Paul's Passing Thoughts

Why Catholicism and Protestantism Both are False Gospels

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 15, 2014

“This is not mere semantics concerning the best way to grow spiritually; what we believe about sanctification shows what we believe about justification. Is it a finished work or not? And if it isn’t, what we believe about sanctification is a purely salvific discussion by default anyway. The Reformers, new and old, do not frame sanctification in salvific terms; this is disingenuous and they know it. Confusion in regard to sanctification enables them to speak of sanctification in a justification way.”

“According to the Reformers, contemplative repentance is the fuel that powers our car on the justification highway to heaven. If we try to get to heaven any other way; i.e., some sort of belief that the highway is not a highway at all but a finished declaration and present reality, we lose justification and sanctification both (Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; p. 62).

In other words, contemplative repentance as a work that we do is the only way to heaven. Reformers like Tullian Tchividjian insist that it is Christ + Nothing = Everything; but again, that is because, like Calvin, he deems contemplative repentance as a non-work in sanctification that doesn’t cause our justification car to run out of gas. In fact, the think tank that launched the present-day Reformation resurgence framed it in those exact terms.”

Protestantism, which came from Catholicism, is also a false gospel. This is because Protestantism only reformed the means of progressive justification and didn’t reject it. Both are guilty of fusing justification and sanctification together. Therefore, both are false gospels because according to both, justification is not a finished work and progresses through sanctification. Therefore, the question of what man must believe so that justification is properly finished is the difference between heaven and hell. Salvation becomes a matter of the right justification process as opposed to simply believing on a finished work by God.

If sanctification (the Christian life) is the progressive expression of justification, man is involved in the justification process, and when this is the case, it is salvation by works because doing is involved even if the doing is believing only. Sanctification becomes a discussion about what is works in sanctification and what isn’t a work in sanctification, but doing something, whether believing or breathing, is a work; it’s all work. Hence, all of the confusion, and if you will, denominations. The propagation of sanctification by faith alone is always indicative of a justification that is not finished.

In truth, nothing we do in sanctification is a work for justification because that work is already finished. And this is the crux in regard to what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

Gal 3:1 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

“Being perfected” can be a little misleading if one does not examine this text carefully. The word for “perfected” is epiteleō which means “to complete, bring to an end.” This is why Young’s Literal Translation has it this way:

O thoughtless Galatians, who did bewitch you, not to obey the truth — before whose eyes Jesus Christ was described before among you crucified? 2 this only do I wish to learn from you — by works of law the Spirit did ye receive, or by the hearing of faith? 3 so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end? [ESV Olive Tree footnote: “Or now ending with”].

The issue at hand was the fact that the Galatians were being influenced by the “circumcision party” (Gal 2:12). They taught salvation by circumcision. Paul called it justification by the law, but understand what he meant by that. The circumcision party emphasized justification by circumcision, but relaxed the rest of the law. Christ referred to this same sort of theology in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:19). Paul’s point is that if you want to be justified by the law, all of the law must be kept perfectly in order to do so (Gal 4:2-4).

Freedom to obey the law aggressively (as love) in sanctification points to our view of justification. Aggressive obedience in sanctification points to the belief that justification is a finished work and unrelated to our work for God and others. It embraces the whole law and pursues righteousness for the sake of loving God and others truthfully. Though we fall short and that is disappointing, it cannot affect a work that is already finished: justification. Those misleading the Galatians taught that circumcision finished justification, and perhaps, as well, that any focus on the finer points of the law would circumvent the circumcision. In essence, those leading the Galatians astray were antinomians:

Gal 2:15 – We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. [parabatēs “lawbreaker”].

When justification and sanctification are fused together and sanctification is the progression of justification, invariably, some tradition or combination of traditions replaces a literal adherence to law. In other words, the law needs to be dumbed down because it is part of the justification process. So, mark it well: our attitude towards the law in sanctification reveals what we believe about justification:

Gal 5:7 – You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.

