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Thomas Aquinas on Operating, Co-Operating, and Prevenient Grace :: Summa Theologica

I have summarized articles three and four of question 111 in the prima secunda of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica: ”Of the Division of Grace.”   All quotations from the Summa are taken from the English Translation, Summa Theologica, trans. the Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 5 vols., rev. ed. 1948; repr., Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1981.

Grace Is Fittingly Divided Into Operating and Co-Operating Grace

IN SUM: Operating grace refers to God’s gracious work in a sinner, i.e. God’s gracious “operating.”  Co-operating grace is the human effect of God’s operating, namely, the human will moving the person unto meritorious works.  Operating grace always comes first, for all co-operating grace is the effect of God’s operating grace.  A person is justified by operating grace, and subsequently consents with this operating grace as a result of such grace.

Grace can refer to God’s moving of the human to will and to act, or it can refer to God’s bestowal of a habitual gift (the gift of a new disposition which then becomes the principle of meritorious works).  Each of these graces can be thought of in terms of operating grace and also co-operating grace.

First, with regard to God’s moving of the human to will and to act, “the operation of an effect is not attributed to the thing moved but to the mover” (I-II.111.2).  Thus, since the human is moved but does not do the moving, this kind of grace is called operating grace, since God is the only one operating.  However, this operating grace causes an effect in the human whereby by the human mind, after being moved, also moves (i.e. moves the other powers—i.e. the will begins to will the good, which moves the person to act exteriorly, etc.].  Thus there is an interior act of the will (ceasing to will evil and beginning to will the good) and also an exterior act subsequently commanded by the will.  In these operations of the human (both interior and exterior) God strengthens the will interiorly “so as to attain the act” and also grants the outward capability of the exterior operation.  Since the human will is also operating as the effect of God’s operating, this kind of grace is called co-operating grace. Augustine says: “He operates that we may will; and when we will, He co-operates that we may be perfect.” (I-II.111.2).

Second, with regard to God’s bestowal of a habitual gift, “inasmuch as this gift heals and justifies the soul, or makes it pleasing to God, is called operating grace; but inasmuch as it is the principle of meritorious works, which spring from the free-will, it is called co-operating grace.” (I-II.111.2)

However, such free will and such works are the effect of God’s operating grace.  “God does not justify us without ourselves,” as Augustine says: “He Who created thee without thyself, will not justify thee without thyself.”  “Whilst we are being justified we consent to God’s justification (justitiae) by a movement of our free-will.  Nevertheless this movement is not the cause of grace, but the effect; hence the whole operation pertains to grace.” (I-II.111.2.ad2).

“Operating and co-operating grace are the same grace” only “they are distinguished by their different effects.”  (111.2.ad.4).

111.3 Grace is Fittingly Divided into Prevenient and Subsequent Grace

IN SUM: Grace refers to the temporal effect of God’s eternal love.  Prevenient grace refers to grace that causes a subsequent effect, subsequent grace refers to this effect inasmuch as it is an effect of the prevenient grace.

“God’s grace is the outcome of His mercy” (I-II.111.3, cf. Ps 59:10; 23:6)

“There are five effects of grace in us:” (I-II.111.3)

  1. to heal the soul
  2. to desire good
  3. to carry into effect the good proposed
  4. to persevere in good
  5. to reach glory

“Grace, inasmuch as it causes the first effect in us, is called prevenient with respect to the second, and inasmuch as it causes the second, it is called subsequent with respect to the first effect.” (I-II.111.3)  Likewise, from #2 on, each grace can be considered both prevenient to the next and subsequent to the previous.

While God’s love is eternal, grace refers to a temporal effect of this love. (I-II.111.3.ad.1)

This division does not divide grace with regard to its essence but only with regard to its effects (as with operating and co-operating grace).  “For even the charity of earth is not voided in heaven.” (I-II.111.3.ad.2)

Through prevenient grace “we are presently justified” (I-II.111.3.ad.2).

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92 Comments

  1. […] Thomas Aquinas on Operating, Co-Operating, and Prevenient Grace :: Summa Theologica and Thomas Aquinas on the Essence of Grace :: Summa Theologica […]

  2. Pastor Matt says:

    Can you give me a hand?

    Would you see prevenient grace the same as Augustine’s view of operative grace? In other words, are they synonyms? Or is the contemporary teaching of prevenient grace found in Wesleyanism different from that of the 1500’s?

  3. Pastor Matt,

    IN SUM: Aquinas aspired to stay faithful to Augustine’s teaching on grace, but Aquinas didn’t mind incorporating old ideas in new ways. As I understand it, prevenient grace is operative inasmuch as it moves the will, but prevenient inasmuch as it logically precedes faith, just as cause logically precedes effect (even if they are temporally indistinguishable).

    I will try to explain and answer your other questions:

    Thus operative grace underscores how any motion in the human will or otherwise towards God is the result of grace, and thus looks upon all human godliness, holiness, and fruits of the Spirit, as the results the “operation” of grace.

    Prevenient grace in Aquinas’s theology further underscores this unconditional character of grace, because if God’s grace (which moves the human’s will, a will which is always free by its very nature and cannot be otherwise) always precedes any movement of the will towards God, then grace is not something that is given to the human as a result of their “free will decision” to accept it. Rather, any decision to accept grace would, in this line of thought, be an inevitable result of saving grace.

    Thus we could not say that the reason why a particular person is converted to Christ and moved to faith in the true God is because such a person chose to respond with a “yes” to God’s grace, as if God first worked his grace, then we had decided whether we would allow that grace to “go further” or whether to push it away. The reason is because this implies that our “decision” to allow grace to “go further” or save us is not itself part of the “operation” of grace, but must be distinguished from grace so as to protect “free will.”

    Another helpful distinction is this: “co-operation” in Aquinas does not mean that God’s grace goes only so far, then we must co-operate, for operation and co-operation are more comparable to, say, the “operation” of a father who pushes a stroller with his kid in it, and the “operation” of the stroller that moves according to the power of the Father’s push. The latter “co-operates” inasmuch as it moves (even if it moves by the power of another).

    The free will is efficiently moved by grace toward faith and all other saving graces. But I would have study Augustine’s notion of “operative” grace more carefully to see whether Aquinas may have split a few more hairs than Augustine did. There may be a further distinction I need to make if I studied these more closely.

    Also, I’m not a Wesleyan expert but according to my understanding Wesley held more-or-less to an Arminian view of prevenient grace, a view that Aquinas would’ve had no place for, since prevenient grace for Aquinas always produces the effect it aims for–saving faith (the moving of the will towards Christ in faith). Thus, for Aquinas, prevenient grace necessarily produces its intended end of saving graces (faith, hope love, justification, etc.), whereas in Arminian theology (as I understand it) prevenient grace is not sufficient for the effect of saving faith because the will’s free motion is not the proper object of prevenient grace. Grace can only beckon the free will, as it were, not actually “move” it. Augustine and Aquinas on the other hand

    Wesley, as I understand him, like other Arminian theologians, restricted the operation of grace to protect his idea of “free will” (and differing notions of what free will actually consists in always produce differing theologies of grace).

    As to your question about the 1500′s: Well, Aquinas lived in the 1200′s not the 1500′s. Yet his theology was not surpassed in the Medieval period (in my opinion and in popular Catholic and Protestant opinion). Since the Medieval period produced such a diverse number of views on grace, I don’t think it’s fair to let Aquinas somehow represent the entire 1200′s, 1300′s, 1400′s or 1500′s. In other words, as in any era of human history, there is no such thing as “the understanding of prevenient grace in the medieval period or the 1500′s” although there are probably a lot of oversimplified historiographies that would lead people to think otherwise.

    Hope that helps,

    Bradley

  4. Pastor Matt says:

    Bradley,

    Thank you so much for your thorough answer. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.

    The reason for my question is that I am reading the material that was sent back and forth between Luther and Erasmus. Erasmus is discussing the different types of Grace and I am trying to understand it.

    The first almost sounds like the Calvinistic view of Common Grace; he calls it natural grace. The second grace he calls ‘peculiar grace’ or ‘operative grace’ (i.e. stimulating grace). The third he calls cooperating grace; thus carrying things to completion.
    What is interesting is that he considers this 2nd grace (operative/peculiar) as imperfect. It seems to me that underneath this peculiar/operative grace that man’s free will is the determining factor on whether or not things move on to 3rd grace. Thus, making it a lot like a modern Wesleyan view of Prevenient grace.

    From what you wrote, (hopefully I am understanding you correctly) Aquinas and Augustine would see prevenient grace in a manner that grace moves the will to accept the gift rather than moving the will to a neutral state so that mankind can make up his mind. Am I also correct in that Augustine saw this prevenient grace as irresistible? Would that be also true for Aquinas?

    Thanks for the help with this. Grace and Peace to you my friend.

    ~matt

  5. Matt,

    Yes. You’ve got it.

    Augustine indeed teaches that grace is irresistible, and so does Aquinas. Calvin tends to get credit for it, but Augustine is the first major theologians who articulated a robust doctrine of grace against the Pelagians that underscored the “nature” of grace as a power that compels the will to believe freely, and from this flows love and all the other graces.

    Also for Augustine (and therefore Aquinas), justification meant “to make righteous” (not “declare righteous”) in this way—in other words, grace necessarily changes the very interior of a person’s will, heart, understanding, etc. It “makes” them believe in Christ, hope in God, love God and neighbor, and thus “fulfill the law” (not perfectly, but in the I John 2:4 sense and Pauline sense of “love fulfills the law”).

    This is why a non-forensic understanding of justification as “to make righteous” can be totally grace centered and does not necessarily result in some man-centered, Semi-pelagian, merit based view of justification or salvation.

    Hope that makes sense too.

    Bradley

  6. Matt says:

    This is a great conversation! (I’m sorry that it’s been so long.) I’ve been recently thinking about how a true Thomist and a Calvinist would talk about the irresistibility of grace. I would agree with you entirely that the sort of grace that you are discussing–intrinsically efficacious grace–is infallible in bringing about its effect. And Dominican Thomists that I’ve read do quote Romans 9:19 in response to their Jesuit opponents, who make the positive response of free will a *condition* for the effectiveness of grace.

