Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fruits of the Holy Spirit

I found Candy's most recent post to be a bit contradictory to some of her other recent writings. Previously she said:

On the other end of the spectrum, is one who does good works, but does not have saving faith. In other words, there are some people who call themselves Christian, but they do deeds/works in order to get them into heaven. They call Jesus Lord, but their lack of faith in the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice as evidenced by still trying to earn salvation, prevents them from being saved, and getting into heaven.

As I wrote then, the only difference between someone claiming to be Christian and someone who is Christian is their interior motivation for performing the good works. But today she writes that the fruit produced are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which really aren't good works at all.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." -Galatians 5:22-23

She says that the unsaved produce different works:

The unsaved person produces works of the flesh, for they don't have the Spirit of God helping them:

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." -Galatians 5:19-21

If this is the case, then would someone who is unsaved and trying to earn their salvation be producing this list, instead of the fruits of the Holy Spirit? I'm just confused on this one.

Going back to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I also find it odd that although she lists nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, the only one she really mentions in her blog regularly is JOY! Would a true Christian need to bear all of these different fruits, or is it okay to only bear joy?

I do not feel she is correctly defining "meek." She says:

meekness (don't be prideful or braggadocios) defines meekness as:

1.humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
2.overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.
3.Obsolete. gentle; kind.

1. forbearing; yielding; unassuming; pacific, calm, soft.

Personally, I do not feel that statements such as "your prayers are meaningless," "God has already condemned you to hell," or even "I've never been known to sugar coat, so don't let my name fool you. If you like people who just tell it like it is, then you'll like my blog" to be compatible with meekness, gentleness, or kindness.

I looked up the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Catechism, and I noticed that the idea that the virtues are automatically produced, easily, by those who are saved is clearly not a Catholic theological idea. Notice the importance of grace, again.

1811 It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ's gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.

Regarding the fruits of the Holy Spirit in particular, the Catechism says:

1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.110

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.111

1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity."112

The Catholic Encyclopedia elaborates on the difference between the fruits of the Spirit, and virtues:

Some writers extend this term to all the supernatural virtues, or rather to the acts of all these virtues, inasmuch as they are the results of the mysterious workings of the Holy Ghost in our souls by means of His grace. But, with St. Thomas, the word is ordinarily restricted to mean only those supernatural works that are done joyfully and with peace of soul.

Moreover, there is no doubt that this list of twelve -- three of the twelve are omitted in several Greek and Latin manuscripts -- is not to be taken in a strictly limited sense, but, according to the rules of Scriptural language, as capable of being extended to include all acts of a similar character. That is why the St. Thomas Aquinas says: "Every virtuous act which man performs with pleasure is a fruit." The fruits of the Holy Ghost are not habits, permanent qualities, but acts. They cannot, therefore, be confounded with the virtues and the gifts, from which they are distinguished as the effect is from its cause, or the stream from its source. The charity, patience, mildness, etc., of which the Apostle speaks in this passage, are not then the virtues themselves, but rather their acts or operations; for, however perfect the virtues may be, they cannot be considered as the ultimate effects of grace, being themselves intended, inasmuch as they are active principles, to produce something else, i.e. their acts.

Further, in order that these acts may fully justify their metaphorical name of fruits, they must belong to that class which are performed with ease and pleasure; in other words, the difficulty involved in performing them must disappear in presence of the delight and satisfaction resulting from the good accomplished.

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Milehimama said...

I am doing Stacy Mitch's Courageous Women: A Study in Virtue right now, so this is timely for me.

Virtue is not automatic or unthinking. Virtues are a habit.

It seemed to me that Candy was saying that if you are saved, you won't sin (produce works of the flesh) and will automatically do good things.

It is interesting to note that when I was chatting with her husband, he claimed that only 5% of Christians who THINK they are saved, are actually saved.

Which doesn't seem very sure at all.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you guys would take this on. It seems to me that there are a lot of "extras" in her interpretations of the bible and what the verses mean. Not being a bible expert, I can't say for sure, but so many things come from Candy that I've never head before, even when referencing verses I've heard before.

I am assuming her stance on this is part of the once saved, always saved belief? And, if that is the case, I'd have to say that explains a lot of why I don't get it.

just said...

This is totally OT, but I bet you'll know :)

When I converted and left an EvFree church, I still went to Bible studies there. This fall they are planning a very structured study of Luke. I'm wondering if you can tell me whether there are enough protestant vs catholic distinctives in Luke that it will drive me crazy? Thanks.

Milehimama said...

Since Luke is the basis for the Hail Mary, I'm guessing you'll have problems from the very first chapter.

I have heard Rosalind Moss' study on Luke is excellent, but haven't heard the entire thing. It could help give you a grounding in the authentic interpretation.

just said...

Thanks; I'll look her up.