Archive for May, 2023

Justification: Process or Event?

When it comes to the theology of salvation in Christianity, perhaps one of the biggest divides is between the Catholic concept of increasing in justification and the Protestant concept of justification as a single event. This divide is evident in the way each tradition approaches the question of how one is saved – is it a process or a one-time event? In this article, we will explore the differences between these two theological concepts.

The Catholic Concept of Increasing in Justification
Catholics believe that justification is a process that begins at baptism and continues throughout one’s life.1 This process involves cooperation between God’s grace and the individual’s actions to grow in holiness and righteousness. This cooperation is what Catholics refer to as “works”.2 The idea is that as the individual engages in good works, they grow in grace and their justification increases.3

Catholics also believe that justification can be lost through sin.4 If someone commits a mortal sin (i.e. a grave, deliberate offense against God), they are separated from God’s grace and in need of the sacrament of confession in order to be reconciled with God and increase in justification once again.

The Protestant Concept of Justification as a Single Event
Protestants, on the other hand, hold to the concept of justification as a single event that happens at the moment of faith in Christ.5 They believe that justification refers to the act of God declaring the sinner to be righteous based on the imputed righteousness of Christ.6

Protestants reject the idea that good works play a role in justification, arguing that they are a result of justification rather than a cause of it.7 They believe that good works flow from saving faith but are not necessary for salvation itself.8 Protestants also reject the idea that justification can be lost through sin, arguing that once someone is justified, they are always justified.

Comparison and Contrast
At first glance, these two concepts of justification might seem to be at odds with each other. However, there are some similarities. Both Catholics and Protestants believe that justification is necessary for salvation and that it is a result of God’s grace. Additionally, both agree that there is a need for cooperation between God and humanity.

The primary difference, then, is in the understanding of what happens after justification. Catholics see this as a process that continues throughout one’s life, while Protestants see it as a one-time event. Protestants focus more on the imputed righteousness of Christ, while Catholics focus more on the righteousness that is infused in the believer.

Another difference is the role of good works. For Catholics, good works are seen as necessary for justification, while for Protestants, they are not. There is also a difference in the view of sin and its effects. Catholics believe that someone can lose justification through sin, while Protestants believe that justification is always secure.

These two concepts of justification reflect broader theological differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. Though there are some similarities, the distinction between increasing in justification and justification as a single event has remained a point of disagreement. While both traditions hold to the importance of grace in salvation, they differ on the role of good works and whether justification can be lost. Ultimately, this disagreement highlights the complexity of understanding salvation in Christianity.

1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1987
2 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2010
3 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1995
4 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1861
5 Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646
6 Romans 4:5-8
7 Ephesians 2:8-9
8 James 2:14-26

Genesis 1 – 11: Poetry or History?

Title: The Poetic Nature of the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis

The first eleven chapters of Genesis, often referred to as the Primeval History, have long been debated about their genre. While some scholars argue that they should be treated as historical accounts, others contend that the literary features indicate that it is a poetic work. This paper examines the language, structure, and themes of Genesis 1-11, to argue that they are more poetic than historical.

The book of Genesis is divided into two major parts: the primeval history (chapters 1-11) and the ancestral history (chapters 12-50). The primeval history tells the story of creation, the first humans, and the early generations. However, the genre of this section has been a topic of discussion among scholars for many years. The aim of this paper is to examine why the first eleven chapters of Genesis should be considered as a poetic piece rather than a historical one.

One reason why Genesis 1-11 is considered a poetic text is the use of repetitive language and phrases. For instance, the phrase “And God said” is repeated ten times in the first chapter of Genesis, which is characteristic of poetic texts. Moreover, the use of figurative language such as metaphors, similes, and personification is also more typical of poetry than a historical account. An example is the metaphor of the “Tree of Life” in Genesis 2:9, which signifies wisdom and immortality.

The structure of Genesis 1-11 also suggests that it is a poetic composition rather than a historical one. The repetition of phrases such as “And there was evening, and there was morning,” which appears seven times, creates a rhythmic pattern that is more typical of poetry. Additionally, the chiastic structure of the creation account in Genesis 1, wherein each day of creation is paired with its opposite, indicates a poetic intention by the author.

Finally, the themes of Genesis 1-11 support its poetic nature. The story of creation, the Fall, and the Flood are all universal themes that have been explored in many cultures and literary works throughout history. The creation account, in particular, uses symbolic, poetic language to communicate the idea of God’s creative power and sovereignty over the universe. The story of the Fall is also figurative, symbolizing the sin and shame that exist in the human experience. The Flood narrative, with its repeated use of the number 40 and its symmetrical structure, has many features of poetic composition.

In conclusion, the first eleven chapters of Genesis exhibit many characteristics of a poetic work, from the language used to the structure and themes present. While some scholars argue that these chapters are historical accounts, it is clear that the poetic nature of the text deserves a more prominent place in Genesis scholarship. Understanding these chapters as poetry allows for a fuller appreciation of the literary and theological artistry in the Bible.

Labor Relations 2 – Employees

The Bible contains several teachings about the proper way for employees to treat their employers. These teachings emphasize respect, honesty, and diligence in one’s work. Here are a few passages that address this issue:

  1. Colossians 3:22-24: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

While this passage specifically addresses slaves, its message can be applied to employees more broadly. The command to obey one’s “earthly masters” with sincerity and reverence underscores the importance of respecting one’s employer and their authority. The call to work “with all your heart” emphasizes the importance of diligence and excellence in one’s work, even when no one is watching.

  1. 1 Peter 2:18-19: “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.”

Similar to Colossians, this passage addresses slaves but can be applied to employees more broadly. The command to submit to one’s employer, even if they are harsh, is accompanied by a call to reverent fear of God. This emphasis on honoring God in one’s work underscores the importance of seeing work as an opportunity to serve God.

  1. Ephesians 6:5-8: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”

This passage, similar to Colossians, emphasizes the importance of obeying one’s employer with respect, sincerity, and wholeheartedness. The emphasis on serving not only one’s employer, but also God, highlights the spiritual significance of one’s work.

These passages demonstrate that the Bible teaches employees to respect and honor their employers, to work diligently and excellently, and to see their work as an opportunity to serve God. By doing so, employees can fulfill their role in God’s plan and live a life pleasing to Him.

Labor Relations 1 – Employers

The Bible has several teachings about employers and their treatment of workers, particularly in regards to paying them fairly and in a timely manner. Here are a few passages that address this issue:

  1. James 5:4: “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”

This passage from James is a direct rebuke of employers who fail to pay their workers their fair wages. The imagery of the workers’ cries being heard by God emphasizes the injustice of the situation and the gravity of the offense.

  1. Leviticus 19:13: “Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.”

In this passage from Leviticus, God commands His people to avoid defrauding or robbing their neighbors, including hired workers. Holding back wages was not only unjust, it was also a form of oppression and exploitation.

  1. Colossians 4:1: “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”

While this passage is specifically addressing slave owners, its message can also be applied to employers. The call to provide what is “right and fair” underscores the importance of treating workers justly and with respect.

  1. Deuteronomy 24:14-15: “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.”

In this passage, God’s command to pay workers fairly is accompanied by a warning about the consequences of failing to do so. The emphasis on paying workers each day before sunset underscores the urgency and importance of timely payments.

These passages demonstrate that the Bible emphasizes the importance of paying workers fairly and on time. Employers who fail to do so are guilty of defrauding and oppressing their workers, and are accountable to God for their actions.

Exploring Scriptural Interpretations: Sola Scriptura, Nuda Scriptura, and Prima Scriptura

In conversations around Protestant theology and biblical interpretation, terms such as “Sola Scriptura,” “Nuda Scriptura,” and “Prima Scriptura” often surface. While they may seem similar at a glance, each term carries distinct implications about the role and authority of scripture in the life of a Christian believer. Let’s dive into each of these terms to understand their differences and implications better.

Sola Scriptura

“Sola Scriptura” is a Latin phrase that translates to “Scripture Alone.” This principle, which emerged during the Protestant Reformation under leaders like Martin Luther, asserts that scripture is the highest and final authority in matters of faith and practice1.

According to “Sola Scriptura,” scripture is self-authenticating, clear to the rational reader, its own interpreter (“Scriptura sui ipsius interpres”), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine2. For instance, Martin Luther, when asked to recant his teachings at the Diet of Worms in 1521, famously stated that unless he was “convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason,” he would not recant, emphasizing the role of scripture as the ultimate authority.

Nuda Scriptura

“Nuda Scriptura” is a more extreme version of “Sola Scriptura.” Translated as “Bare Scripture,” it insists on Scripture alone to the exclusion of any other sources of wisdom or tradition3. In other words, it rejects not just the notion of tradition as an equally authoritative source alongside scripture, but also the idea of tradition as a useful interpretive tool.

An example of “Nuda Scriptura” can be seen in certain strands of independent or non-denominational Christianity that intentionally distance themselves from historical Christian tradition. Such groups often rely solely on the literal interpretation of the Bible for their beliefs and practices, without taking into account the interpretive wisdom offered by the historical church.

Another example of this would be the principle known as CENI that is a foundational doctrine among churches of Christ. This asserts that there must be a command, example or necessary inference from scripture to validate any practice or teachings. To do otherwise would make them unauthorized and possibly sinful. This was borrowed from the Westminster Confession.

Prima Scriptura

“Prima Scriptura,” translated as “Scripture First,” is a theological principle that holds scripture as the primary source of theological authority but not as the only one4. It accepts the value of tradition, reason, and experience, while placing scripture in a primary position.

The Anglican Communion, for instance, subscribes to this view with its formulation of the “Lambeth Quadrilateral,” which includes scripture, tradition, reason, and experience as four pillars of theological authority[^5^]. The Methodists also employ the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral,” a similar methodology named after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism[^6^]. In both cases, while scripture holds primacy, the other elements play crucial roles in shaping faith and practice.


While “Sola Scriptura,” “Nuda Scriptura,” and “Prima Scriptura” all focus on scripture as a crucial source of authority, the extent and manner in which they incorporate other elements such as tradition, reason, and experience differ significantly. Understanding these differences helps to appreciate the diversity in the interpretation and application of scripture within the broader Christian tradition.


  1. McGrath, A. E. (1999). Reformation Thought: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.
  2. Luther, M. (1521). Defense at the Diet of Worms.
  3. Mathison, K. A. (2001). The Shape of Sola Scriptura. Canon Press.
  4. Thorsen, D. (2005). The Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, & Experience as a Model of Evangelical Theology

Deconstructed Christians – What Happened?

Christian deconstruction stories are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society as people undergo a process of questioning and examining their faith. Many people who grew up in a Christian belief system may find themselves struggling with their faith, and these stories provide a way for them to explore their doubts and questions. While each individual’s deconstruction story is unique, there are several elements that many of these stories have in common.

1. A crisis of faith: The protagonist of a deconstruction story often experiences a crisis of faith, a moment where their beliefs are called into question. This could be initiated by any number of things – a traumatic experience, exposure to conflicting beliefs, or simply a sense of dissonance within themselves.

2. Questioning authority: Many deconstruction stories involve the protagonist questioning the authority figures in their life, such as pastors, religious leaders, or even their own parents. They may begin to see these figures as hypocritical, manipulative, or simply misguided.

3. Reassessing beliefs: As the protagonist continues to question their faith, they often begin to reassess their beliefs. This process involves examining their beliefs critically and questioning whether they still align with their values and experiences. For many, this involves a period of intense research and exploration.

4. Accepting uncertainty: Ultimately, many deconstruction stories involve the protagonist accepting that there may never be a clear answer to their questions. They learn to live with uncertainty, finding meaning in their doubts and seeking connections with others who have undergone a similar process.

5. Finding a new sense of purpose: While deconstruction stories often involve a rejection of traditional Christian beliefs, they still often involve a search for meaning and purpose. This could involve developing a new sense of spirituality, engaging in social justice work, or simply finding joy and meaning in everyday life.

These elements are not exhaustive, but they provide a framework for understanding the commonalities among Christian deconstruction stories. For those undergoing this process of questioning and examining their faith, it can be reassuring to know that they are not alone, and that their experiences are shared by many others.

The Olivet Discourse Fulfilled By Destruction of Jerusalem

The Olivet Discourse is one of the most significant passages in the Bible. Known also as the Little Apocalypse, it is a prophetic sermon given by Jesus Christ to his disciples on the Mount of Olives, just before his crucifixion. In this discourse, Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age, and many scholars have debated its interpretation in the years since. In this blog post, we will explore the biblical arguments for the Olivet Discourse being completely about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD.

First, it is important to consider the historical context in which the Olivet Discourse was given. Jesus delivered this sermon in response to questions from his disciples about the destruction of the temple buildings in Jerusalem. This event occurred in 70AD when Roman armies under the command of Titus destroyed the city and the temple, fulfilling many of Jesus’ prophecies in Matthew 24.[1] Based on this historical context, many biblical scholars argue that the Olivet Discourse is about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70AD.

Second, the language used in the Olivet Discourse supports this interpretation. Throughout the discourse, Jesus uses language that is focused on the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its temple. He speaks of the “abomination of desolation,” which is a reference to the statue of the Roman god Jupiter that was erected in the temple in AD 70.[2] He also describes the city being surrounded by armies, its inhabitants being killed or taken captive, and the temple being destroyed.[3] Such details align with what occurred in Jerusalem in 70AD and make it clear that the Olivet Discourse relates to this event.

Third, references to “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 and Mark 13:30 also support the idea that the Olivet Discourse relates to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Critics argue that the use of this term suggests that Jesus’ prediction of the temple’s destruction and other events should have happened within his disciples’ lifetimes.[4] Indeed, all those living at that time in Jerusalem would have seen these events occur in their lifetime, supporting the idea that the Olivet Discourse was predicting events that would occur shortly after his death.[5]

Fourth, Jesus’ warning to his followers to flee when they saw the abomination of desolation take place (Matthew 24:16) seems more applicable to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD than to any future event. When the statue of Jupiter was installed in the temple, Christians fled Jerusalem to avoid persecution and death at the hands of the Romans, just as Jesus had warned.[6] This warning is consistent with the above interpretation of the Olivet Discourse.

In conclusion, the Olivet Discourse presents a prophetic account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70AD. The historical context, language, and details found in the passage support this conclusion, as do references to “this generation” and Jesus’ warning to flee when the abomination of desolation takes place. Christians must study this passage closely to gain a better understanding of its message and how it applies to their faith.

[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 901.
[2] Ibid., 899-900.
[3] Ibid., 893-898.
[4] Ibid., 901.
[5] Davis W. Huckabee, “The Olivet Discourse and the Destruction of Jerusalem,” in Messiah, the Healer of the Sick: A Study of Jesus as Physician in the Gospel of Matthew, Library of New Testament Studies (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2003), 72.
[6] France, 902-903.

Did the Early Church Teach Sola Scriptura?

The doctrine of sola scriptura, which is Latin for “Scripture alone,” is the principle that the Bible is the sole authority for Christian faith and practice, and that tradition and human reason should not have authoritative roles in determining Christian doctrine. It emerged as a central tenet of Protestantism, particularly in the writings of Martin Luther and John Calvin. However, it is not a doctrine that was held by the early Church fathers. In fact, the Church fathers held to the opposite view, that Scripture and tradition were both authoritative sources of Christian teaching, and that the interpretation of Scripture should be guided by the tradition of the Church.

Here are a few examples of what some of the early Church fathers had to say about the authority of Scripture and tradition:

1. Irenaeus (c. 130-202 AD)

Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyon, wrote in his work “Against Heresies” that Christian teaching was based on “the preaching of the truth delivered down from the apostles, and preserved in the Church.” He emphasized the importance of the apostolic tradition in interpreting Scripture, and argued that the true sense of Scripture could only be discerned through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in continuity with the teaching of the Church.

2. Tertullian (c. 155-240 AD)

Tertullian, an early Christian apologist, wrote in his work “Prescription Against Heretics” that the “rule of faith” was derived from both Scripture and the tradition of the Church. He argued that the true interpretation of Scripture could only be found within the context of the Church’s teaching and practice.

3. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)

Augustine, one of the most influential theologians in the history of the Church, wrote in his work “On Christian Doctrine” that the interpretation of Scripture should be guided by the “Rule of Faith,” which included both the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church. He argued that the Church had been given the authority to interpret Scripture by Christ Himself, and that the Scriptures could only be understood in light of the Church’s teaching.

In conclusion, while the doctrine of sola scriptura is a distinctive feature of Protestantism, it was not a belief held by the early Church fathers. The Church fathers maintained that Scripture and tradition were both authoritative sources of Christian teaching, and that the interpretation of Scripture should be guided by the tradition of the Church.

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