    I’ve also seen seventeenth-century Calvinists borrowing the concepts that allowed Thomists to reconcile the infallibility of God’s grace with the freedom of the will.

    But I’d love to learn more about Calvin himself. I know that he distanced himself from a necessity of coercion, but is that enough to be square with Thomas Aquinas?–though this obviously wasn’t his goal. One 20th century Thomist characterized Calvin in the following way:

    “This [the efficaciousness of God’s grace which not only determines the act itself but the mode of the act, that is, whether it is contingent or necessary] is the basis of the Thomistic distinctions, for example, between consequential necessity and logical necessity, or between the divided sense and the composite sense. According to Aristotle, there is consequential, but not consequent, necessity in a strict syllogism of which the major is necessary and the minor contingent. For instance, there is the example from Boetius: It is necessary that what I see should really exist. But I see Peter walking. Therefore it is necessary that Peter should be walking, although contingently and freely. Likewise it is necessary that whatever God wills absolutely should be done. But God wills absolutely that the conversion of Paul should take consequent necessity, Paul will be converted at that moment and his conversion will be free.

    In the same way, a man who is seated may stand up, in the divided sense, but not in the composite sense; that is, while seated he has a real power of standing, but he cannot sit and stand simultaneously. These two alternatives are both possible but not concurrently; cf. Ia IIae, q. 10, a. 4 ad 3. Calvin refers to the divided sense with another meaning; according to him, under the efficacious motion of God, the real power of doing the opposite does not remain, but once this motion has been removed, the power of the opposite appears again. The Jansenists hold the same opinion.”

    Is he being unfair? Does this add anything to the discussion? There is much more. But I tend to ramble on too much in blog posts. Thanks!

  7. Matt,

    Thanks for chiming in and offering your thoughts and that quotation from the 20th century anonymous theologian!

    As to your question: I don’t know. It would be a good research project to compare the various ways that Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin (and Jonathan Edwards for that matter) claimed that grace was infallible, yet did not involve coercion, which involves them in making distinctions between different notions of necessity. However, I’m not sure about this 20th century Thomist’s description.

    I have found that the only real way to knowing what these theologians taught is to study them for myself, for they are such domineering theological thinkers they tend to be appropriated in ways that give more credibility to peculiar theological agendas. In other words, I don’t really trust people to represent them accurately, and I prefer to hear them in their own words rather than to hear someone else trying to translate their thought, for so much gets lost in translation.

    Sorry I can’t really answer your question, even though it’s a very interesting one.

    And sorry it took me so long to answer your question (exam week coming up)!

    Pax,

    Bradley

  8. Matt says:

    Sorry, I should have said that it was Garrigou-Lagrange!

    I entirely, entirely agree about ad fontes. That would be a ton of fun. Good luck with exams.

  9. Give me the Cross and I will turn it Crown

  10. Awoleye Steve Olusola Adegbite says:

    What else can GRACE not; if it made blind to see and lost to be found as John Newton has said?

  11. Awoleye Steve Olusola Adegbite says:

    What else can GRACE not do; if it made blind to see and lost to be found as John Newton has said? Stay attach with the GRACE of God for it makes you to see even the invisible.

  12. Vincent says:

    Bradley do you think Roman Catholic Theology is man-centered and merit based? If so how does that differ from Aquinas who also had a merit based theology?

  13. Vincent says:

    Hey Bradley I just finished reading your Thomas Aquinas justification paper. Its very well done and researched but i have a few objections. You mention that Aquinas sees justification as an event not a process. You have to realize that he is only taking about initial justification and not the whole process for he did not distinguish between justification and sanctification like the later reformers did. According to Aquinas in initial justification we are instantly infused with justifying grace and made righteous and that all works done after initial justification are meritorious. Just wanted to point that out, but you did a good job with everything else especially when it came to the subject of merit.

  14. Vincent,

    First: thank you so much for reading through my research! :) I’m honored you took the time. I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

    I could agree entirely with your assessment, except I would want to say this: When Aquinas talks about justification proper (as a technicus terminus), he has in mind initial justification only and does not go out of his way (anywhere that I know of) to emphasize another “sense” of the word that would cover what Protestants would call “sanctification” (something that is progressive as opposed to instantaneous).

    Thus, when he answers the question whether justification is a process, he answers with a resounding “no,” and argues that it is instantaneous (see ST I-II.113.7). Thus, although it is true that when I talk about justification in this article I am using it in the sense of initial justification—that’s because my paper is on Aquinas’s doctrine of justification, and this is the way he uses the term. For Aquinas, viewing justification as a process would be a secondary sense of the term at best. In all my reading of Aquinas on this topic, I only recall him granting a broader meaning for the word justification once, and this was his typical diplomacy of granting that the term could be used in another way, even though that’s not the way he used it. He consistently uses the term to refer to what is known as initial justification. Inasmuch as the grace bestowed in justification continues to operate, sanctify, and progressively make one more and more “righteous,” Aquinas would of course agree there is also this aspect to the Christian life, he just didn’t use the term “justification” proper to refer to this dynamic. This does not mean, however, that we should read Reformation soteriology back into Aquinas as if he dichotomized justification and sanctification (he certainly does not, this was an innovation of the Reformers), but it does mean that his official use of the word was very narrow in a way that excludes the idea of justification being a “process” (again, please read ST I-II.113.7 if you haven’t already done so).

    I think everything I just said could be seen to be in agreement with your comment, but I just wanted to make clear Aquinas’s use of the term.

    Thanks for your kind appraisal of my research,

    Bradley

  15. Vincent says:

    Thanks for responding Bradley. So if what you say is true then modern Rome does not follow Aquinas on Justification, for modern Rome sees justification as an event and process something instantaneous and gradual something that includes both what Protestants call justification and sanctification.I have read somewhere, McGrath I think, which says that Rome inherited this view from St. Augustine and the medieval period including Aquinas also held this view and followed Augustine in this way of thinking. I would like to know what your thoughts are on this.

  16. Vincent says:

    Also what did Aquinas calls the aspect of the Christian life were we are made progressively more righteous? Did he like the reformers put this in the category of sanctification, because even though you say that he did not distinguish between sanctification and justification like the later reformers I really cannot see this not being the case. Also it seems that according to what I have read in your paper that Aquinas like the reformers taught that we are justified by a righteousness that belongs to God and is foreign to us though unlike the reformers he says that this alien righteousness is infused not imputed.

  17. Vincent says:

    McGrath also seems to say that Aquinas distinguished between the righteousness that belongs to God which formally justifies us and our own inherent righteousness which we accomplish in progressive justification.

  18. Vincent says:

    I hate to keep posting here but i found this article from McGrath which states that Trent followed Augustine in justification, “Whereas Augustine taught that the sinner is made righteous in justification, Melanchthon taught that he is counted as righteous or pronounced to be righteous. For Augustine, ‘justifying righteousness’ is imparted; for Melanchthon, it is imputed in the sense of being declared or pronounced to be righteous. Melanchthon drew a sharp distinction between the event of being declared righteous and the process of being made righteous, designating the former ‘justification’ and the latter ‘sanctification’ or regeneration.’ For Augustine, these were simply different aspects of the same thing… The importance of this development lies in the fact that it marks a complete break with the teaching of the church up to that point. From the time of Augustine onwards, justification had always been understood to refer to both the event of being declared righteous and the process of being made righteous. Melanchthon’s concept of forensic justification diverged radically from this. As it was taken up by virtually all the major reformers subsequently, it came to represent a standard difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic from then on…The Council of Trent…reaffirmed the views of Augustine on the nature of justification… the concept of forensic justification actually represents a development in Luther’s thought… Trent maintained the medieval tradition, stretching back to Augustine, which saw justification as comprising both an event and a process.. (Alister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 108-109, 115).” Note the last sentence of the quote.

  19. Vincent,

    Thanks for your inquisitiveness and insightful questions that show you are obviously doing research of your own. I very much enjoy this dialogue.

    Also what did Aquinas call the aspect of the Christian life were we are made progressively more righteous?

    Aquinas had a diverse way of describing sanctification, but the chief way he talked about it was under the rubric of “theological virtues” (Faith, Hope, and Charity). Sanctification is viewed as increase in the theological virtues, and he saw all other virtues as being constantly “reoriented” or “lifted” or “redirected” toward the theological ones (the one’s that come from grace and push us toward union with God). He also talked about it as progressive participation in God. He also talked about it as deification (borrowing Eastern terminology). He did also speak of “sanctifying grace,” but he didn’t have a sharp contrast between justification and this “sanctifying grace,” for justification was a sanctifying grace for Aquinas. If you define justification as being “made righteous” by grace, why should it be otherwise?

    Also it seems that according to what I have read in your paper that Aquinas like the reformers taught that we are justified by a righteousness that belongs to God and is foreign to us though unlike the reformers he says that this alien righteousness is infused not imputed.

    Yes. For Aquinas the source of justifying grace is extra nos, but its term or location is in nobis. For certain Reformers (like John Calvin) the source of justifying grace was extra nos, and its term or location also extra nos. In other words, it’s an alien righteousness for Aquinas, but it doesn’t stay alien, for in our justification it invades us and indwells us. For certain Reformers, justifying grace never invades or indwells, it only “declares.” Thus for these Reformers, it stays “alien.”

    So if what you say is true then modern Rome does not follow Aquinas on Justification, for modern Rome sees justification as an event and process…

    It is true that (Trent and) modern Rome doesn’t follow Aquinas’s more narrow restriction of the term “justification,” but they never denied Aquinas’s teaching on justification. Rather, they expanded it to also include what we Protestants would think of as progressive sanctification. When they did so, however, they retained the distinction in Aquinas’s theology by calling his doctrine of justification “initial justification” (as you have pointed out). Thus, while they developed the idea of progressive justification, this was an addition to the substance of what Aquinas taught, not a subtraction. Trent explicitly affirms that initial justification is not a response to or merited by any faith or good works, but is wholly gratuitous, but adds that by God’s grace this initial justifying grace continues to “increase” so that the justified sinner grows in faith, hope, and charity.