They were “running” well. “Well” (kalōs) carries the idea of good morals. Paul was certainly NOT commending them for “running well” for justification. They replaced the law keeping of love in sanctification with the supposed fulfilment of justification by the traditions of men and their interpretation of the law. In this case, the primary tradition was circumcision. This is how the Amplified Bible states it:

Gal 3:2 – Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?]

The paraphrase, “observing a law of rituals” is a good one. The Galatian error involved the necessary dumbing down of the law because the Christian life is seen as an extension of justification. To the contrary, there is NO law in justification because no man can withstand its judgment for righteousness (Rom 2:12, 3:19-21, 28, 4:15, 5:13, 6:14,15, 7:1, 6, 8 “Apart from the law, sin lies dead”). However, a relaxed view of the law of love in sanctification points to a law in justification that must be fulfilled by some sort of tradition:

Gal 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Notice that faith works (Jms 2:22) “through love,” and love fulfills the law (Rom13:8). This is a “running” by “obeying the truth.” This is why justification and sanctification must be completely separate. Justification is a finished work, and sanctification is a progressive work of love through obedience to the word of God.

Gospels that fuse justification and sanctification together always posit the idea that a striving to keep God’s law truthfully, as a way to earn salvation, is the pandemic of the day. That is not true at all. An effort to “run well” is always associated with the idea that the running has nothing to do with justification at all. Justification is God’s love to us and is finished; our love towards God and others is sanctification.

1Jn 4:19 – We love because he first loved us.

“We love” is sanctification. “He first loved us” is justification.

In both Romanism and Protestantism, justification is progressive, and sanctification is the progression of justification. This calls for a special formula that keeps us from circumventing the process. It also requires that we do something to maintain the process. “But Paul, doesn’t justification have a finished aspect and also a progressive aspect?” No, but even if that point is conceded, if justification isn’t properly finished, the beginning of it is for naught. In fact, this is exactly what John Calvin taught in regard to the perseverance of the saints. He stated that all who were chosen would not necessarily persevere to the end. Hence, their initial justification was for naught (CI 3.24.6-8).

The Protestant special formula is best exemplified in the writings of John Calvin. First, he made a perfect keeping of law the standard for justification. Justification was defined by a law standard. In the Calvin Institutes (CI), Calvin claimed that Christ obtained justification “by the whole course of his obedience” (CI 2.16.5). In the same section, Calvin interprets Christ’s one act of obedience (Rom 5:19) to the cross as pertaining to his whole life (that only refers to His obedience to the cross Pil 2:8). He also notes that Christ was “born under the law” (Gal 4:4,5) and offers that “proof” as well. But all that is saying is that Christ was born into the world like all other men: under the law. Christ is the only man born into the world that could withstand a judgment by the law—that doesn’t mean he had to keep it in order to fulfill all righteousness. For that matter, all righteousness was fulfilled when He was baptized by John the Baptist (Matt 3:15).

Calvin then goes on to explain that any law-keeping by the Christian is futile because we cannot keep it perfectly (CI 3.14. 10), and no Christian has ever done a work pleasing to God (CI 3.14.11). According to Calvin, the obedience of Christ must be continually applied to our lives until we get to heaven (Ibid). Furthermore, we must continually return to the same gospel that saved us for the forgiveness of new sins committed in the Christian life (Ibid, and CI 4.1.21,22).

So, the Protestant formula is returning to the same gospel that saved us in order to maintain our justification. Supposedly, it’s not of works because the initial repentance that saved us was by faith alone, so a perpetual returning to the same gospel maintains our justification while qualifying as faith alone. This, according to Calvin, does not circumvent the “Progressive” “Sense” of justification (see title: CI 3.14).

In this Protestant construct, Martin Luther’s alien righteousness was very important. This teaches that ALL righteousness remains outside of the believer. The believer has no righteousness of his own. This is important if you are on the justification bus going to glorification. Your inner righteousness would be part of the process that keeps the progression moving forward, perseverance if you will. This version of the Protestant formula to reach heaven by the same faith alone without works that saved/justified us can be seen in the Protestant concept of Sabbath Salvation. In the same way that the Israelites were not allowed to work on the Sabbath upon pain of death, anyone who works in their Christian life will suffer eternal death. Said Calvin:

Ezekiel is still more full, but the sum of what he says amounts to this: that the Sabbath is a sign by which Israel might know God is their sanctifier. If our sanctification consists in the mortification of our own will, the analogy between the external sign and the thing signified is most appropriate. We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him (CI 2.8.29).

