The Battle for God's Grace
and its Connection to the
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 2 of a four-part Bible study.
Click on the links below to access the
other parts of this study.
The First Recorded Dispute
in the Early Church Occurred
Over God's Grace
Following the crucifixion of Christ, the New Testament Scriptures - as we have them today (in printed form) - did not exist. This was a dangerous time for the new Christian Church because the governing principles of Christ's salvation were often communicated verbally through the early apostles and could easily be twisted and distorted by those who disagreed and wanted to change things to their own liking.
God placed Acts chapter 15 in the New Testament canon to warn the Church about such a situation. We believe Acts 15 exists as a prophetic warning because the same aberrant theology revealed in this chapter, not only continues to exist - but now dominates the modern-day Christian Church. A group of prominent religious teachers insisted that the New Covenant, taught by the Apostle Paul needed to be changed. They wanted Paul’s “Grace through faith only” evangelistic message amended to include obedience to Old Testament Law in its requirements to obtain salvation. The Bible identifies these men as “believing Pharisees” who had now repented and placed their faith in Christ. They were different than the unbelieving Pharisees who persecuted the Lord a few years earlier. (Note: Today, these “Christ believing Pharisees” could be called; Bible believing Christians.) They submitted their request to the leading apostles for consideration, which resulted in what modern theologians call “The First Jerusalem Council”. The lead apostle in charge was James, our Lord’s half-brother. After much discussion and debate, the council's official decision was announced. It condemned the changes these Pharisees wanted to make to Paul’s gospel message. The council wrote the following letter - addressed to the churches to make sure their decision would not be misunderstood or distorted.
The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” -- to whom we gave no such commandment -- it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.
(See Acts 15:23-31)
The Pharisee's Theology
Survives Church History
Unfortunately, these believing Pharisees rejected the council’s decision and proceeded to spread their grace plus works gospel everywhere Paul established a fellowship. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians was designed to expose this toxic theology, which had nearly destroyed the faith of these believers. Yet, despite his efforts - the Pharisee’s theology survived. Why did Paul and the apostolic leadership so rigorously oppose this teaching? It changed God’s definition concerning how salvation is received after the cross - and therefore qualifies as a heresy that can send its followers dangerously astray in their faith without their knowledge.
Important Note: The Pharisees of the first century - whether they believed in Christ or not - were Jewish theologians who were highly trained in the Old Testament Law of Moses given to Israel at Mount Sinai. Another name for the Law of Moses (also called "the Mosaic Law") is Judaism. Insisting that Judaism had to be added to Paul’s Grace-based evangelistic message is why various Bible Scholars today refer to these Pharisees in Acts chapter 15 as “Judaizers” – because they sought to illegally “Judaize” (or add the Law of Moses) to the gospel of Christ. In an attempt to simplify a complex and often confusing subject, we choose to use the phrase “doctrine of the believing Pharisees” to describe the teaching of the Judaizers, which allows readers to more easily connect its modern-day counterparts to the important truth revealed in Acts chapter 15.
During the next 1900 years, the theology of the believing Pharisees, originally condemned by both Saint Paul and the apostolic council in Acts chapter 15, was repeatedly recycled and reworded by various church leaders and theologians, who agreed with its teachings. The first generation leadership of the Christian Church had died, which left future leaders in charge of guarding and defending the original tenants of the Christian faith. All serious students of church history are painfully aware that this future generation of theologians (but thankfully not all) introduced their own modifications, which were said to be necessary “clarifications and improvements”. Unfortunately, these changes were made regardless of the warnings of the original apostles and elders. Yet, faithful and committed men continued to exist - who worked to preserve the original teachings (now part of the New Testament canon) handed down from the first century apostolic leadership. William Tyndale (1494-1536) was one of these individuals and is credited with translating the first English Bible. Church history reveals that he was martyred by the Roman Catholic leadership for this effort. It is widely believed that Tyndale is responsible for over 70% of the translation that led to the original King James Bible in existence today. Yet, those who yielded to the overwhelming pressure to make modifications and changes to Scripture caused nearly irreversible damage to the Gospel.