    :: The Council of Trent ::

    Having, therefore, been thus justified, and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day; that is, by mortifying the members of their own flesh, and by presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified, as it is written; He that is just, let him be justified still; and again, Be not afraid to be justified even to death; and also, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. And this increase of justification holy Church begs, when she prays, “Give unto us, O Lord, increase of faith, hope, and charity.”

    If “justification” is not merely a forensic imputation of a righteous “status” but refers to an ontological gift of a new heart set right, then it can most naturally be adapted to refer to what Protestants call “sanctification” because God’s grace never stops making the heart more and more holy and righteous. You will also notice the illusions to the apostle James in this section of the Council of Trent. I believe this distinction within Catholic theology (between initial justification and progressive justification) is also intended to better deal with the “problem” of James’ use of the word, in which justification by faith alone is explicitly denied (James 2:24). Whether we call sanctification “progressive justification” or just “sanctification,” neither necessarily undermines the substance of the teaching of Aquinas, since by distinguishing between “initial” and “progressive” justification, Aquinas’s teaching about an instantaneous grace that justifies is retained, even if his restrictive use of the term is not. This is merely a difference in terminology.

    The real difference between Protestant views and the rest of Christian views (both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) is in whether the term “justification” refers to merely a forensic declaration or to an ontological change of the heart by infused grace, and whether the Righteousness of God that justifies is located within us or whether it is “located” within the mind of God. All agree, however, that this Righteousness comes from outside of us (extra nos) and not simply worked up from inside of us (in nobis apart from God’s grace). Thus the location of the righteousness does not undermine the idea that the justifying righteousness is truly God’s righteousness.

    The other major difference can be seen when we ask “Why is it that faith justifies”? For Aquinas (and for at least the early Luther: http://theophilogue.com/2009/01/17/what-martin-luther-really-said-luthers-sola-fide/) it justifies because it “makes righteous”—–that is, because it causes one to naturally obey the Law (the law that is summed up by “Love your neighbor” according to Paul). It makes one obedient to God from the heart out of love for God, not externally only out of fear. For certain Reformers on the other hand, faith justifies because it is passive and contributes nothing to righteousness accept to accept the forensic declaration of God that we who are actually sinners are “counted” righteous in the mind of God. Thus in Reformation theology faith and obedience (or righteousness) are sharply and pedantically distinguished in a way that runs counter (in my opinion) to the biblical use of the word, as well as to how it is viewed in Catholic and Orthodox theology.

    There is a forensic element still within Catholic theology of justification (forgiveness of sins), but even Protestants agree that initial sanctification takes place simultaneously to justification, so that they are temporally indistinguishable. Thus, the irony: the two views are so close, the main difference in substance (not terminology) being the location of this righteousness and the reason why faith justifies.

    I hate to keep posting here but i found this article from McGrath which states that Trent followed Augustine in justification

    Post all you want. ;)

    McGrath is a great scholar and I respect his research, but I think he reads a medieval “progressive justification” too much back into Aquinas and Augustine. Augustine’s primary use of the term is the same as Aquinas’s, although I will allow that they both might have at times used the term more broadly. The latter uses of the term, however, were the exception, not the standard.

    You have great questions, and I am in no way burdened by them. I just hope you can understand that it takes me a while to find time to reply.

    Any thoughts?

    Bradley

  20. Vincent says:

    Thanks for getting back at me. I found this quote from Aquinas which i found interesting:
    .justification [properly so called] may be taken in two ways. First, according as man is made just by becoming possessed of the habit of justice; secondly, according as he does works of justice, so that in this sense justification is nothing else than the execution of justice. Now justice, like the other virtues, may denote either the acquired or the infused virtue….. The acquired virtue is caused by works; but the infused virtue [of the execution of justice] is caused by God Himself through His grace. The latter is true justice, of which we are speaking now, and in respect of which a man is said to be just before God, according to Rom. 4.2. (10)

    It seems to me that Aquinas is allowing justification here to be understood as initial (infused virtue) and progressive (acquired virtue). Also I disagree with you with the idea that before Trent progressive justification was the exception not the standard. I think McGrath, C. F. Henry, and Michael Horton and many many other church historians all agree that progressive justification was the norm from the time of Augustine to Trent. So McGrath is certainly not alone in his analysis. I also disagree that the idea of progressive justification was first developed at Trent, therefore implying that it was a novelty.

    I also was dicussing this issue with Bryan Cross and this is what he posted:
    “The movement toward justice from a state of no justice, or from a state of justice, is not a
    difference in end (i.e. terminus ad quem), and thus in species, but in terminus a quo, i.e. that from which. (For St. Thomas every movement takes its species from its terminus ad quem.) Thus since justification from a state of mortal sin is by the infusion of sanctifying grace and agape, and since for St. Thomas the infusion of sanctifying grace and agape is precisely what those already in a state of grace receive through the sacraments (see Summa Theologica III Q.62), and through good works done in a state of grace (see Summa Theologica I-II Q.114 a.8), this spiritual growth through the reception of the sacraments and through good works done in a state of grace can be understood even within St. Thomas’s theology as a kind of justification, namely, an increase in the supernatural justice already received. That he uses the term to refer to initial justification does not mean that his theology opposes understanding growth in grace as an increase in justification.

    In Protestant theology justification is by extra nos imputation, and sanctification is by a progressive inward work of the Holy Spirit making us more and more conformed to the image of Christ. In St. Thomas, by contrast, there is no essential difference between the movement by which we come into a state of grace, and the movement by which we grow in grace, because both are by the infusion of sanctifying grace and agape. For this reason, what Trent Sess. 6 Chap. 10, and Canons 24 and 32 say concerning the increase in justice/grace, is fully in keeping with St. Thomas’s theology.”

    I don’t know whether you agree or disagree with Byran’s assessment but it is worth noting. Also I have been meaning to ask you whether you have read Robert L. Reymond’s paper on John Gerstner and Thomas Aquinas? Also if Trent was adding to the substance of Aquinas teaching on justification that would imply distortion and corruption. If you were to add to the substance of something you are bound to distort its original meaning by going above and beyond what the original writer intended. Its important to keep in mind that the main reason why modern protestants consider Trent to teach a false gospel is because it defines justification to also mean sanctification and the lifelong growth of acquired holiness, therefore adding good works to the mix which puts Trent under the curse of Paul. I remember reading somewhere that had Rome followed Aquinas on justification the reformation would have never taken place. Not sure how accurate or true that statement is though. Anyways hope to hear from you soon and I much appreciate and enjoy your interaction with me.

  21. Vincent says:

    Here is another quote from a scholar on Aquinas and Trent its from David S. Schaff and can be found in Philp Schaffs History of the Christain Church:
    In the teachings of Thomas Aquinas we have, with one or two exceptions [the Protestant doctrine of justification not being one of them-RLR] the doctrinal tenets of the Latin Church in their
    perfect exposition as we have them in the Decrees of the Council of Trent in their final statement….. [T]he theology of the Angelic Doctor and the theology of the Roman Catholic Church are identical in all particulars except the immaculate conception. He who understands Thomas understands the mediaeval theology at its best and will be in possession of the doctrinal system of the Roman Church….. No distinction was made by the mediaeval theologians between the doctrine of justification and the doctrine of sanctification, such as is made by Protestant theologians. Justification was treated as a process of making the sinner righteous, and not as a judicial sentence by which he was declared to be righteous….. Although several of Paul�s statements in the Epistle to the Romans are quoted by Thomas Aquinas, neither he nor the other Schoolmen rise to the idea that it is upon the [condition] of faith that a man is justified. Faith is a virtue, not a justifying principle, and is treated at the side of hope and love. (6)

  22. Vincent says:

    I have been in Dialogue with Brian Davies. Have you heard of him? He is this Thomistic philosopher at Fordham University. I asked him about Trent and Aquinas and this is what he says to me:
    Since you are researching Trent (not something I know much about) I presume that you will be able to figure out whether or not Aquinas on justification and grace differs from what Trent
    teaches. I doubt that it does in any significant way. Trent has the Reformers in mind, so was nervous of the formula ‘faith not works’. Aquinas was not involved in that debate and, therefore, does not discuss it in the way that post Reformation thinkers did. But I think that he anticipates it when distinguishing between justification and sanctifying grace. Basically, he thinks that one can be justified and then drop dead. What, then to say, about the life of someone whose sins are forgiven but who then (by the grace of God) embarks on a long life of Christian virtue? Here is where Aquinas’s account of living under the New Law comes in. And here too is where his notion of sanctifying grace comes in. Also, note, that Aquinas is not into the ‘imputed righteousness’ notion of Luther. He thinks of forgiveness as God’s doing when it comes to (by God’s doing) our doing in embracing the Christian gospel. Aquinas often says that the action of the agent is in the patient. He means, for example, that I only manage to teach you as you come to learn by virtue of me. By the same token, he thinks of God causing us to be justified to depend on us turning to God in Christ and repenting of our sins while accepting the redemption brought about by God in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (this is the drift of 1a2a,109 and following in the ST).”
    I think this sounds pretty similar tow hat you have said. Glad to hear your thoughts on these quotes.

  23. Vincent,

    Thanks again for your interaction. This dialogue is extremely important (and enjoyable) and I appreciate that you are doing research of your own in this area and thinking through these issues with others. I’m honored to be a part of that.

    It seems to me that Aquinas is allowing justification here to be understood as initial (infused virtue) and progressive (acquired virtue).

    Ah yes! But which does he say carries the meaning of the biblical idea of justification “of which a man is said to be just before God” and on which he bases his dogma of justification in the Summa? (Why do I get the feeling you haven’t read all the way through Aquinas’s specific treatment of justification in the Summa?) If you have read much of Aquinas, you know he likes to first talk about all the different ways a word or phrase can be taken (much like philosophers do today) since how one takes the meaning of the word will determine how they answer questions about it. But his linguistic generosity and awareness should not be misconstrued as though he gave equal weight to all allowed meanings. Even here in your quote he clearly favors what he considers the biblical meaning of St. Paul in which one is justified by infused grace. This, he says is true justice.