Calvin was adamant that none of God’s righteousness could be transferred to the believer (CI 3.14.11) in the “two-fold grace”(i.e., two-fold justification: Calvin deliberately used perceived synonyms to nuance what he believed) of justification and sanctification. All righteousness must remain outside of the believer. If the believer has no righteousness that is his/hers, they can continually affirm their belief in justification by faith alone and continue to receive forgiveness based on faith alone. In this way, Christ’s death and obedient life is perpetually applied to the believer in sanctification until they get to heaven (Ibid).

Therefore, it stands to reason that the only duty of the believer is to see their own sinfulness in sanctification; by doing this, they affirm they have no righteousness that is their own, and can do no work pleasing to God. According to the Protestant formula, this is the only work that is not a work. It is the “mortification of the will.” So, all work in sanctification must be the same repentance that originally saved us—this keeps us in the saving graces of God.

Contemporary Calvinists like John Piper refer to this as the Gospel continuing to save us IF we continue to “live by the gospel.” In a sermon titled, How Does the Gospel Save Believers? Part 2 Piper made the following statement:

We are asking the question, How does the gospel save believers?, not: How does the gospel get people to be believers? (August 16, 1998 by John Piper | Scripture: Romans 1:16-17 | Series: Romans: The Greatest Letter Ever Written).

So, let’s be clear, what we believe the gospel is, keeps us saved. The Protestant gospel is a sanctification defined by repentance only that keeps us saved. If we believe we have a righteousness of our own, all bets are off. Because sanctification is part of the “two-fold” grace (singular) of justification, man’s righteousness cannot participate. This is opposed to another view of the gospel that we are born again of God literally (1Jn 3:9, 5:18) and therefore righteous, and in fact full of goodness (Rom 15:14).

The fact that Christians still sin as mortals does not negate the fact that they are inherently righteous as proven by a change of direction. Certainly, perfection is the goal in sanctification, but not the standard for justification. The Bible explains it as an exchange of slavery. Those “under the law” and not “under grace” are free to do good, but enslaved to unrighteousness (Rom 6:20-22). Those under grace are enslaved to righteousness, but also free to sin (Rom 7:25). The chart below may help illustrate how this results in a change of life direction.


There is no law in justification, and it is a finished work apart from sanctification which fulfils the law by love. The law is now the standard for love in sanctification. As mentioned before, gospels that fuse justification and sanctification together in order to make justification an unfinished work often teach that obedience to the word of God circumvents the formula of salvation. In the case of Protestantism, a belief that we can please God by obeying His word assumes a righteousness that circumvents their gospel.

Hence, anything except repentance or mortification of the flesh assumes righteousness on our part. Regeneration (the new birth) must be manifested by the works of Christ alone in sanctification. There is no room here to expound on the point, but “obedience” in this construct is only an experience specifically called “vivification.” The “heart” of the believer is only changed in regard to its increased ability to experience Christ’s obedience. We experience the “active” obedience of Christ imputed to our sanctification (His “passive” obedience was His death on the cross), but we are not the ones doing it. This protestant idea can be seen in a statement by Calvinist Paul David Tripp:

When we think, desire, speak, or act in a right way, it isn’t time to pat ourselves on the back or cross it off our To Do List. Each time we do what is right, we are experiencing [underline added] what Christ has supplied for us (Paul David Tripp: How People Change; Punch Press 2006, p. 215).

John Calvin, as you will notice if you read his writings carefully, often replaced the idea of direct obedience to God with experiencing God’s works. This is very similar to the Gnostic idea of experiencing objective, or pure good subjectively. There are many variations of this throughout Protestantism, but at the very least, and in all cases, it will instigate a relaxed attitude towards the law.

