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October 05, 2006


Brent Robbins

Thanks Jimmy for the answer.

Also, I thought it was somewhat interesting that verse 3 states, "And this we will do if God permits." The very next sentence states "For it is impossible..." as if it's saying, "if God does not permit, then...."

Just my thoughts.



I enjoyed your "technical statement fallacy" article. That was helpful.

One comment: isn't the "Thou shalt not kill/murder" issue sort of a bad example? It seems to me more like a translation problem than a problem of assuming a technical statement.

Second question: what do you do with a passage that Catholics prefer to interpret in a more technical sort of way? (I'm thinking of John 6).



You show that the context indicates a more technical interpretation is appropriate, as is relatively easy to do with John 6.

Old Zhou

A less technical reflection on the question....

I find that many of the "once saved, alway saved," proponents are of two sorts:
- preachers, trying to bring about that moment of conversion in members of their audience,
- young people, who, having come to some point of repentance, sincerely want to be sure that, if they sin again, they won't be dangling over the flames in front of an Angry God.

Even among those who entertain the idea of an eternal, or ontological, salvation relationship with God entered upone by some particular, single act (be it predestination, sacramental baptism, or "believing), as time goes by and life becomes increasingly complex, "salvation" and "being saved" tend to become much more important in their "here and now" aspects of the trials and tribulatios of human life, regardless of the ontological beliefs.

In other words, how we are "being saved" right now, today, in our temptations, in our relationships with the people around us, in our actions, thoughts, fantasies, schemes, reactions, becomes, I believe, much more important than any esoteric argument about "assurance of salvation."

And, if you are "being saved" today, I think there is a pretty good chance that you will be saved in eternity.

See Philippians 2:12-13.

John E

"And, if you are "being saved" today, I think there is a pretty good chance that you will be saved in eternity."

Makes sense to me. As you grab that life saver and are being pulled to shore, the longer you continue to hold onto it and re-take it when you slip off, and the closer to shore you get, the liklier you are to actually make it to shore.


Having also looked at the Greek, I can find nothing particularly wrong with the NIV (and RSV and KJV) translations of Heb 6:6. The first 'kai' in Heb 6:6 is surely to be translated as something like 'and yet', since it contrasts a preceding list of positive things with a negative thing. BDAG (a standard Greek lexicon) gives one of the numerous ways in which 'kai' can be used as meaning 'and yet', or 'and in spite of that', or 'nevertheless'. Depending on the context, 'and yet' can quite correctly be translated by the English 'if'.
Consider these two sentences:
(1) Those drivers who clean their windshield, check their oil, buy the latest maps, and yet do not fill their gas tanks, will not be going anywhere.
(2) Those drivers who clean their windshield, check their oil, buy the latest maps, if they do not fill their gas tanks, will not be going anywhere.
Though (1) uses 'and yet', and (2) uses 'if', there is no difference in meaning. Similarly with the translations of Heb 6:6.


Having "small Latin and less Greek" all I can contribute is a suggestion re: Hebrews 6:6.

Is it possible the meaning is that:

It is impossible for those who have been in grace and rejected it to find forgiveness WHILE they are rejecting the One Saving Sacrifice of Christ. That is to say, no amount of bull blood will ever equal a drop of God's Blood.

Breaking the Moses-mediated bull blood covenant of Sinai deserves death; yet again the deserved wages of sin are death. Recovery involves repentance offered through the high priest(Day of Atonement)and a renewal of the covenant (Passover).

How much worse the deserts of a willfully sinning apostate who disdains the offering of the Body and Covenant-Blood of the Son of God, insulting the Spirit of Grace? There is no further Sacrifice (though again, renewal of the One Offering is not only possible but commanded.)

Yet the same Jesus is a permanent Day of Atonement High Priest, whose Covenant is renewed in the Eucharist. Jesus will save all who approach him as the Eternal High Priest but apostasy and the failure to discern Christ's Body as the New Passover Lamb are fatal.

