In a discussion that I briefly encountered James White in on November 21, 2000, I made mention of "the innovations of Luther" and James (NA27) quickly generated a "popup" taken from "The Epistle of Mathetus to Diognetus" which was written about 130AD.

It is clear that James used the exact same translation as is found on www.cin.org, and I have quoted the entire paragraph that he cited. As you can see, the text is identical, right down to the punctuation, though the numbering of the sentences has been removed in James' quote.

Now, what we also find within this same document is something quite contrary to the Lutheran/Calvinist view of grace. I have included an excerpt from Chapter XI that points out the fact that Methetus had the same belief in grace as we still do today in the Catholic Church.
Presented by James White:

<NA27> This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of
working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in
that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be
vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might
through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that
its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for
manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with
hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He
Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors,
the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the
immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By
what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet
exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a
single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us
in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Savior who is able to save
even those things which it was
[formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His
kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and
Life... (Mathetes to Diognetius, Chapter 9).
NA27 notes that was written 1300 years or more before Luther posted the 95 Theses. :-)
<NA27> So much for "innovations." :-)
Presented by Scott Windsor
Chapter IX.-Why the Son Was Sent So Late.

From: http://www.cin.org/fathers/diognetus.html (see the whole text here)

As long then as the former time46 endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness,47 so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward,48 punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how49 the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us,50 He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!51 Having therefore convinced us in the former time52 that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious53 concerning clothing and food.

From Chapter XI:

This is He who, being from everlasting, is to-day called60 the Son; through whom the Church is enriched, and grace, widely spread, increases in the saints. furnishing understanding, revealing mysteries, announcing times, rejoicing over the faithful. giving61 to those that seek, by whom the limits of faith are not broken through, nor the boundaries set by the fathers passed over. Then the fear of the law is chanted, and the grace of the prophets is known, and the faith of the gospels is established, and the tradition of the Apostles is preserved, and the grace of the Church exults; which grace if you grieve not, you shall know those things which the Word teaches, by whom He wills, and when He pleases. For whatever things we are moved to utter by the will of the Word commanding us, we communicate to you with pains, and from a love of the things that have been revealed to us.


Now, I ask you, how can "grace...increase in the saints" in Calvinist theology? Is that grace somehow "imperfect" that it can be increased? Or, are these "saints" able to "do something" to see an increase in their "grace?"

So yes James, we see that the context of Mathetus' epistle to Diognetus still denies the Lutheran/Calvinist concept/innovation of grace.


Now, I understand that James came into #CathApol later that same day (November 21, 2000) and made a statement that I had embarrassed myself in making the above claim. James and I have yet to run into each other, but I make this an open letter...

James, how can there be an "increase" in "grace" in the Calvinist system? I quote this from the "Statement of Faith" from Alpha and Omega Ministries: "We believe that God, in His sovereign grace and mercy, regenerates sinful men by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by any action of their own, bringing them to new life." So we see here that grace comes from God, which we agree on, - but where do we see it possible, anywhere in this Statement of Faith, to "increase" in grace? Yet, this is what Mathetes is saying. Do you withdraw your quote from Mathetes or do you have an addendum to your Statement of Faith?


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