Skip to comments.Justification: Vital Now & Always (Reformed Caucus)
Posted on 09/06/2006 6:05:01 AM PDT by Ottofire
Vital Now & Always
by Michael S. Horton
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Throughout the Middle Ages, churchmen in the highest places of the Roman Church warned against a creeping Pelagianism, the 5th century heresy that denied grace. Medieval theologians attempted to reach a compromise between those on one hand who emphasized the bondage of the will and the believers sole dependence on grace and, on the other hand, those who emphasized the necessity of human cooperation in attaining salvation. A popular medieval slogan read, God will not deny his grace to those who do what lies within their power. When the average peasant or priest, however, placed his head on his pillow at night and entrusted his soul to Christs safe-keeping, pleading his cross, he was affirming the Gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone even though it was not articulated in such terms.
Even during the Reformation, the debate on the Roman side was so fluid that conferences were taking place with great frequency, attempting to achieve a common formula for understanding this classic biblical teaching. After all, it had been Romes best and brightest philologists and textual critics who, employing the Renaissance attitudes toward primary documents, had uncovered the corruptions in the translation of the Greek New Testament text in Jeromes Latin Vulgate. No less a Roman Catholic luminary than Erasmus of Rotterdam had pointed this out, even though he was often employed by Rome in its defense.
As this new learning, as it was called, brought to light the meaning of the original biblical texts, many of the leading Renaissance humanists felt compelled by the obvious evidence to join the Reformation. Even on the eve of the irreconcilable schism, at a conference at Regensburg in 1541, the emperor convened a council at which Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist leaders agreed on a common formula for defining justification.
In spite of these advances, the pope repeatedly condemned the Reformers and issued edicts calling for their death. Although a number of leading churchmen begged the pope not to actually promulgate the Council of Trent in its condemnation of justification by grace alone through faith alone, they clearly did not win the day. The year of the Councils official promulgation by the pope -- 1564, signaled the end of Romes existence as a true visible church.
The Reformations critics will tell you that Luthers doctrine was the product of his own idiocyncratic piety. Fearful of losing his salvation over even the slightest sins, Luther's struggle with a holy God drove him to find things in Scripture that simply were not there. They will tell you that Luther's intense existential struggle over the question, How can I be right with God? is an individualistic emphasis that one does not find in church history. But what is that question we find more than any other question in the New Testament? How then can I be saved? What must I do to be saved? These things are written that you may know that you have eternal life. This is not just the struggle of an overly scrupulous German monk; it is the cry of the fallen human heart, sensing its estrangement from God.
The church that Luther and so many of his contemporaries found in their day was hardly acquainted with this existential dilemma. Referring to the schism of the 14th and 15th centuries, one scholar observes,
For nearly half a century, the Church was split into two or three obediences that excommunicated one another, so that every Catholic lived under excommunication by one pope or another, and, in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which of the contenders had right on his side. The Church no longer offered certainty of salvation; she had become questionable in her whole objective form--the true Church, the true pledge of salvation, had to be sought outside the institution. It is against this background of a profoundly shaken ecclesial consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary of salvation.
I hope that the credibility of this historical assessment will not be called into question, as it comes to us from the pen of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the [former] head of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for the Church of Rome. (1)
Much more at the site ( http://www.modernreformation.org/mh94justvital.htm )
GPRL ping! Morning folks!
As the gavel came down to close the final session of the Council of Trent in 1563, Rome had officially and, according to her own commitment down to the present moment, irreversably, declared that the Gospel announced by the prophets, revealed in and by Christ, and proclaimed by the apostles, was actually heretical. The most relevant Canons are the following:
Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone...let him be anathema.
Canon 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins...or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.
Canon 12. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy (supra, chapter 9), which remits sins for Christs sake...let him be anathema.
Canon 24. If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.
Canon 30. If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.
Canon 32. If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, and eternal life...let him be anathema.
It was, therefore, not the evangelicals who were condemned in 1564, but the evangel itself. The good news, which alone is the power of God unto salvation was judged by Rome to be so erroneous that anyone who embraced it was to be regarded as condemned. In consequence, however, Rome condemned herself.
But the same judgment applies to all Protestants--liberal, conservative; evangelical, fundamentalist; charismatic, or even Lutheran or Reformed, who in any way reject or obscure this Gospel of Christ. At the beginning of this statement, I referred to the popular medieval slogan, God will not deny his grace to those who do what lies within their power. A modern equivalent might be, God helps those who help themselves. According to recent surveys, 87% of todays evangelical Protestants affirm this view of salvation, with 77% agreeing with the statement that man is basically good by nature. Not even at the Council of Trent did Rome tolerate this essentially Pelagian concept, and yet it is affirmed by the clear majority of the supposed heirs of the Reformation.
Therefore, this is not an exercise in bigotry, nor an attempt to renew ancient hostilities; it is a battle for the Gospel in the face of any--whether pope or evangelist, who would allow this doctrine to be hidden from those who even today will be passing from this world to face the judgment of our God and of his Christ.
In the time remaining for this opening statement, I would like to explain the evangelical doctrine of justification, defend it, and the contrast it with the Roman position.