So, it is impossible for a willful apostate to repent. It is possible, with God, for a man to cease being a willful apostate, repent, and renew the Covenant in Christ's Blood.

Can't recall where I may have seen this (Scott Hahn?)but that's the little I can offer.

Yours (in hope)in Christ, Rex

Some Day

It is reference to sins against the Holy Spirit I believe. See, the severity of such a sin puts the soul in such a state that salvation is impossible not because of a limitation of God's mercy, but that the sinner is incapable and hostile to seek repentance and forgiveness. That is the state of demons, who in their angelic nature, perfect, made a decision and is incapable of reversing his choice. But a devil did once say that if he had a second we humans waste and Mary, he would be forgiven. That can teach us to cherish the time we have left and dedicate it entirely to God in whatever state of life we are in.

David C

Another interpretation of Heb 6.4-6 (I believe it may have been St. Ambrose's) is that the author is saying that "renew them again in repentance" is speaking of baptism. That is, you can't be rebaptized, because that would be crucifying Jesus all over again.

You could possibly even make the argument that the participial phrase "crucifying Jesus once more" restricts the meaning of the former: "it is impossible...to renew them again in repentance [by] crucifying Jesus once more"...but that seems like a stretch to me.


It's like the situation with the Sinner's Prayer and the belief by Protestants that if you say it, you're saved and always will be.

The sinner’s prayer is very, very basic to the evangelical, fundamentalist movement of the modern era and it basically states that as Romans 10:13 says, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It’s basically rooted there and if you back up to Rom 10:9f it says, if you confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved; for man believes with his heart and so is justified. (RSV)

That’s not a good translation there in the RSV. It’s actually: for man believes with his heart 'unto' justification. It’s really not 'and so is justified'.

At any rate: …and with the mouth is confession made unto salvation.

Now, the belief is all you have to do to be saved then is to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth and so you are saved. But, the bottom line is: this is a classic example of taking a couple of verses of Scripture way out of context because, as I mentioned, even this text, it doesn’t say believe in your heart and you are justified. It says, with the heart, man believes unto – it’s eis (ice) dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo' -nay) which means ‘unto justification’… and with the mouth confession is made eis (ice) soteria (so-tay-ree'-ah) which means ‘unto salvation’ which indicates a process moving toward a goal.

It’s not a finished deal even in the text of Romans 10. It’s not either Faith or Works – it’s both. Jesus isn’t either Man or God – He is both. And what we do as Catholics is say ‘yes’, you know, confession with the mouth, belief in the heart, is absolutely crucial in our process of salvation leading up to our salvation but we have to take all the other verses of Scripture where Jesus says in Matthew 10:22, you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake but he that endures to the end shall be saved; Mark 16:16: he that believes and is baptized shall be saved; Romans 13:11, Paul says: Now Salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. You know, Paul talks about, Jesus talks about salvation not only as a sort of only one-time event – though we certainly have that in Ephesians 2:8-9 For by Grace you have been saved. Yes, we have. How have we been saved? Through Baptism, we’ve been incorporated into Jesus Christ. Romans 6:3-4 tells us that; Galatians 3:27. So many verses of Scripture tell us that we are buried with him through Baptism. We have been saved, absolutely. But, we are also in the process of Salvation and so we take verses like Romans 10:9-10 and say, hey, don’t stop there. Yes, confession with the mouth is essential for our Salvation but so is perseverance until the end and so is Baptism and so is the Eucharist, the Sacraments, etc.


Terah-, are we then not saved by Grace?.

Brother Cadfael


Yes, we are saved by Grace. Is there something about the Sacraments that you think is opposed to grace?