And how does this relaxing of the law that Christ warned of take place? Simply stated, it takes the two-fold act of love which is sanctification, put off and put on (Eph 4:20-24), and makes them both the responsibility of Christ while we are mere experiencers of the manifestation. This is done by primarily making sanctification ALL about repentance only, but even then, it is for the purpose of more “seeing” via the “heart.” Hence, spiritual growth is defined by an increased capacity to experience Christ as opposed to being able to actually follow Him.

Therefore, the word of God is for gospel contemplationism, or better stated, repentive contemplationism, and is not actually applied to life by the kingdom citizen; that would be working for our justification. So, life application is defined as a work, and not working is defined as not a work; i.e., contemplationism is not a work. Essentially, this is the very construct Christ attacked in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Reformers, old and new, have always tried to do a metaphysical end around on this with “distinction without separation.” Unfortunately, Bible students who formidably challenged the Reformers and elicited this rebuttal in regard to the juxtaposing of justification and sanctification have been expunged from church history. The only detractors who get press were chosen by the Reformers because they had other problems theologically.

As a way to simplify this as much as possible, let’s focus on the fact that the likes of Calvin defined sanctification by repentance only. And remember, that repentance is only contemplationism as well. I will be using an article written by Cornelis P. Venema in the Mid-America Journal of Theology to make my points (Calvin’s Understanding of the “Two-Fold Grace of God” and Contemporary Ecumenical Discussion of the Gospel MJT 2007). I will underline what I want to emphasize.

The first part of Calvin’s basic formula for relating these two aspects of God’s grace [justification and sanctification] in Christ reflects his judgment that justification and sanctification concern two different questions, and denote two distinct facets of God’s relation to us. Whereas justification concerns the basis or reason for our salvation, sanctification concerns the way in which our life is converted to God (p. 79).

Note that justification is the beginning point of a “way” to “conversion” (salvation). Sanctification is the justification highway that leads to final salvation. Justification is not a finished work, it’s a starting point. The “distinction” is the beginning, or name of the highway project, and sanctification is the building project. But the Bible states that justification cannot be a building project because it is a finished work. This is not mere semantics concerning  the best way to grow spiritually; what we believe about sanctification shows what we believe about justification. Is it a finished work or not? And if it isn’t, what we believe about sanctification is a purely salvific discussion by default anyway. The Reformers, new and old, do not frame sanctification in salvific terms; this is disingenuous and they know it. Confusion in regard to sanctification enables them to speak of sanctification in a justification way.

In addition, Calvin not only made repentive contemplationism the sum and substance of sanctification, but…

Throughout all of his writings—in his Institutes, commentaries, and sermons—Calvin consistently refers to this “double grace” or twofold benefit of our reception of the grace of God in Christ as comprising the “sum of the gospel.” These two benefits, justification and sanctification (or repentance) are the “two parts” of our redemption, both of which are bestowed upon us by Christ through faith. Together they form the two ways in which the “justice of God” is communicated to us, and in which we are cleansed by the holiness of Christ and made partakers of it. They constitute that “twofold cleansing” (double lavement), or “twofold purification” (duplex purgandi), which are granted to us by the Spirit of Christ. The “twofold grace of God” answers to the two ways in which Christ lives in us, and forms the invariable content of all Christian preaching about redemption in Christ and its application to human existence (p. 70).

Calvin usually terms the second benefit of our reception of God’s grace in Christ, “regeneration” (regeneratio) or “repentance” (poenitentia). Though inseparably joined with justification and faith, this benefit must not be confused with it. “As faith is not without hope, yet faith and hope are different things, so repentance and faith, although they are held together by a permanent bond, require to be joined rather than confused” (p. 76).

The author’s heavily footnoted assertions are correct (see source), Calvin, as with all of the Reformers, made repentance (actually, repentive contemplationism/contemplative repentance) synonymous with faith, grace, redemption, justification, sanctification, hope, purification, viz, a perpetual “’justice of God’…communicated to us.”

