Sunday, October 30, 2005

Some Texts on the Doctrine of Justification

[I'm doing a bit of brushing up on the subject, so this post is mostly just a link-post for my own use]

A Reformed View: Discernment About Justification in the Fathers, at "Historia Ecclesiastica"

A Catholic View (circa 1910): Justification at the Catholic Encyclopedia

A Catholic View: Justification by Christ Alone and Justification in Catholic Teaching, by James Akin

Some Historical Documents

Lutheran-Catholic Discussion (20th Century): Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification: "We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. By the action of the Holy Spirit in baptism, they are granted the gift of salvation, which lays the basis for the whole Christian life. They place their trust in God's gracious promise by justifying faith, which includes hope in God and love for him. Such a faith is active in love and thus the Christian cannot and should not remain without works. But whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it."

Lutheran-Catholic Discussion (20th Century): Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration: "Whereas for Lutherans this doctrine has taken on an altogether particular significance, for the Catholic Church the message of justification, according to Scripture and already from the time of the Fathers, has to be organically integrated into the fundamental criterion of the "regula fidei", that is, the confession of the one God in three persons, christologically centred and rooted in the living Church and its sacramental life."

Lutheran-Catholic Discussion (20th century): a Lutheran response to the Joint Declaration, at The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod: "We distinguish between the result of justification, which is the Christian life, and the work of God to save us. Rome mixes sanctification with justification. Why is this view troublesome? Because it teaches that something other than trust in Christ is necessary for or salvation. That "something other" is what we bring to the table. And the only thing we do bring to the table is our sin, not our good works. Our works are a response that God works in us, but not a contributing cause to our justification."

Newman (19th Century), Anglican period: Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification: "Justification, then, viewed relatively to the past is forgiveness of sin, for nothing more it can be; but considered as to the present and future it is more, it is renewal wrought in us by the Spirit of Him who by His merits completes what is defective in that renewal. And Faith is said to justify in two principal ways:—first, as continually pleading our Lord's merits before God, and secondly, as being the first recipient of the Spirit, the root, and therefore the earnest and anticipation of perfect obedience."

The Council of Trent (16th Century): Sixth Session: "If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema....If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema."

John Calvin (16th Century: Antidote to the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent: "The whole dispute is as to The Cause of Justification. The Fathers of Trent pretend that it is twofold, as if we were justified partly by forgiveness of sins and partly by spiritual regeneration; or, to express their view in other words, as if our righteousness were composed partly of imputation, partly of quality. I maintain that it is one, and simple, and is wholly included in the gratuitous acceptance of God. I besides hold that it is without us, because we are righteous in Christ only."

John Calvin (16th Century): Of Justification by Faith, at "A Puritan's Mind": "A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness; for as iniquity is abominable to God, so neither can the sinner find grace in his sight, so far as he is and so long as he is regarded as a sinner....The order of justification which it sets before us is this: first, God of his mere gratuitous goodness is pleased to embrace the sinner, in whom he sees nothing that can move him to mercy but wretchedness, because he sees him altogether naked and destitute of good works. He, therefore, seeks the cause of kindness in himself, that thus he may affect the sinner by a sense of his goodness, and induce him, in distrust of his own works, to cast himself entirely upon his mercy for salvation."

Theodore Beza (16th Century): Faith and Justification at "Reformation Ink": "[W]e speak thus with the Apostle, and we say that by faith alone we are justified, insomuch as it embraces Him who justifies us, Jesus Christ, to whom it unites and joins us. We are then made partakers of Him and an the benefits which He possesses. These, being imputed and gifted to us, are more than sufficient to make us acquitted and accounted righteous before God."

Francis Turretin (17th Century): Institutio Theologiae Elencticae, Question 16: "The justification of the wicked, of which Paul speaks, Rom. 4:5, ought not to be referred to an infusion or increase of habitual righteousness, but belongs to the remission of sins, as it is explained by the Apostle from David. Nay, it would not be a justification of the wicked, if it were used in any other sense than for a judicial absolution at the throne of grace. I confess that God in declaring just, ought also for that very reason to make just, that his judgment may be according to truth. But man can be made just in two ways, either in himself, or in another, either from the law, or from the gospel. God therefore makes him just whom he justifies, not in himself as if from a sight of his inherent righteousness he declared him just, but from the view of the righteousness, imputed, of Christ."

John Bunyan (17th Century): Justification by an Imputed Righteousness: "If any works of ours could justify us before God, they would be works after faith received; but it is evident that these do not; therefore the righteousness that justifies us from the curse before God is a righteousness inherent only in Christ."

Jonathan Edwards (18th Century): Justification by Faith Alone: "A person is to be justified, when he is approved of God as free from the guilt of sin and its deserved punishment, and as having that righteousness belonging to him that entitles to the reward of life. That we should take the word in such a sense, and understand it as the judge’s accepting a person as having both a negative and positive righteousness belonging to him, and looking on him therefore as not only free from any obligation to punishment, but also as just and righteous and so entitled to a positive reward, is not only most agreeable to the etymology and natural import of the word, which signifies to pass one for righteous in judgment, but also manifestly agreeable to the force of the word as used in Scripture."

Augsberg Confession (16th Century): Of Justification: "Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight."

Martin Luther (16th Century): The Method and Fruits of Justification: "He that studieth to fulfil the law without faith is afflicted for the devil's sake; and continues a persecutor both of faith and the law, until he come to himself, and cease to trust in his own works; he then gives glory to God, who justifies the ungodly, and acknowledges himself to be nothing, and sighs for the grace of God, of which he knows that he has need. Faith and grace now fill his empty mind, and satisfy his hunger; then follow works which are truly good; neither are they works of the law, but of the spirit, of faith and grace; they are called in the Scripture the works of God, which He worketh in us."

Thomas Aquinas (13th Century): The Effects of Grace: "The entire justification of the ungodly consists as to its origin in the infusion of grace. For it is by grace that free-will is moved and sin is remitted. Now the infusion of grace takes place in an instant and without succession....[T]he justification of the ungodly is not successive, as stated above; but in the order of nature, one [stage] is prior to another; and in their natural order the first is the infusion of grace; the second, the free-will's movement towards God [i.e., conversion to God]; the third, the free-will's movement towards sin [i.e., by detesting it]; the fourth, the remission of sin."

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