I don't know that the "Sacraments" are opposed to grace- but my question to Terah is based on her statement that salvation is by "both" faith and works.
However Romans 11:6 contradicts this quite explicitly by saying that it is not by both.
So there is a dilema there, especially when you consider that Romans 4:3 (hermeneutics), says "...Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness"--It seems all Abraham had to do was believe!, no mention of works there.
" However, to the man who DOES NOT WORK but trusts God who justified the wicked, HIS FAITH is credited as righteousness". Romans 4:5.
Again , I was curious to know how these scriptures are interpreted in light of her comment that it is "both".

Some Day

If you really believe, you act. If not you are insane.

Faith and works are two sides of the same coin, like salvation and sanctification.

God saves us by sanctifying us.

Faith MEANS acting out our belief.

Paul (if you read all of his letters, and aren't just lifting out a verse here and there) teaches that works of the Mosaic ceremonial law are no longer part of the economy of God's grace, but but he certainly does not shy away from the requirement of holy living in order to inherit eternal life.

There are works of the Old Law,and there are works of faith in Christ. The latter are required to attain salvation, the former are not.

Works does not necessarily mean external acts. Acceptance of the Gospel and submission to God's will are "works" as well... works of faith, not of the law.

We are required to perform whatever works Christ commands, if we can. Christ commands that we be baptized. He commands that we receive the Eucharist. Obedience in these things is the very definition of faith. These are "works of faith".

Tim J.

Sorry, that was me.


Some Day-, that's "fine and dandy", however nice sayings do not do away with the scriptures i quoted.
Whoever-, which of the scriptures quoted is out of context?....
I don't know if you knew this (or not)- but the "law" that Paul is referring to is not only the "Mosaic ceremonial law", but the "law" of works unto salvation (whichever it may be).
This is simple to demonstrate by the fact that Abraham was justified without works hundreds of years before the "mosaic law" came into being.
Can you explain that?.

Some Day

Abraham was justified because he not only believed in God, but lived by the Law engraved into the bronze of our soul. You don't need to teach a child not to kill. That is engraved in the soul. Abraham followed God's law implicitly present in him. The fact that he believed in God genuinely implies that he acted according to that belief and love of God. Keyword is genuine.


"Was not Abraham justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness'; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." Letter of James, chapter 2, verses 21-24.

As Tim pointed out, faith and works are 2 sides of the same coin. "So faith by itself, if it has no works is dead" (James 2:17). And works, without faith, are of no avail. This is not an "either or", but a "both and".

Brother Cadfael


You do realize, I'm sure, that the Bible says, quite explicitly, that one is not saved by "faith alone"?

Brother Cadfael

As bill said. :)


Some Day_, "Abraham was justified because he not only believed in God, but lived by the Law engraved into the bronze of our soul"...that's nice, but again, Romans 11 says you are wrong asuming that there is to be something else besides Faith!.
You see if we extract Faith from your equation, we are then left with a "nice", "moral" person- a Jehovah Witness could fit that criteria.
But if we extract Works from your equation, we then have Faith- the Faith of Abraham!.
I believe you are confusing the fruits of Faith with Faith itself.
Again I ask, how then do you interpret Romans 4:5 ?.


bill912-, Before you all gang up on me ( I think I hit a nerve...unintentionally I asure you!)- Abraham did not "offer his son on the altar", that is precisely the point!.
Before he lifted his hand, Abraham was justified!- why? , because he "believed" Paul says, never mentioning the "act" of sacrifice.
Your quote of James is out of context, easily explained by asking you then, are James and Paul contradicting each other?.
Again I ask- how do you interpret these passages of scripture?


Gang up on you? Good grief!


bill912- O.K.-, I was having a little fun by making that comment!, I guess I should have used one of them " :) ", but be that as it may, how do YOU interpret Romans 4:5 ?.


