Tag Archives: Catholic Church

Language Clarity or Confusion? The Protestant Reformation

10 Oct
October 2017 has arrived and along with it another century’s culminating celebration of the birth of the Protestant Reformation.  Books, articles, conferences, and tours have focused on educating and further reforming our generation of believers who are 500 years closer to Jesus’ return.
My favorite British podcast, ‘Unbelievable’ hosted by Justin Brierley recently featured a polite conversation between a nominal Protestant-turned-believing Catholic and a religiously-raised Catholic who embraced historical and Biblical Protestantism.  Speaking with restraint, both sincerely believe their church’s doctrine and did indeed explain their beliefs with clarity.
My curiosity mounted as I waited to learn what compelled the current Catholic to hold to what appears to me as false teaching.  At first, he ticked off what my reformed denomination holds is true:
  • We are saved by grace alone, through Christ alone
  • Jesus alone saves; our works don’t earn us salvation
  • Salvation is a gift of God, even the faith to believe God is a gift
So far…..so good. But then came the ‘hic’, the point of diversion:
  •     We must ‘cooperate’ with God’s grace.
Voilà!  Here is one place where historic, Biblical Protestantism parts company with Rome and her teachings.  What in the heck does ‘cooperate’ mean and how is that a gift or good news?
I imagine a spectrum, a continuing line of required effort.  On one end the energy to be expended is minimal:  “Don’t hinder,  interfere with or try to block God’s work”
Moving along the COOPERATION line I picture the next bit of advice: “Actively work with God!”
Passing that polite but not yet desperate midpoint, the pleas for greater exertion and more good works grow insistent: “If you don’t join in, God won’t be able to succeed in placing you in His eternal presence!”
Really?  Does the Catholic Church actually think we dependent, derivative, created beings have the power to thwart Almighty God’s purpose?
Cooperating with God’s grace sounds nice, non-threatening and civilized.  But as a concept that Catholic leaders use to teach and encourage their followers, it misleads millions about God.
Words matter.  Especially about eternal issues.  Either God saves us and our forever destination depends solely on Him as the Bible teaches OR we have a key role to play in the outcome. This is how the issue must be framed.  By the way, this hypothetical proposition is called a Disjunctive Proposition.  In the way I believe this argument must be framed, either the first disjunct is true or the 2nd one.  They both cannot be true.
Whatever degree of human effort the Catholic Church teaches is necessary for salvation, this idea that one must ‘cooperate with God’s grace’ continues to mislead generations toward eternal separation from God.  Words can be cruel albeit comforting in their confusion.  And the Bible teaches that God will judge teachers harshly who have twisted His word.
Since words matter and can have eternal consequences, let us as logic lovers be careful in how we use God’s gift of language.

Spotting the Fallacy of Composition

27 Sep

Just because one member of an organization acts a certain way, it does not follow that the whole organization shares that same attribute.

This is called the Fallacy of Composition.

A recent letter to the editor in the Asheville, NC paper gave evidence that the writer does not understand this faulty thinking.  When people resort to using fallacies (inaccurate assumptions), they undermine the persuasiveness of their point.

Understanding fallacies can be a useful tool for policing up OUR own positions, whether verbal or written.

The way the letter preceded was thus:

The author wanted to attack an organization, so he brought up a fact (which I am going to take as true, for the sake of this explanation) that a past director of that group had been arrested and charged with aiding & abetting prostitution.   We actually don’t know the outcome of the charge.  But if it were found out to be true, no one would deny that the guy had done something bad.     

BUT, it does not follow that others associated with that organization engages in illegal exploitation of women.  The attributes of individual members of a set do not translate into a group attribute or even mean that other members share the same attribute.

Here are some other common examples:

  • a few Catholics supporting abortion rights does not mean the Catholic Church is in favor of this policy
  • mom & dad liking okra doesn’t mean the whole Jones family likes okra

  • Westboro Baptist Church engaging in hateful practices at the funerals of fallen servicemen should not be taken to be the way ALL Christian churches are

The next time someone hits you with an argument based on the Fallacy of Composition, respond with that useful 2-letter word: