Saturday, January 9, 2010

Are Roman Catholics Judaizers?

As of late, I have seen several comparisons of Roman Catholic theology (of which I don't adhere to as a system) with the Judaizers whom Paul spoke against in Galatians. As someone who is interested in ecumenical reconciliation among Christians, and in the interest of intellectual honesty and fairness, I'd like to clarify the issue. What were the Judaizers trying to do? They were attempting to reintroduce Jewish works of the law into Christian practice and saying they were necessary to attain salvation. Even Peter was taken in by this and separated himself from the Gentile Christians until confronted by Paul.

Now, is it right to equate this with Roman Catholic theology? I don't think so. The situation is completely different. Roman Catholics do not teach a works based salvation as the Judaizers were. Their doctrine is far more subtle than that. They believe that once justified, they are infused with Christ's righteousness and, by God's grace, they are able to do good works that are meritorious (I disagree with this. I think our works play no part in our justification. That work was completed on the cross. Our good works flow out of our full salvation--I have found many times that RC's and protestants talk past one another)(click here for more info). The Catholics have not reintroduced Jewish dogmas back into Christianity and do not insist that you must perform them in order to be saved.

In fact, recently many Catholics have expressed agreement with Luther's formulation of salvation by faith (click here).

In summary:

  • Judaizers were trying to make works the means of salvation.
  • Catholics do not make works the means of salvation.
  • Catholics are not Judaizers.


Rhology said...

Hey Brennon,

You need to broaden the categories with which you think about this issue. The Judaisers weren't just trying to intro JEWISH laws into Christian practice. They were trying to add JUST ONE WORK to faith for justification. Think about it that way, then check Galatians again. RC dogma is most certainly Judaising reborn.

The Catholics have not reintroduced Jewish dogmas back into Christianity and do not insist that you must perform them in order to be saved.

They have simply reintroduced WORKS into JUSTIFICATION. That's the point.

Now, if you want to talk about talking past each other, a better example is EOdoxy. Definitely not RCC.

Grace and peace,

bossmanham said...

RC dogma is most certainly Judaising reborn.

I don't see many Catholics trying to get people to circumcise themselves in order to be Christian. As protestants, we need to update our view of RCC theology, because despite the lip service they give to Trent and other medieval declarations, there has been a lot of modification of their theology of justification.

The problem comes in what each side is taking the word "faith" to mean. From my dialog with RCC's, I have taken a lot of time to pin down what they mean. Most of the time, they think what the protestant means by faith is what James was speaking against in the 2nd chapter of his epistle. Once you explain that the protestant's explanation of faith is not a simple mental assent to Jesus as Lord, but a submission and complete trust that leads to a changed life unto works, the gray starts to fade.

I'm not saying there are no issues that need to be worked out, but to say that Catholics are promoting a salvation by works is oversimplifying the issue, IMO. And they definitely aren't implementing Jewish works back into Christianity and excluding those who aren't, which is what the Judaisers were doing.