    If we want a responsible interpretation of how Aquinas used the term justification, we must account for his explicit denials in the Summa of its having a progressive meaning, and his explicit and repeated affirmations of its instantaneous character. His explicit answering of the question of whether justification is instantaneous or progressive is, in this respect, the most convenient section of all of his writings for answering our question, and must attain the greatest weight in our assessment. This is why it’s so important, when asking “What did Aquinas think about justification?” to place the most weight of one’s interpretation of Aquinas on the section where he specifically answers this question while actually defining and explicating the doctrine directly in the Summa. Prooftexting some place where he talks about how the term can be used in other ways is very misleading on this point if you haven’t read (or aren’t giving due weight to) his full treatment of justification in the Summa.

    Also I disagree with you with the idea that before Trent progressive justification was the exception not the standard. I think McGrath, C. F. Henry, and Michael Horton and many many other church historians all agree … I also disagree that the idea of progressive justification was first developed at Trent, therefore implying that it was a novelty.

    You are not disagreeing with me here. I never said before Trent progressive justification was the exception for all theologians (especially medieval theologians) or that it is a novelty of Trent. Rather, my claim is limited to two key players. For Augustine and Aquinas, their dogma of justification implies or explicitly affirms in the most important passages where they deal with the doctrine directly that justification is instantaneous. If they recognize that the grace that justifies instantaneously is the same grace that continues to make more righteous progressively, and thus at times also use the term in a “progressive” sense, their primary understanding of Paul’s use of the term is not thus changed. This is a question of the primary sense in which Augustine and Aquinas understood St. Paul’s doctrine of justification. As can be seen even in the text you quoted from Aquinas, he (and I would argue Augustine) understood Paul to refer to an instantaneously infused grace, and other meanings he explores are secondary.

    You could just read through Aquinas’s explicit treatment of justification in the Summa, and count how many times he uses the term in its progressive sense vs. how many times he uses it in the instantaneous sense. Write up a tally. Here it will be seen that the progressive sense takes a back seat to the point of being denied in article 7 of question 113. Again, that doesn’t mean that Aquinas doesn’t also use the term in a progressive sense elsewhere, but when he is explicating Paul’s meaning of the justification of the ungodly, he does not have in mind progressive justification.

    I also was discussing this issue with Bryan Cross and this is what he posted: “…spiritual growth through the reception of the sacraments and through good works done in a state of grace can be understood even within St. Thomas’s theology as a kind of justification… That he uses the term to refer to initial justification does not mean that his theology opposes understanding growth in grace as an increase in justification.

    Yes. As I mentioned, once you define justification as “being made righteous,” any teaching on sanctification could be considered a kind of justification. I also agree with Bryan that the substance of Aquinas’s doctrine of justification is not undermined by a broader use of the word to include any “being made righteous,” whether it’s the instantaneous initial infusion of grace, or any subsequent infusion that “makes [more] righteous,” but I will continue to emphasize that this latter use is not Aquinas’s main use of the term, for reasons I have already given. So I would say Trent is “in keeping” with the substance of Aquinas’s doctrine of justification, even if not “in keeping” with the way Aquinas strategically restricted the term when interpreting Paul’s sense of the “justification of the ungodly.”

    I have been meaning to ask you whether you have read Robert L. Reymond’s paper on John Gerstner and Thomas Aquinas?

    Yes. I actually argue against him in my article you read (but you wouldn’t know unless you read the footnotes—read footnote #7 here: http://theophilogue.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/justification-in-aquinas_1xxx_.pdf)

    If you were to add to the substance of something you are bound to distort its original meaning by going above and beyond what the original writer intended. which puts Trent under the curse of Paul.

    I disagree here. By no means do I think Trent is under the curse of Paul. If Paul’s doctrine of justification is forensic like most Protestants say it is, and imputation of the active and passive obedience of Jesus is “the gospel,” then the entire pre-Reformation church is under Paul’s curse, and I don’t think that’s a tenable position. On this point, see Matthew Heckle’s outstanding article that helped me change the way I thought about this (http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/47/47-1/47-1-pp089-120_JETS.pdf).

    I remember reading somewhere that had Rome followed Aquinas on justification the reformation would have never taken place. Not sure how accurate or true that statement is though.

    Some have said this (I quote them in my article on Aquinas that you read). I don’t think it was Rome’s following of Aquinas that got her into trouble, but her corruption (for example, the buying of bishoprics by rich people just to use the church to get money from the common people without ever doing any pastoral ministry in their diocese, the crude marketing programs for the selling of indulgences, the heavy tax burdens the Church put on the Germans to pay for expensively adorned cathedrals while the common German lived in poverty, etc.). In addition to this, I also believe that humanism had a lot to do with the Reformation. Perahps we are oversimplifying the causes for the Reformation if we assume that the rebellion (and it was a rebellion) was fueled only by these narrow theological concerns, which, I think were more like the doctrinal expression of the rebellion.

    That being said, once the Reformation took its stand, it was an overreaction that went, as Gerald Hiestand’s book title (now out of print) said, “too far in the right direction” by going beyond anything the Church had ever taught (even eventually realizing they were teaching something different than their most beloved St. Augustine) (see:http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1509561?uid=3739680&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101438723783). Affirming Aquinas’s and Augustine’s grace-centered soteriology can go a long way (as the Ecumenical discussions have shown), but only once the social and political tensions (along with the widespread moral corruption of the Church and her leaders) leading up to the Reformation era have been removed. And even then significant portions of Protestants (represented by the leadership of individuals like R.C. Sproul, John McArthur, D.A. Carson, Mark Seifrid, James White, etc.) are still protesting (for reasons I mention below).

    Its important to keep in mind that the main reason why modern protestants consider Trent to teach a false gospel is because it defines justification to also mean sanctification and the lifelong growth of acquired holiness, therefore adding good works to the mix.

    The Reformers were concerned about the basis of our salvation before God—specifically concerned with removing any contribution from the human person. Exalting “justification” to an unprecedented place in soteriology and wanting our salvation (and doctrine of salvation) to be based only on an alien righteousness, they strategically stripped justification of all possible interpretations that implied any contribution from the person—–even faith. Thus, even faith was argued to justify not because it became the grounds of a sinner’s justification, but because it was the coincidental instrumental means of gaining the true grounds: the Righteousness of God, which was interpreted as the active and passive obedience/righteousness of Jesus. This is why “works” can’t be “thrown in the mix” here. In this sense, even “faith” can’t be “thrown into the mix,” only the alien righteousness of Jesus (active and passive obedience). In this schema, faith does not even “count” as righteousness before God; only the active and passive obedience of Jesus counts as righteousness before God.

    The reason this is important to our discussion is this: even if we take away the “progressive” sense of justification in Trent, there remains an essential stumbling block for the Reformers since “justification” is still grounded in a righteousness that dwells within the human person, even if it is infused within totally by grace. The whole point of the Reformer’s doctrine of imputation was to get the ground of our salvation outside of ourselves. This is why it’s not enough that the Joint Declaration (which you must buy and read if you haven’t already done so: http://www.amazon.com/Declaration-Doctrine-Justification-Lutheran-Federation/dp/0802847749/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355321037&sr=8-1&keywords=joint+declaration+on+the+doctrine+of+justification) or the ECT documents (http://www.leaderu.com/ect/ectmenu.html) say “justification is by faith through grace” or even “by faith alone through grace alone” for this doesn’t settle the question of whether faith is thereby the grounds of our justification or the instrumental means that attain yet another ground which is completely outside of us (extra nos) in the divine ledger.

    Justification by grace alone through faith alone = God grants us faith by the infusion of grace, which changes the heart and makes it obedient to God, therefore God sees us as “righteous” because he has actually “made” us righteous to the core of our hearts by the infusion of grace (although not perfect).

    Justification by grace alone through faith alone = God grants us faith as a gift which causes us to receive Jesus’ righteous “record” on God’s ledger as our own so that God can “declare” us (who are really sinners) righteous.

    In both scenario’s justification is by grace alone through faith alone in difference senses, but each view is radically different. This is why even if we take “progressive justification” out of the question, we still have an essential difference. I just don’t think (like the Reformers assumed) that the location of justifying grace (whether it indwells us or is outside of us on a divine ledger) has to undermine it’s gratuitous and grace-centered structure, which is what the Reformer’s were ultimately concerned to protect. Also, so long as faith is a grace-wrought gift, I don’t see Aquinas’s (or Augustine’s or the Catholic) view of justification as undermining the essential concern of the Reformers, who were paranoid that anything less than an extreme denial of any human contribution would inevitably devolve into a soteriology that didn’t give full credit to grace. I don’t think human contribution and grace are at odds in this way, for I believe that all of the Christian life is by grace, including our works. Thus, so long as our human contribution (whether faith, a free-will choice, works, etc.) is seen as being done only by the power of grace the rest of the details are less important to me, and the spirit of the Reformation sola gratia is retained. I agree with J.I. Packer that the Reformers saw imputation or sola fide as a safeguard for sola gratia, and that’s why it meant so much to them.

    I have been in Dialogue with Brian Davies. Have you heard of him?

    Yes! I have referenced and photocopied many chapters of his works on Aquinas for my research. He has made a wonderful contribution.

    :: Brian Davies ::

    …note, that Aquinas is not into the ‘imputed righteousness’ notion of Luther. He thinks of forgiveness as God’s doing when it comes to (by God’s doing) our doing in embracing the Christian gospel. Aquinas often says that the action of the agent is in the patient.

    Yes. Aquinas’s doctrine is not the same as the Reformation imputation (as I have been trying to point out). Whereas for the Reformers the chief act of the agent (God) in justification was outside of the patient (in a divine ledger in Gods mind), for Aquinas, justifying righteousness is worked within us, and agency of the Holy Spirit is worked within us to “make us righteous,” thus the act of the agent in justification (God) is in the patient (sinner who is “made righteous” by grace).

    :: David S. Schaff ::

    Faith is a virtue, not a justifying principle, and is treated at the side of hope and love. (6)

    I actually argue against this quote in my paper (again, in the footnotes), so I disagree (see footnote #53 here: http://theophilogue.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/justification-in-aquinas_1xxx_.pdf).

    If you have any further thoughts, feel free to respond. The topic is important, and I hope you follow up on some of the sources I linked.