According to the Reformers, contemplative repentance is the fuel that powers our car on the justification highway to heaven. If we try to get to heaven any other way; i.e., some sort of belief that the highway is not a highway at all but a finished declaration and present reality, we lose justification and sanctification both (Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; p. 62).

In other words, contemplative repentance as a work that we do is the only way to heaven. It’s salvation by Christ plus contemplative repentance. Reformers like Tullian Tchividjian insist that it is Christ + Nothing = Everything, but again, that is because like Calvin, he deems contemplative repentance as a non-work in sanctification that doesn’t cause our justification car to run out of gas. In fact, the think tank that launched the present-day Reformation resurgence framed it in those exact terms.

We repeat, Justification is not a thing that we pass and get behind us. As Barth rightly said, it is not like a filling station that we pass but once. As we hold to its eschatological implications, justification by faith can never become static but must remain the dynamic center of Christian existence, the continuous present. We are always sinners in our eyes, but we are always standing on God’s justification and, perhaps more importantly, moving toward it. To be justified is a present-continuous miracle to the man who present-continuously believes, knowing that he who believes possesses all things, and he who does not believe possesses nothing. Such a life is only possible where the gospel of justification is continually heard and where God’s verdict of acquittal is like those mercies which Jeremiah declared were new every morning—”great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23) [Present Truth Magazine: Righteousness by Faith (Part 4) Chapter 8 — The Eschatological Meaning of Justification; Volume Thirty-Five — Article 3].

In regard to another topic in which there is no room here, said think tank criticized contemporary Reformed thinkers for moving away from the original Reformation gospel which was salvation by justification plus contemplative repentance in sanctification. The specific criticism was against a gospel that perceived justification as being a finished work. Throughout the years, due to a misunderstanding of Reformed epistemology, those who fancied themselves as being of the Reformed camp gravitated to a separation of justification and sanctification, and justification being a finished work, and sanctification a progressive work by the believer and the Holy Spirit.

It has often been said, especially in the Reformed stream of thought, that justification is a once-and-for-all, nonrepeatable act… What inevitably happens in this way of viewing things is that justification becomes static. It becomes relegated (as far as the believing community is concerned) to a thing of the past. There is a tendency for it to become a warm memory (Ibid).

This has led to many contemporary quarrels between “Old” Calvinists and “New” Calvinists due to the fact that New Calvinism is a return to the authentic article. Most notably, the “Sonship” debate within Presbyterian circles and the New Covenant Theology debate within Reformed Baptist circles. This misunderstanding also led to debate in the contemporary biblical counseling movement where some Calvinists heavily emphasized obedience to the word of God, while Calvinists being influenced by the Resurgence called such emphasis in sanctification, “Phariseeism.”

Does the new birth make Christians righteous? Is the Holy Spirit’s power displayed in sanctification through our cooperative obedience and following? Is justification finished or not? Does sanctification have any connection to justification? And if it does, what? These questions, and the answers should be a line in the sand between the two gospels in our day.

In the summation of this point, what Calvin wrote specifically at times is very telling. Emphasis by underline added:

“…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).

Calvin plainly states that “reconciliation” must be continually applied to cover new sins. Therefore, justification must be progressive; reconciliation IS justification—there is no justification without it. Instead of making peace with God once and entering into His family, reconciliation must be perpetual. At any given time that you think justification is a onetime event, you separate yourself from the “vital union” with Christ.

However, the Reformed end around on that is the idea that justification is a onetime event because it is both a declaration and a process. In one regard, it happened once, but in another regard, it keeps happening: “it’s a basis.” So, progressive justification is deceptively called “progressive sanctification.” Or, “Justification is the ground (basis) of our sanctification.” Right, because as stated also, “Sanctification is the fruit of justification.” This is deliberate deception. Certain words are used to mask the real Protestant gospel: salvation must be earned and maintained by a continual return to the same gospel that originally saved you.

