Tuesday, November 16

The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it must Continue! by Robert L. Reymond

The following is a re-posting. Please read and heed! 


The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it Must Continue!, by Robert L. Reymond, Mentor, 2001, 155pp. 


As the old saying goes, ‘You shouldn't judge a book by its cover'. And as far as this volume is concerned, the hoary cliche holds good. I mean, take a good look at the cover, ignoring the words for a moment. For starters it's purple, which alternates with pink as my teenage daughter's favourite colour. Then did you notice the little diamond motif? Everyone knows that diamonds are a girl's best friend. Taken together these two features might suggest that what we have here is a fine specimen of chick lit. But that ain't the case. Reymond is a bloke and his offering isn't about knitting, ponies or romance. So, you can't judge this book by its purple, diamondy cover. But you can judge it by it's subtitle, The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it must Continue! Did you get that? It's not The Reformation's Conflict... What was all that About? or Why it was a bad thing and should Stop! Oh no, unlike some Evengelicals,  Robert Reymond wants the conflict to continue. 'Why on earth is that?' You might ask. I'm not telling you.

Seeing as this is ostensibly a book review, you might expect me to attempt to summarise Reymond's monograph and offer an appraisal of his efforts. But, no. I'm not even going to use the review as an excuse to dilate on the subject in hand with some thoughts of my own. Not this time. What I'm going to do is list the kind of people who should give serious attention to this book. So, here goes:

If you think that the Reformation's conflict with Rome is is about as relevant today as a mobile phone that doesn't take photos, then you should read this book.

If you think that the difference between the Reformers and Rome on justification by faith alone or justification by faith plus works are of little consequence to sinners in the light of the day of judgement, then you should read this book.

If you think that it doesn't matter that Rome elevates its traditions and the infallible declarations of the pope to the same level as Scripture, then you should read this book.

If you think that recent Protestant attempts at rapprochement with Rome like Evangelicals and Catholics Together are a jolly good idea, then you should read this book.

If you think that the Reformation's alone's are not needed to preserve the integrity of the gospel against Rome's and's then toll lege, take and read.

Even if you are none of the above, then this monograph will help you to see with fresh eyes the momentous difference between Rome and authentic biblical Christianity. Your vision of the gospel of free grace will be clarified and enhanced. You too should read this book. 

The trouble is, having said all that, the book is sadly out of print. You won't get a copy from the publisher, but Amazon.co.uk has one left in stock and some new copies are available from the Amazon Marketplace. Failing that, you'll have to make do with a diseased secondhand copy. I mean, have you never sneezed while reading? Be brave. Even if you can only get a scabby used copy, take the risk and read this refreshingly honest account of the Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it must Continue!


Michael Gormley said...

12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,
13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work.
14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.
15 But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
(1Corinthians 3: 12-17)

In these passages - 1 Corinthians 3:12-17 - Paul is talking about how God judges our works after death by using a string of metaphors (we are God's building; works are good and bad materials, etc.).

Paul says that if a person builds with good materials, he will receive a reward (verse 14). If he builds with a mixture of good and bad materials, his work is burned up, but he is still saved (verse 15).

If he only builds with bad materials, he has destroyed the temple, and God will destroy him (verse 17).

These passage demonstrates several things. First, it demonstrates that our works serve as a basis for determining our salvation.

This is contrary to the erroneous Protestant belief that, once we accept Jesus by faith alone, we are saved.

Protestants have no good explanation for why Paul is teaching the Corinthians that our works bear upon our salvation.

Second, the verse demonstrates that, if a person does both good and bad works, his bad works are punished, but he is still saved.

The Greek phrase for "suffer loss" (zemiothesetai) means "to be punished" (Purgatory).

This means the man undergoes an expiation of temporal punishment for his bad works (sins) but is still saved.

The phrase “but only” or “yet so” (in Greek, houtos) means "in the same manner." This means that the man must pass through the fire in the same way that his bad works passed through the fire, in order to expiate himself of the things that led him to produce the bad works in the first place.

David R. Nelson said...


Thank you for your thoughtful response. I read your profile and certainly appreciate the angst you must have faced in your younger days. And praise the Lord, He is able to save all those who come to Him in faith, trusting in Him to do the work of re-creation (2 Cor. 5:17). I also read the salvation article which you recommended, the one by Katrina Zeno. It has much to commend it.

In response to your comments, please allow me to “go behind” you with a protestant view.

You said-
“In these passages - 1 Corinthians 3:12-17 - Paul is talking about how God judges our works after death by using a string of metaphors (we are God's building; works are good and bad materials, etc.).”