Some Important Comments
Before We Continue
In the studies and commentaries presented by this ministry, an effort is made to avoid criticizing various religious groups whenever possible. Instead, we focus on wrong teaching and common misconceptions that lead God’s people astray in their faith. However, in this commentary we examine a very toxic form of theology that was institutionalized by the early Roman Catholic Church nearly 1700 years ago (around the fourth century) and reaffirmed during the Council of Trent in 1563. The world was very different during this time. We didn’t have Christian churches of different denominations on every street corner the way we do now - and America didn’t exist.
In the fourth century, the Catholic Church began to dominate the religious world. Christianity was still in its early stages and vulnerable to various doctrines and influences that seemed to originate with God, but was actually created and designed by professionally trained men. If you were a church leader presenting religious doctrine that appealed to the people - along with sufficient political power and educational credentials - you could design a theology and forcibly inject it directly into the Church’s foundational beliefs. If your teaching was respected and repeated enough times, it would slowly and incrementally become tradition accepted on an equal level with the Holy Scriptures. Over time this man-made tradition using out-of-context Scripture as its defense would become “bedrock Christian doctrine”, or what some today might call “Historic Christianity”. But, just because something is old and historic – is never a guarantee that it comes from God. Jesus warned about this common, yet dangerous practice that deceptively transforms the teachings of man into doctrines of God (Mark 7:6-7).
In this commentary we seek to expose such a theology. It is now entrenched, not only in the foundation of the Catholic Church, but also in most Protestant churches as well (a topic covered later in this study). We discovered that this theology currently dominates more than 80% of Christendom (a very conservative estimate) - and it is often described using offensive terminology. Yet, we try to only use the same or similar wording spoken by the leading apostles of the first century church. One such leader was the Apostle Paul who wrote nearly half of the New Testament Scriptures. Since the doctrine in question is so widely accepted, our comments will offend many (but thankfully not all) Catholic readers.
Despite our strong disagreements with its core teachings, we also recognize that the Catholic Church consists of many authentic brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to work for change within the system. We understand that it has experienced some positive transformations since the fourth century, which includes the more recent changes initiated by the “Catholic Charismatic Renewal” (also called "the Charismatic movement") between 1958 and 1985. This movement (some call it a revival) supernaturally spilled over into the Protestant side of the church. I was personally involved in this movement, which radically changed my life - and I am not Catholic. Some Charismatic Catholic evangelists preached a "Biblically correct" Jesus-centered message. Others came to a saving knowledge of Christ through this same movement and had their lives and ministry transformed. Surprisingly, these revolutionary positive changes reached all the way into the Vatican at Rome. But unfortunately - the influence was not powerful enough to reverse some of the more dangerous and traditional doctrines which has existed within Catholicism since the time of Augustine. Regardless of all the good things that have recently occurred, some will still be offended by the content of this Bible study.
The Misapplication and Abuse
of Spiritual Authority
The Roman Catholic Church began its rise to prominence around the 4th century, claiming to be the only true representative of God's authority which is ultimately expressed through the Pope - who is said to be "the Vicar of Christ". (Note: the "Vicar of Christ" is someone who claims to possess the same authority over the Church as Christ Himself). As a result, the Roman Church often refers to itself as “the mother Church”, insisting that it is the only true Christian Church - and the only source of salvation.
But thankfully, honest men who sought to
preserve and protect the original truths
that govern Christ's salvation refused
to accept this decree.
Because of its dominant size and influence, it was under Roman Catholicism where much of the spiritual corruption took place. Any religious organization or church leader who usurps the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ is propagating this terribly misleading theology. The resurrected Lord Jesus Christ remains the official (and only) head of the Christian Church (Ephesians 5:23). To allow Christ's authority to be usurped and transferred to any earthly church leader - whether they are Catholic or Protestant represents some of the worst kind of religious error.
The following is a recent example. While speaking at a public gathering in 2014, Pope Francis stated;
"It is dangerous for anyone to believe
that he or she can have a personal,
direct and immediate relationship with
He later added;
"No personal relationship with Jesus is
possible outside of the Pope's and
Catholic Church's mediation."