    Pax,

    Bradley

  24. Vincent says:

    Thanks for responding again Bradley. I have read Aquinas take on justification and yes for him its an event not a process, but he is talking strictly about that transfer from ungodly to godly and fellowship with God. The point I am trying to make is that this is not necessarily a problem for Trent because Trent also taught justification to be instantaneous and an event. At baptism we are instantly justified with sanctifying grace. But unlike Aquinas Trent also said justification includes sanctification and moral renewal. You seem to be saying that since Aquinas taught justification to mean to make righteous not declare righteous, then it is not a problem if we call lifelong sanctification justification as well because in sanctification we are still being made righteous. Did I understand you right? You said that you disagree that Thomas thought of faith as a virtue, but it is clear to me that he did not think of faith as merely trust and confidence like the reformers did. For Aquinas, faith is one of the three theological virtues along with hope and love. I know that Trent understood faith to be a virtue and did not imply that it also means trust or confidence, in fact it actually condemns this view.
    I am not sure how familiar you are with modern anti-catholic apologetic, but believe me many protestants are constantly on Trent’s case for it defining justification to mean moral renewal and sanctification. But many of them overlook the fact that for Trent justification is also an event. Also if what you say about Augustine and Aquinas is true then their teaching was at odds with the majority consensus of their day. The progressive concept of justification must have its source somewhere.

  25. Vincent says:

    Justification by grace alone through faith alone = God grants us faith by the infusion of grace, which changes the heart and makes it obedient to God, therefore God sees us as “righteous” because he has actually “made” us righteous to the core of our hearts by the infusion of grace (although not perfect).
    This is Aquinas’s view of justification right? So it safe to say for him St. Paul’s meaning of the word is that we are made righteous instantly by infused grace. So even though like the reformers he sees justification as an event he still disagree with them that it means to make righteous.

  26. Vincent says:

    I disagree here. By no means do I think Trent is under the curse of Paul. If Paul’s doctrine of justification is forensic like most Protestants say it is, and imputation of the active and passive obedience of Jesus is “the gospel,” then the entire pre-Reformation church is under Paul’s
    curse, and I don’t think that’s a tenable position.
    Would you at least be open to the possibility that Trent is under Paul’s curse because it refers to justification to be more than just an event? My opinion is that in scripture justification has both past, present and future implications and refers not just to the beginning of the christian life but to its entire existence including the final judgment to come.

  27. This is not necessarily a problem for Trent because Trent also taught justification to be instantaneous and an event. … Trent also said justification includes sanctification and moral renewal. … many protestants are constantly on Trent’s case for it defining justification to mean moral renewal and sanctification.

    Your point is well taken. Yes, I am familiar with the polemical rhetoric of the apologists, and you are right. SIDE NOTE: Once I gave a presentation for a class on Augustine’s view of justification. After the lecture someone said: “So didn’t Augustine basically confuse justification and sanctification?” There was a stirring in the room suddenly when I replied something like: “Only if you first assume your own categories are right and unquestionable. Augustine would say you’ve reduced justification to forgiveness of sin and stripped it of it’s ontological renewal. If justification means “make righteous” then his identification of it with the first step in sanctification (the granting of a new heart) is not a confusion but a reasonably logical conclusion.”

    Why do Protestants care so much whether sanctification is included in a broader use of the word justification, especially since the “progressive” meaning is explicitly distinguished from what happens in justification instantly? Again—it is because they want to remove all human contribution of righteousness from the ultimate grounds of our salvation, and so long as justification includes a sanctifying process, it includes man’s “works.” So long as it includes man’s works, they say, it cannot be based on grace alone because it cannot be based on the imputed active and passive obedience of Jesus on the divine ledger. The logic goes like this:

    1. Justification is the ultimate ground of our salvation.
    2. Paul teaches justification is by faith and not works, and this seems to be the distinguishing mark of saving grace in the gospel.
    3. Paul teaches the grounds of our salvation (justifying righteousness) is the righteousness of God.
    4. The contrast between faith and works must really be intended by Paul to rule out any human contribution as the grounds of salvation (righteousness is God’s, not ours).
    5. Paul teaches the righteousness of God (justifying righteousness) is the active and passive obedience of Jesus.
    6. Therefore, we not only cannot allow “works” to be a part of justification or else we pervert the gospel, but Paul intends to rule out “faith” as counting for this righteousness also (faith is something we do).
    7. Therefore, justifying righteousness cannot be either our faith or our works, but something outside of us (the active and passive obedience of Jesus).
    8. This distinction (in #7) is the distinguishing mark of true grace in the gospel.
    9. Therefore, to miss this teaching (in #7) is to miss the gospel.
    10. Therefore, Roman Catholics have not only missed the gospel, but placed themselves under Paul’s curse by their condemnation of Reformation soteriology.

    Here we are back to the real issue: is the ROG (righteousness of God) granted to us in justification extra nos or in nobis? Is it the active and passive obedience or is it the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit? Does faith justify because it makes righteous or because it is the pre-requisite for God’s allowing Jesus’ righteous record to be counted as our own on the divine ledger?

    There are many problems with this logic (#1 – #10 above), such as 1) is justification really the only biblical imagery for understanding the ground of our salvation? 2) James teaches justification is not by faith alone, but by works (and regardless of how one interprets that, this is a linguistic contradiction to the Reformation dogma), 3) Paul also teaches of a righteousness of God that is worked within us by the Holy Spirit, 4) this does not necessarily follow, 5) Paul nowhere explicitly teaches this (and yes, I’ve read the books of Protestants trying to make a case for this, but it’s not there in my opinion), 6) this is now directly contradicting what Paul actually says: in Paul, it is faith that counts as righteousness, not the active and passive obedience of Christ, 7) this proposition is based on the faulty assumptions and exegesis that has gone before it, 8) now this faulty interpretation is hoisted back onto the notion of “gospel,” 9) now this faulty notion is used to judge whether the faith of others is “true” faith in the gospel, 10) now this faulty view is used to condemn faithful Roman Catholics who have a different interpretation, but implies that the entire pre-Reformation church “missed” the gospel (which is untenable).

    In my opinion, viewing justifying righteousness (ROG) as in nobis does not rule out a thoroughly sola gratia soteriology (there is more than one way to construct a thoroughly grace-centered soteriology). If the righteousness in initial justification is granted in nobis, and all the righteousness that comes from this spring that leads one to do good works of any kind is also done only by the power of this grace, such that our salvation does not depend ultimately on us but on God’s grace, I see no reason why we should uncharitably calls this view (which Augustine and Aquinas held and was basically adapted into Catholic dogma) “works righteousness,” a category that is always contrasted with “grace,” and implies the absence of the latter and therefore a perversion of the gospel.

    Since Aquinas taught justification to mean to make righteous not declare righteous, then it is not a problem if we call lifelong sanctification justification as well because in sanctification we are still being made righteous.

    It’s only a problem if you buy into the logic of #1 – #10 above, which I don’t.

    Also, remember: biblical theologians have already pointed out that often the way terms have been defined in systematic theologies (both Catholic and Protestant) have grossly oversimplified the biblical usage of the terms, which are sometimes more diverse and the words are often used in very different ways. For example, sanctification is sometimes used in the Bible to refer to something that is instantaneous and happens at the beginning of one’s conversion (e.g. Mark Siefrid points this out, for example). Justification is used by James to refer to something that takes place after one has come to faith. Thus, we need not bother ourselves with trying to “stick to the way the Bible uses words” legalistically or else both Catholics and Protestants would have to start all over from scratch (and this attempt would miserably fail). Nobody does that. Protestants condemn offhand any Jamsean way of putting the doctrine of justification because they (oddly enough) allow Paul’s usage to be the only acceptable usage. They merely “tolerate” James’ way of using the term because they have to (James is in the canon). Protestant theology doesn’t incorporate James’ use of the term justification. Protestant exegesis of James goes out of its way to posture itself on the defense, always trying to explain what James “really” means: that one’s faith has to prove itself through works. The problem is: James uses the language of justification to make this point, and he doesn’t just say “only living faith justifies” or “one’s faith must be proven by good works”–he actually says that one’s works “justify.” What I’m trying to say is this: I think too many theologians are too uptight about their theologies and how words are defined. There is a lack of humility and eagerness to defend their tradition and condemn the other. (sorry that was such a long answer to your question! LoL!)

    This is Aquinas’s view of justification right? So it safe to say for him St. Paul’s meaning of the word is that we are made righteous instantly by infused grace. So even though like the reformers he sees justification as an event he still disagrees with them that it means to make righteous.

    Yes. Also he disagrees with them about why it is that faith justifies. For Aquinas it’s because it makes the heart gladly obedient to the spirit of the Law, for the Reformers it justifies because it receives Jesus’ righteous “record” on the divine ledger.

    Would you at least be open to the possibility that Trent is under Paul’s curse because it refers to justification to be more than just an event?

    Me personally? Never. I find it grievous and unfortunate that many Protestants view it this way and thereby write off Catholics as apostates.

    My opinion is that in scripture justification has both past, present and future implications and refers not just to the beginning of the christian life but to its entire existence including the final judgment to come.

    If you tallied up the different uses of justification in the Bible you could easily make this case. But just remember: there is a huge gap between the way words are used in the Bible, and the meaning they have attained in systematic theologies. Thus, one who wants to “stick” to the biblical usages of the word will have a hard time “translating” these meanings into traditional systematic theologies where they have attained a technical meaning narrowly defined. It would be a big challenge!

    The progressive concept of justification must have its source somewhere.

    Indeed it must. But at what point did the progressive sense come to acquire the primary sense of the word? For we are not only talking here about the origins of a concept, but about the dominance of a concept. I think most will say the progressive sense began to dominate during the medieval period, but I will leave that question up to those who have managed to study the developments of the concept, but even then always with a suspicious caution since so much rides on the question and much prejudice is exercised even by those supposedly restrained by methodology. I definitely think McGrath’s analysis is (although very helpful in many ways) also bias and flawed at some points (in the ways I pointed out in my article), but if I recall from my reading he attributes this transition to viewing justification as a process to begin dominating during the medieval period also.

    Any thoughts?

    Bradley

  28. Vincent says:

    “Here we are back to the real issue: is the ROG (righteousness of God) granted to us in justification extra nos or in nobis? Is it the active and passive obedience or is it the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit? Does faith justify because it makes righteous or because it is the
    pre-requisite for God’s allowing Jesus’ righteous record to be counted as our own on the divine ledger?”