The following chart published by those of Reformed thought illustrates how contemplative repentance works:

Cross Chart

Notice the emphasis on merely seeing (i.e., contemplationism).  Furthermore, it’s antithetical to the biblical putting off and putting on prescribed by the Scriptures.

Catholicism is little different, it also fuses justification and sanctification together; justification is not a finished work. The following are excerpts from Catechism of the Catholic Church | Part 3, Life in Christ | Section 1, Man’s Vocation Life in the Spirit | Chapter 3, God’s Salvation: Law and Grace | Article 2, Grace and Justification: section…

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.

Notice that there is an ongoing communication of righteousness to the believer which is Protestantesque. This is a perpetual imputation of justification. In theology, “righteousness” and “justification” are used interchangeably.

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.

This is nothing more or less than the Protestant doctrine of mortification and vivification (see CI 3.3.2,9). Through confession, (mortification/repentance), we partake again in Christ’s passion resulting in a perpetual new birth experience symbolized/imputed initially by water baptism.

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.” 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.

There is little ambiguity here; in Catholicism, like Protestantism, you are sanctified by justification…

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

So, why the major beef between Catholicism and Protestantism? It boils down to “infused righteousness.” Romanism holds to the idea that the believer is enabled to participate in his/her final justification via confession and ritual. In the minds of Protestant theologians, that makes man a participant in justification. However, if all righteousness is outside of the believer and remains so, he/she is not a participant in the justification process. The same means, through contemplative repentance to communicate justification as an ongoing process is ok, but not the idea that the righteousness of God indwells the believer. It must be Luther’s alien righteousness.  This is the way Calvinist John Piper presents the argument:

This meant the reversal of the relationship of sanctification to justification. Infused grace, beginning with baptismal regeneration, internalized the Gospel and made sanctification the basis of justification. This is an upside down Gospel (Desiring God blog: June 25, 2009; Goldsworthy on Why the Reformation Was Necessary).

When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel (Ibid).

In it [Goldsworthy’s lecture at Southern] it gave one of the clearest statements of why the Reformation was needed and what the problem was in the way the Roman Catholic church had conceived of the gospel….I would add that this ‘upside down’ gospel has not gone away—neither from Catholicism nor from Protestants (Ibid).

Romanism believes in an infused grace that enables the believer to partake in the justification process which is condoned because the beginning of justification is purely of God. The beginning of justification is pure grace, but sanctification is a “help”:

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.

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.

This drove the Reformers berserk. In their construct, man, saved or otherwise, can have NO merit. It is fair to say that the main contention between the Reformers and Rome was metaphysical in nature. The crux of the contention was/is: How can man be found righteous at the end of his/her salvation journey?  

This paper contends that there is NO salvation journey in regard to justification; it is a finished work. Only our lives as God’s children progress; the fact that we are part of God’s family is a complete, and settled issue. A person is born into a family once, and their growth does not increase their status as a family member; that was settled the day they were born.

Any gospel that posits justification as part of the sanctification process must necessarily involve man in the justification process, and the exclusion of works salvation is impossible. Everything becomes a work or doing something to MAINTAIN our justification. Even doing something passive that is not considered a work like thinking has a purpose, and that purpose can never be to complete a work that Christ has completed.

This is why Protestantism and Catholicism are both false gospels. It is a return to the Galatian error. Protestantism relaxes the law in sanctification to finish the finished work of justification by saying Christ obeys the law for us in sanctification if we live by faith alone in sanctification. Catholicism does its part in relaxing the law of love by replacing it with rituals in sanctification. Different means with the same purpose: to cooperate in the finishing of a finished work. That’s a false gospel.

47 Responses

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  1. gracewriterrandy said, on February 19, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    I would explain it to you if I didn’t think you are too obtuse to understand it. People usually express what they believe. If you can’t find a quote from a Calvinist who states that “Christ obeys for us in sanctification,” it is because no informed Calvinist believes such a ridiculous idea. The more I read and hear of your lunatic ravings, the more I think the elders at Clear Creek were right.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 19, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      Gee Randy, please don’t tell me that you think they were right–that would be devastating since your opinions carry so much weight. But I kind of miss the days when Chad Bresson was telling you what to ask me.


