Thursday, June 23, 2005

Why Blue Bicycles are Not Really Red

I have a red bicycle. Well, okay, it seems to be blue when you first look at it. But you must understand, blue is really just a product of red. And in my belief, even the green part is really a product of red. Therefore, I have a red bicycle, even if it appears to be blue. Therefore, I proudly exclaim sola crimsona! ( I would have used the Latin here, but no one except the latin-titled blogs would have caught it).

Language and labels are funny things. I can apply just any formal label to just anything I want, regardless of how inconsistent that label is with the reality of the thing it labels. After all, it's my label and my thing.

My dog purrs and meows. Now you might deny it's really a dog, but I'm saying it is. You cannot therefore accuse me of owning a cat. Why? Because the formal label I use is "dog," not cat. Yes, I'll admit, it's confusing language. Yes, I'll admit, it prima facie appears to be a cat. But, I assure you it is a dog, in spite of appearances. Nevertheless, whenever I take my dog to the dogshow, those bigots there do not recognize my dog. They think their dogs and their dogs alone are "pure" dogs, untainted by "feline" corruption. Yet for all that, I maintain the "dogness" of my animal; and for all the other differences I might have with them, no one can deny that we share at least that much in common. Therefore, I proudly exclaim sola canine!

I have a horse whose sire was a donkey. Yes, I know, some people call this a "mule." But he is pure horse and nothing else. Sola equus!

If you've been following the comments section of "The Hyper-Sacramentalist and the Roman Catholic Concept of Grace" (just scroll down a few entries), then you'll understand how all this applies. The Roman Catholics have been insisting RCism really does hold to sola gratia. Is this because there is no human effort involved in attaining eternal life? Well, no. There is human effort involved, but that human effort is initiated and aided by God's grace. So then the recipient of that grace need not worry about anything regarding his salvation since it is all of God's grace? Well, no. He needs to actively cooperate with that grace in order to "merit" eternal life (although we don't really mean "merit" in the strict meritorious sense of "earn"; however, if you don't do these works then you cannot "gain" the "reward" of eternal life--not to be confused with "earn," mind you). So then, it's merely an act of the human will? Well, no. He must do works to qualify for the attainment of eternal life; and those works primarily consist of observing the sacraments, but also include all acts of charity. But you're saying these works are all of God? Well, not technically. These works are accomplished by "truly his own works"--although these are not really his works but God's; on the other hand, be sure you are careful not to consider them God's works to the exclusion of the man's works, or you'll be in danger of placing yourself under the anathema of Trent. Behold, sola gratia!

And my bicycle is really red.