But, Scripture disagrees with
this statement and declares ...
"For there is one mediator
between God and men, the
man Christ Jesus, who gave
himself a ransom for all..."
(1 Timothy 2:5-6)
"For the husband is head of
the wife, AS ALSO CHRIST IS
THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH; and
He is the Savior of the body.
Unfortunately, usurping Christ's authority is no longer something only found in Catholicism. Protestantism has its own version. Contrary to popular discipleship and shepherding teachings - Jesus does not "delegate" or transfer His Lordship authority to any earthly church leader.
Scripture alone gives us the reason:
After the cross and the day of Pentecost, Jesus rules every true Christian believer directly through the Holy Spirit who now indwells them - which eliminates the need for an earthly mediator.
Any church leader who attempts to operate as an official mediator between the believer and God - is actually opposing Christ's position as "head of the Church". Jesus partially addressed this situation when He told His disciples ...
“You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:41-45)
SOME IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL
One reason God accepts us “just as we are” (or according to Grace) is so that He can change us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-30, 2 Corinthians 3:13-18, Romans 12:1-2). God's acceptance comes first and the changes follow. But, there will always be those who use Grace as an excuse not to change. The Apostle Paul addressed this problem by saying;
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:1-4)
God initially accepts us (gives us eternal life) in the condition He finds us. Contrary to some popular church teaching, this offer is extended even to the worst of sinners – while they are still a sinner. Insisting that we must "clean ourselves of all sin" or "repent from all sin" before God will save us is a popular yet disastrous misconception - simply because it's impossible to accomplish before we are saved. Following the sacrificial death of Christ, Scripture now teaches that we are saved (we receive eternal life), FIRST - and the cleaning up of our lives takes place afterwards.
"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:6-10)
"....being confident of this very thing, that He who begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phillipians 1:6 - Ephasis Added)
Just because Our Heavenly Father initially saves us "just as we are" doesn’t mean that He intends on leaving us in that condition. His perfect will is to change us to be like His Son. But...even if the worst happens and we fail in this character transformation that the Bible calls "sanctification", we are allowed to keep eternal life since God declares it to be His free gift which is not dependent on personal merit or behavior (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7). Sanctification is a life-long process that begins only after we securely possess salvation. It’s a divine work - where the Holy Spirit trains us, from His position on the inside of us, to have Christ-like character and to avoid sin (Phillipians 1:6). Yet, success in sanctification is never a condition or qualification to obtain and keep eternal life. If achieving sanctification (or Christ-like behavior) was a requirement to receive and remain saved (as many claim), having any assurance of salvation would be impossible - since no one can know when these requirements have been fully met.
God’s Grace is an extraordinary spiritual benefit. But, for those who use it as a way to continue in certain Biblically defined sinful lifestyles, some very serious consequences come into play.
An exception to Christ’s submissive servant hood rule for shepherds (church leaders) occurs when they must confront a member of their congregation (or a group working within the congregation) who is practicing a blatant and overt sin specifically designated in Scripture for disciplinary action. The minister's response should always be motivated by the need to protect other members of the fellowship - especially new and inexperienced believers. One example is found in 1 Corinthians 5:1-12, where a church member was having sexual relations with his mother - and Paul rebuked the fellowship for ignoring the problem. On the other hand, a church leader (or leadership board) can habitually misuse their spiritual authority by citing any human sin, no matter how small or insignificant - to empower their "lording-it-over" practices. These kinds of abusive church governments essentially neutralize Christ’s direct command to be a servant and place the fellowship under a type of spiritual dictatorship. Bible scholars often describe it as “authoritarianism” – which does not originate with God. To prevent this kind of abuse, Scripture restricts the use of disciplinary authority to a very narrow range of overt sins (listed in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11) – which does not include just any offense.