The beautiful thing about Catholicism is that we take all of the Scriptures along with our Tradition that really brings the Scriptures together. When somebody says, are we justified by Faith? We say yes. Are we justified by Works? We say yes; because the bible says both. Are we justified by faith? Yes, Romans 5:1 says that. We believe it. Are we justified by Works? Yes, James 2:24; in fact, can’t put it any more plain. There is no way. I argue that it is impossible for the Scriptures to make it any more plain than to say this: we see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Now, I don’t see how the bible – I mean, what words possibly could the bible use to say any better that we’re not justified by faith alone other than to say we’re not justified by faith alone? – But works also! Now, are we justified by works alone? No – and the Catholic Church has never taught that. We are, as Ephesians 2:8-9 says: by grace we have been saved through Faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works less any man should boast. The key there is ‘not of ourselves’. The faith that we have is not of ourselves. The works that we do is not of ourselves; it is totally of the grace of God. We must cooperate with that grace that God gives us but we cannot work our way to heaven, we can’t even 'faith' our way to heaven apart from the grace of God that brings us that faith and empowers us to do those works as Paul puts it in Galatians 2:20: I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I live, but Christ lives in me and the faith that I now have or the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God. That has been the Catholic position for 2000 years. Look at Romans 2:6-7. See, the key is that word ‘works’ when Ephesians 2:8-9 says: ‘by grace you have been saved through faith and not that of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works’; the Protestant will say – see, it says ‘not of works’; therefore, they exclude all works as being involved in our salvation. But, that’s not what Ephesians does. If you read the context of Ephesians, Paul, there, is talking about the initial grace of salvation that we receive in baptism, which is entirely unmerited. I mean, most Catholics are cradle Catholics. They were baptized as little babies. They did nothing to merit the gift of salvation. By the way, even an adult convert absolutely does nothing to merit the gift of salvation. However, once we enter into Christ, then we’ve got a new ballgame. In fact, in Ephesians 2:10, St. Paul then says: for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus onto good works. We must then begin to work in accordance to Romans 2:6-7. The Scriptures says: God will render to every man according to his works, to those who by patience and good works seek for glory and honor and immortality, God will give them eternal life. He will reward them with eternal life for their good works according to Romans 2. The key is: don’t get trapped by, you know, not by works in Ephesians 2. That’s talking about works we do by our own power. No, the works that we do that justify us, contribute to our justification, are works we do in Him, with Him, and Through Him as we say in the Liturgy referencing Romans 11:36.

But, then, we also see those verses of Scripture where Jesus said in Mt 12:37, for example, by your words you will be justified, by your words you will be condemned. We see the final judgment in Mt 25:31-46 where Jesus separates the sheep and the goats and the only difference between the sheep and the goats is what they did and did not do.

Again, we see in James 2:24 where James in the most plain words possible says that we see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. What the Catholic Church does is take not only these and other Scriptures; but we take all of them and we have a coherent theology that emphasizes both grace and obedience or 'good works'.

P.S. 'Terah' is also a male name; he was the Father of Abram.


terah-, I am not disputing how we KEEP salvation, I am however disputing how we OBTAIN it.
I think we are not arguing the same subject.
I think the Catholic view confuses working FOR salvation and working FROM salvation.

Matt McDonald


I think part of the problem is a lack of precision about the Catholic position. While we all have a good sense of what it is, we don't express it in the precisely, and that leads to misunderstandings.

We are not saved by our faith although it is "the beginning, foundation and root of all justification", we are not saved by our works, we are not saved by our own power at all. We are saved by grace alone. Grace is a freely given gift from God. We are infused with sanctifying grace upon our baptism when we are cleansed of original and personal sin. If we reject God through sin we lose grace, if the sin is "unto death" we no longer have sanctifying grace because of the radical rejection of God. When we do good works, God grants additional graces as rewards (not earnings), additional graces help us to do more good, and avoid sin.



Thanks Matt-, I happen to agree with just about everything you wrote, except I don't see how you come up with Grace as it pertains to Soteriology.
If it is just the "beginning" as you say, then it needs something else to come to fruition.
This is what Paul is denying!.
Do you believe God Sanctifies before He Justifies?.