    But does this really change the issue of whether justification is an event or process. Here is how Jimmy Akin define justification from the catholic perspective:

    “Here we are back to the real issue: is the ROG (righteousness of God) granted to us in justification extra nos or in nobis? Is it the active and passive obedience or is it the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit? Does faith justify because it makes righteous or because it is the pre-requisite for God’s allowing Jesus’ righteous record to be counted as our own on the divine ledger? ”

    I would agree with most of what Jimmy has said here, however I would qualify that justification is also an event in Catholicism. In baptism we are instantly infused with sanctifying grace and instantly justified, like Aquinas says. This is the event part. Then comes the progressive part were we preserve and increase in the righteousness which we have received. So there is no either or in justification in Catholicism.

    “I definitely think McGrath’s analysis is (although very helpful in many ways) also bias and flawed at some points (in the ways I pointed out in my article), but if I recall from my reading he
    attributes this transition to viewing justification as a process to begin dominating during the medieval period also.”

    You are absolutely correct that we should always be aware of any lurking bias that may exist with any church historian. But with McGrath (who is a protestant) there is no reason for him to be biased towards the progressive view, as a matter of fact it would be detrimental towards his protestant view of justification.

    “Me personally? Never. I find it grievous and unfortunate that many Protestants view it this way and thereby write off Catholics as apostates.”

    So its your position that as long as justification is understood to mean to make righteous it does not undermine the substance of Aquinas if it is used in a more broader sense. Am I correct?

  29. Vincent says:

    Hey Bradley I found the following from John MacArthur page, tell me what you think:
    How Justification and Sanctification Differ
    Justification is distinct from sanctification because in justification God does not make the sinner righteous; He declares that person righteous (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16). Notice
    how justification and sanctification are distinct from one another:

    – Justification imputes Christ’s righteousness to the sinner’s account (Romans 4:11b); sanctification imparts righteousness to the sinner personally and practically (Romans 6:1-7; 8:11-14)
    – Justification takes place outside sinners and changes their standing (Romans 5:1-2), sanctification is internal and changes the believer’s state (Romans 6:19).
    – Justification is an event, sanctification a process.

    Those two must be distinguished but can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify, and He does not sanctify whom He does not justify. Both are essential elements of salvation.

    Why differentiate between them at all? If justification and sanctification are so closely related that you can’t have one without the other, why bother to define them differently? That question was the central issue between Rome and the Reformers in the sixteenth century, and it remains the main front in renewed attacks against justification.

    Justification in Roman Catholic Doctrine
    Roman Catholicism blends its doctrines of sanctification and justification. Catholic theology views justification as an infusion of grace that makes the sinner righteous. In Catholic theology, then, the ground of justification is something made good within the sinner — not the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    The Council of Trent, Rome’s response to the Reformation, pronounced anathema on anyone who says “that the [sinner] is justified by faith alone — if this means that nothing else is required by way of cooperation in the acquisition of the grace of justification.” The Catholic council ruled “Justification…is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just.” So Catholic theology confuses the concepts of justification and sanctification and substitutes the righteousness of the believer for the righteousness of Christ.

    What’s the Big Deal?
    The difference between Rome and the Reformers is no example of theological hair-splitting. The corruption of the doctrine of justification results in several other grievous theological errors.

    If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can’t be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner’s own continuing present virtue, not Christ’s perfect righteousness and His atoning work.

    What’s so important about the doctrine of justification by faith alone? It is the doctrine upon which the confessing church stands or falls. Without it there is no salvation, no sanctification, no glorification — nothing. You wouldn’t know it to look at the state of Christianity today, but it really is that important.

  30. Vincent says:

    Here is another piece from a protestant apologist:
    Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is reckoned to the sinner so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law (Rom. 4:3; 5:1,9; Gal. 2:16;
    3:11). This righteousness is not earned or retained by any effort of the saved. Justification is an instantaneous occurrence with the result being eternal life. It is based completely and solely upon Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24) and is received by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9). No works are necessary whatsoever to obtain justification. Otherwise, it is not a gift (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1).

    Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ. This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person. But it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified (Phil. 2:13). Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone. The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly (Gal. 5:22-23). Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification. That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.

    Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process. Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible. In other words, we contribute to sanctification through our efforts. In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts.

    One thing I have to ask you since Aquinas understood Justification to be a one time event did he understood it to be a legal declaration where one is declared just?

  31. Vincent says:

    Here is another exchange I did with Bryan on Aquinas this is what he told me:
    When St. Thomas says “hence the justification of the ungodly is not successive, but instantaneous,” he is referring to the justification of the “ungodly.” He is not referring to the
    increase in justice by those already in a state of grace. Using the term ‘justification’ to refer to initial justification (or justification-as-translation) does not exclude the term from being used to refer to the process of growing in the justice received, for the reason I explained in #113. So there is no conflict here between St. Thomas and Trent.

  32. Vincent,

    You accidentally quoted me instead of Jimmy Akin. LoL! Could you please provide the actual quotation?

    But with McGrath (who is a protestant) there is no reason for him to be biased towards the progressive view, as a matter of fact it would be detrimental towards his protestant view of justification.

    I think it’s naïve to say he doesn’t have any reason to be bias. People always have reason to be bias. He has to find some way to make the theological protests of the Reformation seem viable. If he can show that medieval theology strayed from seeing justification as an instantaneous event, and began to shift the dogma in another direction towards seeing it as a process, this makes the Reformation seem more reasonable. He has every reason to be bias toward the progressive view—he is a Protestant! Why would it be detrimental to his protestant view to be bias against the progressive view? I’m not sure of your reasoning here.

    :: John McArthur ::

    If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can’t be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner’s own continuing present virtue, not Christ’s perfect righteousness and His atoning work.

    Protestants like McArthur teach that the only way to know whether you truly have saving faith is to look at your life and your “fruit” (the fruit of sanctification) to see if you have truly been changed and transformed into someone who obeys God (see McArthur’s excellent book The Gospel According to Jesus). Therefore, all this harping about how Rome doesn’t have assurance of salvation and how her doctrine forces the Christian to base his confidence on his own good works is, to me, hypocritical. The reason is this: in McArthur’s soteriology, to know for sure if one has saving faith she must also look to her own sanctification to see if she has “fruit” (the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which include all the dynamics of obedience and sanctification). Thus, even McArthur’s own soteriology will never get away from the kind of subjectivism McArthur fears in the Catholic dogma of justification. What McArthurs so greatly fears in his Catholic opponents, he retains comfortably within his own theology: a subjective basis for assurance of salvation based on one’s own sanctification and righteousness within. The only way out of it is universalism where salvation has absolutely no pre-requisite except being human.

    :: Unnamed Apologist ::

    But it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified. … Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification. That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.

    This apologist understands that sanctification is also by God’s grace, even if the receiver of the grace is not passive. That’s important, for what it implies is this: even if justification is viewed as sanctification in Catholicism (on Protestant terms) this does not displace grace as the key root and sole source of salvation anymore than it does this in sanctification. Even Paul, when working harder than all the other apostles, says “Nevertheless it’s not me who is working, but the grace of God within me” (cf. I Cor 15:10 with Gal 2:20). Who says that if our salvation is based on something we do, that it therefore has to no longer be based on grace? Or who says that if salvation cannot be based on what we do, that what God does cannot also include something we do (as it does here in Paul’s theology where what we do and what God does by grace become inseparable and the same?).

    The second part of this quotation, however, troubles me. The Protestant traditions I know best would say that if you aren’t living a sanctified life, you have good reason to call into question your salvation and ask “Do I really have true saving faith?” Thus, sanctification absolutely does have a bearing on justification in the experience of the believer, regardless of how well Protestants try to keep them apart in theory.

    Furthermore, who ever said to be justified before God one had to be perfect in the sense of “sinless”? Does the Bible say this anywhere? I have never read it. Where does this idea come from? It comes from Protestant assumptions about the justice of God foreign to their own authority: the Bible.

    :: Unnamed Apologist ::

    In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts.

    Here is the ultimate Protestant concern: that we don’t contribute anything to the ultimate grounds of our salvation.

    …did he understood it to be a legal declaration where one is declared just?

    No. It might have had forensic implications (forgiveness of sins, God considering one just now that they have been renewed by grace from the heart, etc.), but these were not at the core of the meaning of justification, which, as I have emphasized, meant “to make righteous” for Aquinas, Augustine, and the pre-Reformation church, not “to declare righteous.”

    :: Bryan Cross ::

    When St. Thomas says “hence the justification of the ungodly is not successive, but instantaneous,” he is referring to the justification of the “ungodly.”

    Yes. I agree completely with this quotation from Bryan. But “initial justification” is Aquinas’s main use of the term dogmatically, which is important to recognize. Nevertheless, I believe Trent basically followed Aquinas’s doctrine of justification, but added that this same grace also sanctifies. And if we are thinking of justifying grace as the grace of renewal and inner transformation, Trent is perfectly right: that same grace that renews our hearts continues to push us onward to spiritual maturity and deeper fellowship with God.

    Thoughts? (Can you also kindly provide the real quote from Jimmy Akin and your sources for these unnamed apologists?)

    Bradley

  33. Vincent says:

    I think it’s naïve to say he doesn’t have any reason to be bias. People always have reason to be bias. He has to find some way to make the theological protests of the Reformation seem viable. If he can show that medieval theology strayed from seeing justification as an instantaneous event,
    and began to shift the dogma in another direction towards seeing it as a process, this makes the Reformation seem more reasonable. He has every reason to be bias toward the progressive view—he is a Protestant! Why would it be detrimental to his protestant view to be bias against the progressive view? I’m not sure of your reasoning here.

    My point is that if the medieval theologians understood justification to be instantaneous than that proves that the reformers followed in their footsteps and that it was Trent that departed from the medieval teaching. So this would make the reformation a legitimate Christian movement and Trent being the one that introduced the novelty. But if McGrath shows that the progressive understanding of justification was the norm before the reformation then this will show that the reformation introduced the unjustified novelty, thus destroying the claims that it had any continuation with apostolic teaching. Also is it your opinion that had the medieval teaching actually understood justification to be a process then the reformation would have been justified? What if the medieval teaching included the instantaneous part but like Trent went further and also made it a process equivalent to sanctification, would then the reformation have been justified?

