30 August, 2009

Discussion with "St Alan servant of Jesus" about justification

(St Alan servant of Jesus) At the very moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of Justification by faith alone, the Roman Catholic Church ceased to be a legitimate church by denying the gospel.

(Cristoiglesia) You are starting from a false premise which is what leads you to false conclusions. Justification by faith alone is not a biblical doctrine and denying the veracity of faith alone is not denying the Gospel but instead defending the Gospel against false teachers. The Catholic Church does not deny the Gospel but instead we spread the Gospel of our Lord throughout the world.

Jas 2:24 Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?

(St Alan servant of Jesus) Martin Luther declared that justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls.

I think I know from what writing you are paraphrasing but it would be helpful to provide a link so that we can see all of what Luther wrote in context. Many people who quote Luther out of context do not know the entirety of his teaching on justification. Although his interpretation and conclusion was wrong in regards to justification he was certainly not as great a heretic on this issue as some suggest.

Some conclude from the teaching of Luther on Sola Fide that all that is required for justification is a one time intellectual assent of faith but Luther himself denied this from his Large Catechism:

"But our know-it-alls, the new spirit people, claim that faith alone saves and that human works and outward forms contribute nothing to this. We answer: It is of course true that nothing in us does it except faith, as we shall hear later. But these blind leaders of the blind refuse to see that faith must have something in which it believes, that is, something it clings to, something on which to plant its feet and into which to sink its roots. Thus faith clings to the water and believes Baptism to be something in which there is pure salvation and life, not through the water, as I have emphasized often enough, but because God’s name is joined to it.... If follows from this that whoever rejects Baptism rejects God’s word, faith, and the Christ who directs us to Baptism and binds us to it (1978, pp. 101-102).

[I] affirm that Baptism is no human trifle, but that it was established by God Himself. Moreover, He earnestly and solemnly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved. No one is to think that it is an optional matter like putting on a red coat. It is of greatest importance that we hold Baptism in high esteem as something splendid and glorious. The reason why we are striving and battling so strenuously for this view of Baptism is that the world nowadays is full of sects that loudly proclaim that Baptism is merely an external form and that external forms are useless.... Although Baptism is indeed performed by human hands, yet it is truly God’s own action (1978, pp. 98-99)."

(St. Alan servant of Jesus)

1. Justification is an act of God whereby He declares unjust sinners to be just after He has imputed to then the righteousness of Christ.

(Cristoiglesia) It seems as if you are saying that initial salvation does not create a real change in a person’s soul with sanctifying grace but instead ones sinfulness remains and is covered by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness so that one’s filthy, depraved soul can be smuggled into heaven regardless of its state of true sanctification. It seems that you believe it to be a legal act instead of a true cleansing of the soul through the eradication of sin and a disguise to enter heaven. The Catholic view is that the soul is renewed to its pre-fall state and is pleasing to God in its purity and goodness. Justification takes away sin and does not cover sin:

Joh 1:29 The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him; and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

The covering of sin from a scriptural standpoint only applies when we forgive another’s sin because only God can truly forgive sinfulness

(St. Alan servant of God)

2. No one can earn justification by good works.


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:

(St. Alan servant of Jesus)

3. Faith is the necessary condition to receive the imputation of the merits of Christ.

(Cristoiglesia) From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God's love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that "the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth," because "heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away.

"43 He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man,"44 justification entails the sanctification of his whole being:
Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. . . . But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.45

(St. Alan servant of Jesus)

4. Justification requires a living and real faith, not a mere profession of faith.

(Cristoiglesia) What does this statement mean to you? If it means that we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit to do God’s will as a result of our regenerated souls being more inclined to respond to the law written on our hearts then I would agree. Here is what the Catechism says:

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"
Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.51

2002 God's free initiative demands man's free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of "eternal life" respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:

If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed "very good" since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.52

2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit."53 Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.54

2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.55

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.56 However, according to the Lord's words "Thus you will know them by their fruits"57 - reflection on God's blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

!A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God's grace, she replied: 'If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.'"58

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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