To all readers of this page...do not be deceived by the eisegesis done on the passage in Hebrews. There are too many who have formed their own opinions of what this passage means, including myself, but that's all they are...opinions. Before I studied the Greek text in great detail, I used to use the text to affirm my belief in assurance of the believer, thus taking the passage out of context myself. However, I assure you that this passage of scripture isn't even talking about one's salvation.

The literal translation of the Greek text reads:

"Therefore leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ let us be borne (carried) upon the full growth not laying down again (a/the - undetermined article) foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith upon God teaching of baptisms not only of laying upon of hands but also of resurrection (the - undetermined article) dead (plural) and of eternal judgment (singular) and this we will do if (eav) indeed the (determined) God permits for those once being enlightened not only having tasted of the gift of the heavenly but also becoming sharers of the Spirit of Holy not only tasting good word of God but also power of coming age unable again to renew unto repentance."

In order to understand this passage, we must discover what the context is by looking at what the writer of Hebrews is trying to say. He is writing to believers who are continuing in their judaism instead of puting their christian faith into practice. The writer of Hebrews speaks in chapters 4 and 5 about Christ becoming our High Priest. If you recall in the Old Testament, Aaron was the high priest but because he was subject to weakness, he not only had to offer sacrifices for the people, but for himself as well. Christ on the other hand was the perfect sacrifice and became the source of eternal salvation for all who have faith in him. Now, the writer of Hebrews rebukes the christians he's writing to because they are still going to the Jewish synagogues even though they have received Christ, but they aren't puting their faith into practice. This in turn has caused them to "...need someone to teach (them) the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."


Thanks Trae for the above!

About the literal translation you provided, did you translate that yourself or obtain it elsewhere? If the latter, could you tell us where? It would be great to have it for reference.

The literal translation you gave initially struck me as kinda funny since it almost looked like something that you would get out of the Alta Vista Babel Fish when trying to translate text from a different language into English!


Also, based on your own personal study of Greek, is the Greek syntax of the original texts that different when comparing between Paul's epistles?



Consider this:

The Catholic Teaching is that Justification is a past act, a present activity and also a future reality. Because justification can be accurately reduced to the idea – it’s complex but simple – the idea of divine sonship.

At the moment a person is born into a natural family, that person is a child of his family. But, that person is expected and required to grow up. If, at the age of 2, a person is still filling his diapers, there’s no problem with that. That person would be trained not to. But, at the age of 22, if that person refuses to grow up, and that person was not growing beyond his childish ways, something would be seriously wrong.

So, justification and sonship is a process because sonship itself is a dynamic, lived process whereby we mature into Christian perfection. We conform ourselves to the image of the first-born among many brethren, as Romans 8 says.

Consider both James 2:24 and Paul’s teaching on justification in Romans 3 and 4 together.

In Romans 4:3, when Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 it says: ‘Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’.

It’s not referring just to the very beginning of Abraham’s salvation experience because it’s taken from Genesis 15. It would almost require us to believe that Abraham in Genesis 12, 13 and 14 wasn’t saved, wasn’t justified.

In Genesis 12, of course, he leaves his kindred, he leaves his homeland; he follows God; he accepts the Promise by Faith; he goes to the Promised Land.

In Genesis 13 and 14, he fights against armies that have captured his nephew; he tithes to Melchizedek; he’s blessed by Melchizedek; he shows himself to be an opponent of the evil in Sodom.

He’s done so much before you get to Genesis 15:6, that I think you’re hard-pressed to see Paul twisting a text out of context and suggesting that up until Genesis 15, Abraham had not been regenerated, that he did not have a saving faith, that he didn’t have a personal relationship with God. I think that Genesis 15:6 is actually highlighting his justified status as a growing son of God on the basis of the fact that from before Genesis 15, going back to Genesis 12, 13 and 14, he is God’s son.

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