    Here is the actual quote from Akin:
    So the Catholic Church, like the Bible and like some Protestants, teaches that justification is a process. It is something that begins when we first become a Christian, which continues in our life, and which will be completed when we stand before God at the end of our life and on the last day.

    I would agree with most of this but like I said Justification is also an instantaneous event in Catholicism, so I think Akin oversimplifies the issue if he refers to it solely as a process, which is also catholic teaching. The name of that unnamed protestant apologist is Matt Slick by the way.

    Protestants like McArthur teach that the only way to know whether you truly have saving faith is to look at your life and your “fruit” (the fruit of sanctification) to see if you have truly been
    changed and transformed into someone who obeys God (see McArthur’s excellent book The Gospel According to Jesus). Therefore, all this harping about how Rome doesn’t have assurance of salvation and how her doctrine forces the Christian to base his confidence on his own good works is, to me, hypocritical. The reason is this: in McArthur’s soteriology, to know for sure if one has saving faith she must also look to her own sanctification to see if she has “fruit” (the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which include all the dynamics of obedience and sanctification). Thus, even McArthur’s own soteriology will never get away from the kind of subjectivism McArthur fears in the Catholic dogma of justification. What McArthurs so greatly fears in his Catholic opponents, he retains comfortably within his own theology: a subjective basis for assurance of salvation based on one’s own sanctification and righteousness within. The only way out of it is universalism where salvation has absolutely no pre-requisite except being human.

    If this is true than why is MacArthur and his ilk so bent on portraying Rome as teaching a false man-centered peligian gospel? Maybe he does not realize how close his and Rome’s soteriology really are. My theory is that its the merit part that scares him the most. He thinks that when Catholics say they are meriting he takes it to mean like they are earning their place before God and putting him in debt to them, of course this is incorrect but he probably misunderstands it.

    Yes. I agree completely with this quotation from Bryan. But “initial justification” is Aquinas’s main use of the term dogmatically, which is important to recognize. Nevertheless, I believe Trent basically followed Aquinas’s doctrine of justification, but added that this same grace also sanctifies. And if we are thinking of justifying grace as the grace of renewal and inner transformation, Trent is perfectly right: that same grace that renews our hearts continues to push us onward to spiritual maturity and deeper fellowship with God.

    So is it your opinion that Trent did not distort and undermine Aquinas and the bible’s doctrine of justification by going further and including sanctification under it? You imply that since Aquinas understood justification to mean to make righteous instead of a declaration then it does not undermine or contradict his teaching to say like Trent did that justification is also gradual and a life-long process. If this is true then it is similar to Byran’s analysis that for Aquinas there is no real difference between coming into grace and growing in grace since they are both by infusion. Hope to hear from you soon.

  34. … if the medieval theologians understood justification to be instantaneous than that proves that the reformers followed in their footsteps

    That’s not how I read McGrath’s intentions. I’ve actually never heard any Protestant historian claim that the Reformers stuck to medieval theology. They all argue that the Reformers protested most of the medieval developments. Luther railed against the medievals, for example, and he and the Reformers tried to justify the Reformation by arguing that their theology was closer to what came before the medieval period.

    If this is true than why is MacArthur and his ilk so bent on portraying Rome as teaching a false man-centered peligian gospel?

    Because that’s a part of his Reformation heritage. It’s part of the Reformation “tradition” to hold that Rome is the anti-christ, or at least something close.

    there is no real difference between coming into grace and growing in grace since they are both by infusion. Hope to hear from you soon.

    It’s one thing to say that Trent basically retained Aquinas’s teaching on justification by calling it “initial justification,” it’s another thing to claim that there is therefore no difference between initial justification and progressive justification in Trent. There definitely is. There is deeper continuity than discontinuity, though, since in both cases, the justification is by grace, and never apart from it.

    Thoughts?

    Bradley

  35. Vincent says:

    It’s one thing to say that Trent basically retained Aquinas’s teaching on justification by calling it “initial justification,” it’s another thing to claim that there is therefore no difference between initial justification and progressive justification in Trent. There definitely is. There is deeper continuity than continuity, though, since in both cases, the justification is by grace, and never apart from it.

    I meant since they both are by infusion of grace they both can be considered similar since initial justification is not based on some alien external righteousness and is not radically distinguished from sanctification. Here I quote what Bryan Cross told me:
    In Protestant theology justification is by extra nos imputation, and sanctification is by a progressive inward work of the Holy Spirit making us more and more conformed to the image of Christ. In St. Thomas, by contrast, there is no essential difference between the movement by which we come into a state of grace, and the movement by which we grow in grace, because both are by the infusion of sanctifying grace and agape. For this reason, what Trent Sess. 6 Chap. 10, and Canons 24 and 32 say concerning the increase in justice/grace, is fully in keeping with St. Thomas’s theology.

    Though I would qualify that according to Trent initial justification is by faith alone and progressive is by obedience. Do you agree with Byran’s quote?

  36. Vincent says:

    Here is another quote from Bryan (I may have already posted it so let me know):
    The movement toward justice from a state of no justice, or from a state of justice, is not a difference in end (i.e. terminus ad quem), and thus in species, but in terminus a quo, i.e. that from which. (For St. Thomas every movement takes its species from its terminus ad quem.) Thus since justification from a state of mortal sin is by the infusion of sanctifying grace and agape, and since for St. Thomas the infusion of sanctifying grace and agape is precisely what those already in a state of grace receive through the sacraments (see Summa Theologica III Q.62), and through good works done in a state of grace (see Summa Theologica I-II Q.114 a.8), this spiritual growth through the reception of the sacraments and through good works done in a state of grace can be understood even within St. Thomas’s theology as a kind of justification, namely, an increase in the supernatural justice already received. That he uses the term to refer to initial justification does not mean that his theology opposes understanding growth in grace as an increase in justification.

  37. Vincent says:

    I have a question which is not really related to our discussion at hand but do you know if Thomas Aquinas taught anything about purgatory? Did he believe in the doctrine and if he did what did he write about it? I am aware that he died before he can complete his summa, where he would of gotten to the part that dealt with purgatory.

  38. Matthew Gaetano says:

    Great discussion. Thanks!

    As for Purgatory, you can two questions in the “appendix” to the supplement…

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/5.htm

  39. Vincent says:

    I must make it clear that I am not a big believer of purgatory. Here is what Martin Chemintz said about the doctrine:

    “From this contrast of the statements of Scripture and the opinions of purgatory it is clear that the fiction of paplist purgatory is not only lacking in documentation and testimonies of Scripture but is such that it diametrically opposes the constant statements of Scripture and its chief passages, overturns the article of justification, changes the goal of salvation, distorts the Word, the sacraments, and the keys of the kingdom of heaven, overthrows true repentance, makes the obedience, death, and the satisfaction of Christ no effect, substitutes a false righteousness and satisfaction, detracts from the goodness of God, perverts the sleep and rest of those who have fallen asleep in Christ into the sharpest torments, takes away sure comfort from consciences, nourishes and strengthen impenitence and carnal security in those who can buy abundant intercessions after death. And briefly–purgatory is the mother, the fountain and origin, of all deceits of the whole papacy.”

    Nether the less I would still like to know if Aquinas held to this doctrine.

  40. I meant since they both are by infusion of grace they both can be considered similar

    ****************Sure. As Bryan says: initial and progressive justification have the same “end” (making more righteous ontologically) whereas in Reformed theology justification and sanctification have different ends, since one makes a person who is not ontologically righteous righteous by legal status only and the sanctification makes one righteous ontologically.

    Though I would qualify that according to Trent initial justification is by faith alone and progressive is by obedience.

    ***************I don’t think you’ve parsed things most helpfully here. For Augustine and Aquinas faith is true obedience and that’s precisely why it justifies (remember we discussed this when I said one of the chief differences between Catholics and Protestants is why faith justifies?). Furthermore, in Aquinas’ theology all obedience comes from faith, since without it true obedience is impossible. Thus, even progressive justification is by faith. … *********A better way to parse the difference would be like this 1) initial justification is instantaneous and progressive justification is progressive and 2) initial justification is caused by an infusion of unmerited grace (what most Reformed protestants would call regeneration) whereas progressive justification can be caused by merited grace, as in, for example, when one is faithful in his prayers and honest to others about the intentions of his heart (even when that’s hard or amounts to confession), and in doing so keeps his conscience clear, his holy striving done in and through the power of grace causes more grace: a deeper joy, a deeper union with God, etc. In this fashion, grace merits more grace. More grace is the “reward” of the righteous for their good works and earnest mortification. And as I mentioned in my paper, for Aquinas, that’s all merit is: reward. It doesn’t mean we deserve the reward, only that it is granted by God to us by grace. In Reformation theology grace and merit are dichotomized and one has nothing to do with the other, but in Aquinas merit simply means “reward,” and God rewards the righteous. What better way to reward the righteous than to grant them even more grace? This builds up a certain momentum of character that anchors one’s life firmly in grace. *****************(sorry I have to get the “enter” button on my Mac replaced it’s broken) Aquinas did believe in purgatory and bases his teaching in 2 Mac 12:46. For the pre-Reformation church (as distinguished from private opinions held only by a few such as Jerome) the book of 2 Maccabees was Scripture. But Aquinas does not think Scripture says much about purgatory, and so he doesn’t write extensively on it. See here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/7001.htm ********************** Whether purgatory “overturns” the doctrine of justification all depends on how one understands justification (and how charitably one interprets the doctrine of purgatory in Catholic theology rather than distorting their teaching to make for good polemics) ————-Bradley

  41. Matt! Thanks for dropping in and offering the link! Hope all is well with you!

  42. Vincent says:

    When you say that Aquinas did not think the scripture said much about purgatory, he was referring to the location or situation of purgatory:
    Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below and in proximity to hell, so that it is the same fire which torments the damned in hell and cleanses the just in Purgatory; although the damned being lower in merit, are to be consigned to a lower place. Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

    Have you read any catholic papers or works on purgatory? I can send you this link http://www.opusangelorum.org/formation/purgatory.html, which is a good overview of purgatory from a modern rc perspective. Read it and tell me what you think.