When we carefully read the account of the immoral act of the young man in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul contradicts a popular belief - that the disciplinary action taken against this sin also means that the guilty party is no longer saved - because the sin caused them to lose their salvation. We certainly agree that Christians who engage in the specific sins Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 are dishonoring Christ and the salvation He provides. But, according to Scripture correct behavior involving good works and merit is not a qualification to possess or keep God’s gift of eternal life. According to Paul, if your sinful behavior is on this restricted list ... and continues unchecked, you can be barred (with God's full approval) from participating in the fellowship of the Church – despite the fact that you may be authentically saved.
These uncomfortable and controversial issues are discussed because God permits church leaders to deviate from their otherwise gracious and cordial “servant hood” role and exercise authority when certain types of sin manifests in their congregation. Yet, even in this emotionally charged and confrontational environment, spiritual authority should always be practiced in love with the goal of complete restoration.
After the cross, Peter re-emphasized
the Lord's words and commanded all
Christian leaders to ...
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples (or examples) to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (1 Peter 5:2-4)
What does it mean when Scripture
declares Jesus Christ to be the
head of the Church and the one
(and only) mediator between God
Salvation does not come through the Pope or any other earthly church leader.
Salvation does not come through the Roman Catholic Church or any other institutional church organization (this includes churches in Protestant denominations).
Anyone can obtain salvation directly from Jesus Christ - as the Lord and official head of the Church ... and the only mediator between God and man. This means that Jesus does not need the permission, confirmation, or validation of any earthly church leader or religious institution before He saves anyone.
As a result, Scripture declares; “all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” – and the salvation Christ gives is by Grace through faith as the gift of God and not of works. (Romans 6:23, Romans 10:8-13 Ephesians 2:4-9, Romans 8:4-8)
Additional information is available
at the following links:
Are Catholic beliefs and practices biblical?
What is Sola Scriptura?
The Misapplication and Abuse of
Spiritual Authority Represents a
Direct Attack on God’s Grace
Grace only operates the way God intended when Jesus Christ rules directly from within the body of the believer according to His authority as their personal Lord. When this spiritual authority is taken away from Jesus and illegally transferred to a church leader; salvation by Grace must be either redefined - or eliminated (and replaced) with one of the many works and merit-based forms of salvation that serves the interests and goals of that minister and his organization. In this unfortunate yet common situation, Jesus continues to be worshipped and preached, but His authority as Lord and head of the Church is now covertly transferred to a minister, board of elders or denominational hierarchy THAT RULES IN HIS PLACE. As a result, the Lord Jesus Christ is effectively stripped of His authority and becomes little more than a rubberstamp or figurehead. Various church leaders claim that their action is justified because Jesus no longer resides on earth and therefore can’t effectively rule all believers in the world-wide Church. Yet, this popular type of church government denies a core truth of New Testament salvation. It is true that Jesus physically ascended back to heaven after His resurrection. But, Scripture declares that He also continues to be on earth in a unique way that makes Him infinitely more qualified to rule the Church than any Pope or church leader.
Shortly before the cross, Jesus told
His disciples about this important
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, THAT HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOREVER — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you AND WILL BE IN YOU." (Words of Jesus in John 14:16-17)
True Christianity is understood as
Jesus Christ directly ruling the
believer as their Lord through the
Holy Spirit (also called “the Spirit
of Christ) – who now lives on the
inside of them. This is why the
Church is also called;
The Body of Christ
Popular forms of Christian theology (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) that delegates (transfers) Christ’s authority to an earthly spiritual leader (rejecting Christ's ability to rule the believer directly from the inside) - represents a counterfeit form of Christianity and a false “faith in Christ” regardless of the name on the building and the godly intentions of those involved. Scripture refers to this kind of faith as being false (or counterfeit) for the following reason:
The Christian’s confession and acceptance of Jesus as their only Lord is a primary requirement to be saved (Romans 10:9-10). Yet, this authority is now subtly transferred to someone else who claims to operate in Christ's place. These leaders often justify their actions by saying that Jesus cannot practically govern the Church - since He no longer resides on earth. Yet, the real problem is that these same leaders are trying to govern the Church of Jesus Christ according to an obsolete and now illegal Old Testament Law-based model that operated before the cross, where the Holy Spirit had not yet arrived to indwell believers (Hebrews 8:6-13). This is one of the hallmarks of Galatian religion (or Galatianism) discussed later in this study.