  2. gracewriterrandy said, on February 19, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    No Paul, I just refuse to allow liars to go unchecked.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 19, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      So tell me sweety, of the 200 times you have come here, how many lies have you caught me in? What are you battin’?


      • gracewriterrandy said, on February 19, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        Most everything you write is false. Don’t you understand that people defend what they believe? If a person tells you they don’t believe what you claim, it is probably because you have misrepresented what they believe.

        I have to confess that I honestly can’t tell whether you are so theologically inept that you can’t accurately grasp the real meaning of clear statements, or if you are wickedly malicious. One way or another, you are guilty of falsehood.


      • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 19, 2014 at 11:07 PM


  3. gracewriterrandy said, on February 19, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    I don’t even know Chad Bresson. You might be just a bit paranoid. Perhaps it is your incredible bitterness that has caused you to be so warped.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 19, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      Now see, now I have to go searching through a terabyte of files looking for the documented correspondence between you and Bresson on his blog. The correlation with the discussion we were having on my blog at the time is also interesting.


      • gracewriterrandy said, on February 20, 2014 at 12:01 AM

        I did not deny that I corresponded with Chad B. I emailed him on a couple of occasions to inquire about how they could have ever dealt with such an unbalanced person as you are.

        Still, I wouldn’t know him if I met him in the noon day sun. I certainly don’t need him or anyone else to tell me what to ask you.


      • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 20, 2014 at 12:04 AM



  4. gracewriterrandy said, on February 19, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Here is an example of one of your many lies–“salvation must be earned and maintained by a continual return to the same gospel that originally saved you.” No Calvinist believes salvation must be earned by any sinner. Surely you must know that is an outright lie.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 20, 2014 at 12:02 AM

      Yawn, listen psychomuffin, Piper has stated that “the gospel saves believers.” He then goes on to clarify exactly what he meant by that: we are “saved” in the present continuous sense by returning to the same gospel that saved us. Horton stated that if we move on from the same gospel that saved to anything else at all, we lose BOTH sanctification and justification. Randy, the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification is available for anyone to investigate on their own.

      For crying out loud Randy–take your meds.


      • gracewriterrandy said, on February 20, 2014 at 12:15 AM

        If you weren’t so dense, you could understand what they meant by those statements. Horton clearly means that if you begin to trust your works of obedience in sanctification instead of trusting Christ alone, you never truly had faith to begin with. In such a case, you have neither justification nor sanctification. A true believer never stops believing.


      • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 20, 2014 at 12:26 AM

        Love, he didn’t say anything at all about “believing.” So I am dense because I don’t understand that he was writing about something that he didn’t write about? Wow, you’re so high above me. He was talking about “moving on” to something else, you know, like the Hebrew writer told us to do.


      • gracewriterrandy said, on February 20, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        You only say that because you don’t understand Hebrews six. Even if that were the meaning, it says NOTHING about the active obedience of Christ being imputed to us in Sanctification so that he obeys for us in sanctification. That is simply not what we believe.


      • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 20, 2014 at 6:54 PM



  5. gracewriterrandy said, on February 20, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    One of your many problems is your tendency to speak/write in prodigious generalities. For example, on your little video you stated something like “if you belong to a brick and mortar church, you need to come out of it.” Your implication is that there is not a single established church in the world that remains faithful to God and to the gospel, and unless you huddle with a little group in what looks like a glorified double wide trailer, you must not love God and truth. Stop painting everyone with the same broad brush. If there is a Calvinist you disagree with, quote his statement and interact with it. Allow free discussion of your objections without cutting people off when you can’t answer their questions. Perhaps then you might have a little credibility. As it is, all you have in your corner is your merry band of malcontents.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on February 20, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      Fact is Randy, this doctrine is becoming part and parcel with the institutional church. It can be likened to why folks home school their children. We can generalize the public schools, and we can now do the same with the institutional church. I have folks emailing me that vetted the new churches they joined, only to find out that the elders deliberately deceived them about their New Calvinism.