What Is Justification? Infusion or Imputation, Process or Declaration? Both Roman Catholics and Protestants believe in justification. Furthermore, it can be said that at least historic Roman Catholics and Protestants believe in justification by grace. However, the definitions of these terms could not be more diametrically opposed between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Rome maintains that justification begins with baptism, as the habit or disposition of grace is planted in the soul. This renews the individual, thus giving him or her a capacity for cooperating with Gods grace in the process of justification. Later, there are other sacraments that may be appropriated for the infusion or inpouring of grace. Sin may interupt or impede this progress, but the sacrament of penance may restore the level of grace necessary to continue the process of justification. By cooperating with the grace thus offered in the sacraments, an individual may actually merit the grace of final justification, but as this is at the end of the process, the believer can never know whether he will actually attain final justification. In short, justification and sanctification are essentially synonymous in the Roman system: God declares us righteous because we are truly righteous in our disposition and actions.
(Again more at the site. I cut the article short 'cause I hate reading huge articles from this usually unformatted plain text'd site, preferring to read from the original site...but I am sure there will be someone to complain about fairness.)
The Reformations critics - LOL- If it were up to these ..err, "critics", no one would have a bible in their native tongue to examine Luther's teachings.
If justified = saved, and I assume they are the same here, then what else is needed to be saved?
Rome maintains that justification begins with baptism, as the habit or disposition of grace is planted in the soul. This renews the individual, thus giving him or her a capacity for cooperating with Gods grace in the process of justification. Later, there are other sacraments that may be appropriated for the infusion or inpouring of grace. Sin may interupt or impede this progress, but the sacrament of penance may restore the level of grace necessary to continue the process of justification. By cooperating with the grace thus offered in the sacraments, an individual may actually merit the grace of final justification, but as this is at the end of the process, the believer can never know whether he will actually attain final justification. In short, justification and sanctification are essentially synonymous in the Roman system.IMO an exceptionally good summary of the Catholic teaching/practice of justification and sanctification. Makes for a good starting place to understand our differences....
Why would one think they are the same??? One big clue as to why they are not is that they are spelled differently...
What's the difference?
In the Reformed faith, justification is the one-time offering of Christ for His sheep. Christ suffered, died and was resurrected for our sins. Those sins, every last one of them, have been paid for by the shed blood of Christ.
We have been redeemed.
Justification means we are right in God's eyes because of the work of His perfect Son on our behalf. We could not save ourselves. Christ saved us. He took the punishment due us, thus enabling us to now stand acquitted before God.
Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner -- (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 513). "The phrase in ipso (in him) I have preferred to retain, rather than render it per ipsum (by him,) because it has in my opinion more expressiveness and force. For we are enriched in Christ, inasmuch as we are members of his body, and are engrafted into him: nay more, being made one with him, he makes us share with him in every thing that he has received from the Father." -- (John Calvin Commentary on 1 Cor 1:5) "This calling is an act of the grace of God in Christ by which he calls men dead in sin and lost in Adam through the preaching of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, to union with Christ and to salvation obtained in him." -- Francis Turretin
"Those whom, God effectually calls he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them or done by them, but for Christs sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God" - Westminster Confessions of Faith, Ch. 11.
Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner -- (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 513).
"The phrase in ipso (in him) I have preferred to retain, rather than render it per ipsum (by him,) because it has in my opinion more expressiveness and force. For we are enriched in Christ, inasmuch as we are members of his body, and are engrafted into him: nay more, being made one with him, he makes us share with him in every thing that he has received from the Father." -- (John Calvin Commentary on 1 Cor 1:5)
"This calling is an act of the grace of God in Christ by which he calls men dead in sin and lost in Adam through the preaching of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, to union with Christ and to salvation obtained in him." -- Francis Turretin
We have become justified (have become just) to receive the free gift of salvation...
God wanted to make his chosen people jealous...He wanted to offer the Kingdom of God as well as the Kingdom of Heaven to us heathen people...
God knew we could never live up to His laws because His own couldn't do it...So He says, Well I can't even look at sin so somehow I still hafta have a sacrifice...And it's gotta be a blood sacrifice but their blood is no good...
So He says to Jesus, well Son, you're going to have to be the sacrifice to justify this operation...You have to cover their sin, blot it out but it's gonna cost ya...And then God says, after You justify these folks, they can freely ask for salvation...And get it...
That's the difference...
LOL!!! I wonder if they'll drop their excommunion status against Luther? Heck, I wonder why they just don't defacto us Protestants into the Church with a infallible decree and be done with it. ;O)
Something I learned was Catholics have reinterpreted the atonement as well. There is no mention of Christ dying as a subsitute for your sins. That's simply because they have reinterpreted the atonement to mean it was only an act of love.
People are justified before they believe?
Except for the last sentence (which is okay), it's an exceptionally bad summary of the Catholic teaching on the subject of justification.
That's nonsense, Harley.
Isa 45:25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
But will all the seed of Israel be saved??? Nope...
Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Will all men accept the free gift of salvation??? Nope...
The scripture does a fair job of interpreting itself, if you compare scripture with scripture...
But will all the seed of Israel be saved??? Nope...
Romans 9:6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Predestined, called, justified, and glorified are different, but they are also inseparable so it is fair to say that one who is called is saved, because he is justified and glorified.
romans 12: 26 And so all Israel will be saved,[g] as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.[h] 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
All of true Israel will be saved. Justified = saved.
CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.
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