This spiritually lethal corruption of a person’s “faith in Christ” (often without their knowledge) is why Peter warned shepherds (church leaders) not to be “lords over God’s inheritance” – and one reason Saint Paul gave the following instructions to the Church;
"EXAMINE YOURSELVES AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE FAITH. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified." (2 Corinthians 13:5)
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost WHICH IS IN YOU, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. NOW IF ANY MAN HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE IS NONE OF HIS. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:9-11)
By the 15th century, the efforts of such men as John Wycliffe - and later by Martin Luther (and many others) began what is known today as the Protestant Reformation. This movement was initially started to protest (hence the word “Protestant”) and later expose the erroneous teaching coming from Rome – which had all but silenced the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, established on God’s Grace. We believe this suppression of what His Son accomplished at the cross is why God - and not man - initiated the Reformation.
Contrary to the objections of various
popular church leaders and the
denominations they represent, the
Reformation continues today - because
the same counterfeit form of Christianity
it was designed to address and expose
continues to exist on both the
Protestant and Catholic sides of the
the world-wide institutional church.
The Holy Scriptures were first available in print, around the 15th century. The printing press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg (a supporter of the Reformation) provided an invaluable tool for studying and understanding Scripture. Until that time the average person had no way of knowing that they were being given false and misleading information about God by the church leaders they trusted.
The Positive and Negative Aspects
Of the Reformation
It was during the Protestant Reformation
that the battle against God's Grace ...
initiated in the first century by the
believing Pharisees in Acts chapter 15,
was successfully transferred from Augustine's
Catholicism to Protestantism through the
efforts of John Calvin and his colleagues.
This theology - commonly known as "Calvinism"
continued to gain popularity during the
"Great Awakening" revivals and eventually
became the dominant "Christian religion"
of the early American colonies.
As in any revival or spiritual movement involving human participation, the Reformation had both a positive and a negative side. Respected men such as the 4th century Roman Catholic theologian, Augustine - and the 16th century Protestant theologian, John Calvin (and his colleagues) were instrumental in keeping the aberrant first century “doctrine of the believing Pharisees” alive in its various modified forms and expressions. But, by this time its unscriptural characteristics had been successfully reworded and explained away - AND WAS NOW BEING PRESENTED AS GOD'S TRUE BIBLICAL THEOLOGY. Popular Christian commentaries correctly identify Martin Luther and John Calvin as the primary leaders of the Reformation. Both men left the Catholic Church to work in the new movement. History records that Luther and Calvin were trained in Catholic theology and were ardent followers of Augustine’s 4th century teachings. Luther was previously a priest and was known to possess a “Doctorate of Divinity” degree.
When studying church history, there is no doubt that both Calvin and Luther admired and respected Augustine as one of the most influential theologians who had ever lived. But, we should also remember that the Roman Catholic Church was established on Augustinian theology – which remains firmly in place today. This was the same Catholic Church Luther and Calvin now claimed to oppose. For over 1000 years, Augustine’s teachings were considered to be “the accepted standard” for Christian faith. However, when we compare the teachings of any theologian (regardless of how respected and popular) with the Holy Scriptures – irregularities and errors will always become evident. God accepts Scripture as His final authority and not a particular theology devised by man or a church organization. Under these conditions, it is possible to admire and respect a theologian, yet disagree with their teachings at the same time. This is why both Calvin and Luther spoke highly of Augustine, but responded to his doctrine in different ways.
WHAT WE ARE OFTEN NOT TOLD is that John Calvin totally embraced Augustine’s Roman Catholic theology, which he modified to fit the new Protestant movement. Today, it is widely known as “Calvinism”. In its countless different forms and flavors – Calvinism has become a dominant theology and a stealth behind-the-scenes influence in a majority of Protestant congregations. But Luther, after discovering many of its unscriptural and anti-grace characteristics (these were the same objections that motivated the Acts chapter 15 apostolic council to condemn the “doctrine of the believing Pharisees”) - disagreed with Augustine’s theology. These disagreements eventually led him to reject Augustine's doctrine and embrace the New Testament teachings of Saint Paul. This is one reason Martin Luther is disliked and even despised by many devout Roman Catholics today.