  6. Theodore A. Jones said, on March 31, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    The in common error of RCCism & Protestantism is the false assumption of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion having ‘been in place of’.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 31, 2014 at 9:09 AM


      Could you expound on that a little more?


  7. Jonathan Grandt said, on June 26, 2019 at 6:23 AM

    A bad tree cannot produce good fruit.
    Protestantism is fruit from a corrupt tree.
    New wine will burst an old wine skin and ruin the wine.

    Every system that takes New Covenant realities and forces them into an old system ruins the wine. This is very sad. These things spring up and then fade away and the truth of the gospel is spoiled by tradition.

    For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Galatians 5:13-18

    You are free, but in your freedom love one another instead of all this attacking and biting lest you destroy one another. The whole law is fulfilled in one command, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Now of course if you walk by the Spirit you won’t have to be keeping the law. A free man is not bound to keeping the Law, but men taken captive by a twisted labyrinth of corrupted ideologies will definitely devour one another. If we walk according to the Spirit we will do what pleases the Father. “Oh,” says you, “keeping the law pleases the Father!” And yet it does not and never did. The law came where transgression did. The law being a tutor showed us where we were sinning against the Father and our neighbor. If you still need this tutor that brings death then it is because you are not walking by the Spirit.

    Christ did indeed keep the law. He did indeed “fulfill it”. He brought it to its completion. He is the righteous man in psalm 1. Many translations change Man to People and say that we believers are the righteous tree planted by living water. But this is only factual if we are in Christ. These psalms are taking about Christ. He is the tree. It is also Christ who is the One who may ascend the holy hill of the LORD. Having clean hands and a pure heart and having not lifted His soul to an idol. He has accomplished all. He has completed all. He has championed the law. Christ is victorious over sin and over death. In Him we are truly free. The reason Catholicism and Protestantism diverge from
    The Bible I’m so many ways is because bad fruit cannot come from the Good Tree and good fruit cannot come from the Bad Tree.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on June 26, 2019 at 7:58 AM

      You may not like the fruit of Protestantism, but you have the same gospel. Whether from a Covenant Theology position, or New Covenant theology position, perfect law-keeping is the standard for justification and then that is imputed to the “believer” progressively. In CT it is the “ordinary means of grace” which results in Jesus’ perfect law-keeping being progressively imputed to the believer. In NCT, it is “living in the Spirit of the gospel.” “Christ did indeed keep the law.” No he didn’t. Christ didn’t keep one jot or tittle of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). He did come to fulfill the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2) THROUGH US (Romans 8:4). When Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, he was talking about the law of the Spirit of life, not the law of sin and death; he, in fact, did come to end that law on the cross (Colossians 2:14). Your gospel, like the church, redefines the new birth as a mere illumination (perception) and not a change of being that actually makes us righteous as a state of being. Yes, in fact, we ARE the trees at the side of the stream. Yes, in fact, we ARE HOLY. The new birth changes our relationship to the law. To us who are born again, we are under grace and the law of the Spirit of life. We are the ones who add knowledge and other things to our faith. We are no longer under the law of sin and death needing a perpetual return to the cross to have our sins covered. True salvation is NOT an “atonement.” Our sins are not covered by the death of Jesus and a perpetual return to his death, our sins are ENDED by his death. Nor do we need the substitution of good works, we ourselves perform them to please God.


  8. helenadiane said, on July 8, 2020 at 11:17 AM

    I was a convent-bred pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic brought up by an Irish Catholic mother and a Swiss Protestant father. In order to marry my mother in the Catholic church, he had to swear that he would never attempt to use the bible to influence any future offspring, which promise he kept. As kids, when we asked him why he didn’t go to church with us on Sunday, he said that it was too far to go to his Zwingli church. Zwingli, for us, was synonymous with ‘Daddy’s going to hell’. Then in 1978, the Lord changed all that and I came out of the Catholic church. Suddenly, those bad Protestants were the good guys who only had truth on their side and remained such for many years until I did my homework…


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