I answer.
Paul is talking not so much about “how” God’s judges, but explaining “that” God will judge the works of those who are his readers. And who are his readers? Chapter 1:2 says that they are “called saints.” Note that the verb “to be” is supplied, though not a problem if it were there. The point is that Paul is writing to saints, the phrase is kletos hagios (called holy ones), those who have already been declared holy. Contrary to the RC belief, all believers are termed saints (see the beginning of most epistles). Now, we would agree (I think) that within any congregation there will be those who are not genuine “believers.” And there are also those who could be living substandard Christian lives even IF it might be argued that they are truly saved. That is a valid issue for sure and must be addressed by every protestant. Paul addresses himself to this issue most clearly in 2 Cor. 13:5, but it seems also here. Therefore, he cannot be talking only to true believers as to how they can make sure that they are saved, but to those who are on the periphery and who need a “wake-up” call to examine themselves.

If the concern is that there are many in Protestantism who have presumed upon their “faith,” I would agree. Thus, in living sinful lives, “knowing” (?) that their destiny is secure, they imagine that all is well. I do NOT believe that works saves us, but that those whom God has saved through Jesus Christ will produce good works (Eph. 2:10), and that those “works” become a sort of litmus test of the validity of their faith. This faith is accomplished by Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9), but does produce the fruit of good works. Furthermore, I do not give anyone assurance of salvation, that is the Spirit’s office. However, I can show them how they can find it. In fact, I am currently teaching through 1 John which was written primarily so that those who believe may “know” that they do (5:13). And throughout there is one example after another defining how that true faith produces certain acts and behavior commensurate with a genuine salvation. For more on faith v. works, Paul has made this clear (Rom. 4:4-5; 11:6; Gal. 3:2-6; Eph. 2:1-10).

David R. Nelson said...

Con't . . .
Re: the building motif . . .
The supreme issue has to do with the composition of the foundation. Of course, it is through Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. This foundation cannot be destroyed, so the means by which we are saved is not destroyed either.

“Destroy” ??
So, what is destroyed? In 1 Cor 3:16-17 the word “you” is in the plural, thus referring to the group of those in whom the Spirit dwells, viz., the church. So, the next crucial question has to be, “Can anyone really ‘destroy’ the church of Jesus Christ?” They may attempt it. We know that Jesus had said that “the gates of hell would not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). So, the one who is destroyed is the one who tries to tamper with the true Church. That is what God takes seriously.

The fire “tests” (dokimadzo) which refers to “learning the genuineness of something by examination and testing.” There are ways that people can try to add things to the foundation laid by Jesus Christ which would seek to undermine his very work on the cross. It is those undermining actions which God will judge and take quite seriously. This applies to church leaders and to the attendee as well.

That zemiothesitai means “suffer punishment” or “to be punished” is true enough. But to whom is it aimed? At those who try to destroy the very basis upon which the church is built, namely the one foundation, Jesus Christ. This was the battle Paul faced with the Galatian church, and he spares no words in condemning them for it! (See Gal. 1:6ff).

Obviously, from the previous statements I’ve made regarding works and faith, it would be unnecessary to await a further purgation. Therefore, the whole doctrine of Purgatory is one created to suit a works based religion. I cannot see how you can make the 1 Cor. 3 passage fit into a purgatory schema since he’s not talking about individuals but those who attack the larger group of believers, or the church.

Michael Gormley said...

Dear David,
Very thoughtful and insightful comments.

Therefore, the whole doctrine of Purgatory is one created to suit a works based religion.

Matthew 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 –Jesus teaches us, “Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

The word “opponent” (antidiko) is likely a reference to the devil (see the same word for devil in 1 Peter 5:8) who is an accuser against man (c.f. Job 1.6-12; Zechariah
3.1; Revelation 12.10), and God is the judge.

If we have not adequately dealt with satan and sin in this life, we will be held in a temporary state called a prison, and we won’t get out until we have satisfied our entire debt to God. This “prison” is purgatory where we will not get out until the last penny is paid.

Matthew 5:48 - Jesus says, "be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect." We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a transitional state we call purgatory.

David R. Nelson said...

Thank you again for your comment. The parable you cite re: the Unforgiving Servant tragically pictures the heart of a person who though having been offered free forgiveness (through Jesus death, burial & resurrection) turns around and refuses to offer that same forgiveness to others. The kingdom of God is peopled with forgivers, those who've freely received it and therefore freely give it to others. That the man refused to forgive (in the parable) reveals that he had not become a child of God at all. Those who are not saved pay their debt forever in hell. There's no getting out of it. "As it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" (Heb. 9:27).

While the term "accuser" is most definitely applied to the devil (it is what the word Satan means), Luke 12:57 is speaking of a general principle between people, not our (as it were) making a pact with the devil. None of us can "pay" the devil for our sin. That was accomplished by Jesus on the cross. "And you, who were dead in your trespasses ... God made alive together with him (Christ), having forgiven us ALL our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside nailing it to the cross." Now, note this further, "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Christ)" (Col. 3:13-15). Most take these "rulers and authorities" to mean the devil and his minions. It's done completely by Christ! We can only be perfected IN Christ.