Contrary to traditional and
historical Christian beliefs,
Calvin and Luther did not
teach the same doctrine.
In his commentary entitled "Calvinism's Surprising Catholic Connection" (availble from his Internet ministry "The Berean Call"), Christian author and Bible teacher Dave Hunt provides the following quotes and observations about John Calvin and Martin Luther.
Hunt writes ...
"THERE IS NO QUESTION that Calvin imposed upon the Bible certain erroneous interpretations from his Roman Catholic background. Many leading Calvinists agree that the writings of Augustine were the actual source of most of what is known as Calvinism today. Calvinists David Steele and Curtis Thomas point out that “The basic doctrines of the Calvinistic position had been vigorously defended by Augustine against Pelagius during the fifth century.”
As one of the most well-known classical Calvinists of the 19th century (according to the Westminister Confesion of Faith), B. B. Warfield confirmed the connection between John Calvin and Augustine by saying ...
“The system of doctrine taught by Calvin is just the Augustinianism common to the whole body of the Reformers - for the Reformation was, as from the spiritual point of view a great revival of religion, so from the theological point of view a great revival of Augustinianism.”
John Calvin made the following statement about himself:
“Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.”
Hunt continues ...
"In his eye-opening book, "The Other Side of Calvinism" Laurence M. Vance thoroughly documents that “John Calvin did not originate the doctrines that bear his name ...” Vance quotes numerous well-known Calvinists to this effect. For example, Kenneth G. Talbot and W. Gary Crampton write, “The system of doctrine which bears the name of John Calvin was in no way originated by him....”
“Strangely, Calvin apparently failed to recognize that Augustine never understood salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Philip F. Congdon writes, “Another curious parallel is evident between Classical Calvinist theology and Roman Catholic theology. THE TWO SHARE AN INCLUSION OF WORKS IN THE GOSPEL MESSAGE, AND AN IMPOSSIBILITY OF ASSURANCE OF SALVATION...Both hold to the primacy of God’s grace; both include the necessity of our works.”
Hunt then reveals how Luther
responds to all of this ...
“Augustine’s heresies, especially his
Romanist view of faith in Christ being
supplemented by good works and
the sacraments, were not lost on
Luther, who wrote;
‘In the beginning, I devoured Augustine,
but when...I knew what justification
by faith really was, then it was out
(Words of Martin Luther)
[End of Quotations]
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All of these official sources reveal how Calvin's Protestant theology is actually a modification and rewording of Augustine's Catholic theology. As a result, both men are guilty of redefining the origianl Gospel message found in the New Testament canon - into what Paul refers to as “a different gospel and another Jesus”. Hunt correctly uses the word "heresy" to describe Augustine's doctrine because it changes the way Christ's salvation is obtained according to Scripture.
Dave Hunt’s entire commentary explains this complex problem in more detail and is available on his website HERE.
If this link becomes inactive, you can
also access this material HERE.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Quoting these individual authors, including Dave Hunt does not necessarily mean that we agree with all of their beliefs and teachings. Yet, church history shows that they are correct in their conclusions about Augustine and John Calvin. The information presented here will almost never be preached from a pulpit on Sunday morning because of the divisive and spiritual implications. There is little doubt that these facts will deeply offend those who embrace the teachings of Augustine, Calvin, Reformed theology and various expressions of Christian fundamentalism. Hopefully, it will help some to see that they need to re-examine the way they interpret and believe the Bible.
Because of certain problems which
occurred later in his life - we
feel the need to also provide a
warning about Martin Luther.
In an effort to avoid any
misunderstandings, these issues
are addressed in the following
Our Position on Martin Luther
This is Part 2 of a four-part Bible study.
Click on the links below to access the
other parts of this study.
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