  43. Matthew Gaetano says:

    Spe Salvi is also a great place to start.

  44. Vincent says:

    Aquinas says some more extensive things about purgatory, you can read about it at this link http://www.newadvent.org/summa/6002.htm.

  45. Vincent, I have not studied purgatory either in Aquinas or in Catholic theology in any detailed way. I withhold judgment, but I’m glad to see Aquinas has written more than I thought (I just googled it and scanned through). There is lots of literature on Aquinas out there so I’m sure if you are interested you will find a chapter in a book or journal article devoted to the question, from which you can follow a footnote trail to more detailed sources. Bradley

  46. Vincent says:

    If you have any questions about Purgatory those two links of Aquinas that I sent you are good places to start. You said that you have not studied purgatory in detail but it seems you have with justification. And its good to see you do not consider the catholic doctrine on justification to be false.

  47. Vincent says:

    Also check out and read through the http://www.opusangelorum.org/formation/purgatory.html, link that i sent you. This link has the best description of purgatory from a modern RC perspective.

  48. Vincent says:

    So Bradley to some this whole conversion up, you do not consider Trent’s doctrine of justification false or heretical like most protestants do right? Why do you think many protestants constantly rip on Trent, is it because they cannot possibly allow for a doctrine of justification that is not forensic? Hope to hear from you soon.

  49. Vincent, ******(enter key still non-functional for about another week)****** That’s a good line of questioning. I would start with a question: What is heresy? Better yet: how can one arrive at a definition for heresy that is not confessionally subjective? My answer: historically. Heresy must, if it is to be understood objectively, be determined historically. That is, a heresy is when someone comes along as teaches something the universal church never believed and the majority of the church says “That’s the wrong way to believe.” If we don’t define heresy historically, it will be defined subjectively and loose its usefulness. In Protestantism it has become little more than a way of labeling a particular teaching “That doctrine I don’t agree with, or my confessional tradition does not agree with.” Of course this isn’t stated this way, but rather it’s usually worded like this: “That teaching contradicts Scripture!” But when heresy is defined as “that which contradicts Scripture,” it devolves into something subjective, since different traditions interpret Scripture differently, and people like Arius genuinely take their doctrine from Scripture (they have robust biblical arguments). *****Here is the rub: If heresy is defined historically, what consequences does this have for Reformation doctrine? In particular–what implications does this have for the Reformation doctrine of justification? Both Luther and Calvin hesitatingly admitted that even Augustine and the Father’s didn’t get justification right, and even someone like McGrath says there were no forerunners to the Reformation doctrine of justification (refer to his article here: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1509561?uid=3739680&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101588602377). ******* I think most Protestants today rip on Trent because they mostly adhere to something like the propositions reflected in 1-10 above (see my comment from 12.13.12). They therefore think Trent condemned the gospel as taught in Scripture. Thoughts? ***********Bradley

  50. Vincent says:

    Thanks for the response. Do you yourself adhere to those 10 propositions? If you do do you believe that those 10 propositions are written in scripture and taught by Paul? Know to a question that is not related to the topic. You said that you have read Brian Davis, do you know if he is a roman catholic or a protestant?

  51. Do you yourself adhere to those 10 propositions?

    I do not. Nor do I believe they were taught by Paul or any other biblical author.

    Brian Davis, do you know if he is a roman catholic or a protestant?

    He is Catholic (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Davies_(philosopher)). **** Bradley

  52. Vincent says:

    Yes. I agree completely with this quotation from Bryan. But “initial justification” is Aquinas’s main use of the term dogmatically, which is important to recognize. Nevertheless, I believe Trent basically followed Aquinas’s doctrine of justification, but added that this same grace also
    sanctifies. And if we are thinking of justifying grace as the grace of renewal and inner transformation, Trent is perfectly right: that same grace that renews our hearts continues to push us onward to spiritual maturity and deeper fellowship with God.

    So as long as justification means to make righteous it is not a big deal to say justification is a process, right? Can you explain what the difference is between the catholic and protestant view of merit is. Does merit mean we deserve anything from God in catholic theology? You also never answered my question on whether you see the reformation as necessary if justification was understood as something progressive instead of instantaneous, which is what happened during the middle ages, so obviously Aquinas’s teaching was forgotten but I believe Trent somewhat restored it. Your Thoughts?

  53. So as long as justification means to make righteous it is not a big deal to say justification is a process, right?

    Right. It would be no more controversial than a Protestant saying “I believe God makes us more and more holy, and our sanctification is progressive.”

    Can you explain what the difference is between the catholic and protestant view of merit is.

    Catholics do not think initial justification can be merited in any way. In this they agree with Protestants. However, they do believe that eternal life (or “final justification”) can be merited. But they don’t think of “merit” as a synonym for “earn,” but more like Aquinas—-something “merited” is not necessarily deserved, it just means that God promised the reward of eternal life to those who are doers of the law (Romans 2). This “doing” of the law is done through unmerited grace. Therefore, Catholics understand God to be crowning his own achievements in us on that day of final justification.

    whether you see the reformation as necessary if justification was understood as something progressive

    To ask whether the Reformation was necessary is too ambiguous a question. Which part of the Reformation? Which Reformation (remember the Catholics had their own Reformation, see: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_23?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20counter%20reformation&sprefix=The%20Counter%20Reformation,stripbooks,271&rh=n:283155%2Ck%3Athe%20counter%20reformation). I do believe some kind of Reform was necessary (Protestants and Catholics alike agree to that), but I think on the doctrine of justification the Reformers stepped too far in the right direction by dogmatically insisting on a teaching historically unprecedented even in the theologies they were trying to “recover” (like Augustine). Historical contingencies are mysterious and complex. If the medieval theologians didn’t start leaning more decidedly in a semi-pelagian direction (like the Eastern Orthodox church does) then perhaps the doctrinal Reformation with respect to justification would not have been considered necessary by the Reformers.

  54. Vincent says:

    You sound like a relativist here a little bit. It sounds like your saying that truth is subjective and that there is no possible way to know what it is. With historical theology it is impossible to appeal to history when it comes to heresy because usually heresy are new and take place when a doctrine is being debated or precisely defined. This is the case with the trinity, justification, free will, christology and many other doctrines. Those doctrines went under debate and several solutions were put out then the best and most biblically convincing solution that becomes dogma. The doctrine of justification was being debated and the reformers offered the best and most reasonable answer to the question being debated. Trent offered a bad and less convincing solution that was the most contrary to scripture and was therefore marked heretical and cut off from the visible church and went the way of the arians, pelgians and other historical heretics. The reformers offered the best answer that was conformed by scripture. Keep also in mind that Trent was relying on a faulty translation of the word justify and the reformers recovered the original languages used to properly define the word. Have you read McGrath’s books about the history of heresy and the history of justification? McGrath says that heresy comes along when a doctrine is being debated. The way the gospel has been preserved down through the centuries is not by proof-texting and hollow repetition of creeds, but by doctrinal development. Heresy, more or less, is one of the outcomes of these developments. Heresy is not a contaminant from outside a pure and pristine church, but a virus from within. McGrath demonstrates that most heresy originated within the church as Christianity gradually found its footing and attempted to articulate precisely what it believed, especially on important or unclear issues. So it could be said that Trent gave a bad or unsound answer to an unclear issue. As an historical theologian,
    McGrath explains the story of how the early church grappled with its new-found faith, and how it sought to both understand it and to protect it from error. He rightly notes that there was from the earliest times a recognisable and agreed to core of basic Christian beliefs. Contrary to the claims of many contemporary critics (and their popularisers such as Dan Brown), there was always a shared common faith: “Right from the beginning, Christians knew what really mattered about God and about Jesus of Nazareth.”But that had to be articulated, codified and theologically defined. Sure, there was diversity in the early Church, but it was a diversity based on a shared consensus about the basics of what the Gospel was all about. While there certainly existed differences in social, linguistic and cultural contexts, “there was a fundamental unifying strand in early Christianity”. Heresy is, in other words, a theological cul-de-sac on the Church’s journeys of doctrinal exploration.

  55. Vincent says:

    Heresies are “byways opened up for exploration through the process of doctrinal development.” McGrath describes heresy as an outcome of the “journeys of exploration that were originally intended to enable Christianity to relate better to contemporary culture. Heresy arose through a
    desire to preserve, not to destroy, the gospel.” Heresy is not a contaminant from outside a pure and pristine church, but a virus from within. So it can be argued that the heretical view of justification espoused by Trent was one of outcomes of the development of the doctrine of Justification. The erroneous translation of justification that said to “make righteous” that the early church fathers and medieval theologians were relying on led to heresy and a theological cul-de-sac when it comes to justification. The doctrine of Trent was erroneous because the medieval and early church was erroneous that relied on a faulty translation of the word justify, which only the reformers finally recovered. This historical excursus bolsters many of the claims McGrath has made about heresy. For example, though there is little question that Pelagianism subverts the gospel, Pelagius was within the church and interested in moral renewal. He was not motivated by a lust of novelty, jealousy, or envy so far as is known. So Trent was motivated to better define justification but instead defined a false theological answer. Like Luther said, “All have sinned and are justified freely, without their own works and merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Romans 3:23-25). This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us … Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything else falls (Mark 13:31).[7]” Do you believe Trent denied this important truth or do you believe it was retained but in a somewhat different way?

  56. Matthew says:

    From the perspective of an outside observer (if I may say so), it seems to me that Bradley has answered several of Vincent’s questions asked in the last post…a couple of times already. Are his previous answers not sufficient? Or do you just disagree with his answers? Sorry for the comment from the peanut gallery…

  57. Vincent says:

    I must make it clear that what I espoused up there is not particularly my view or even the view of McGrath (for he nowhere asserts that Trent’s doctrine of justification is heretical or false in any of his books). But I would like Bradley to engage with my last two long posts and I would like to know what his thoughts are on what I wrote there.

  58. You sound like a relativist here a little bit.

    If you have so quickly written me off as a relativist (or something close to that), this would be a careless mistake, especially considering my reason for defining heresy historically (so that it will be more “objective”). I can only presume you are interpreting me now with a hermeneutic of suspicion, which is one of the biggest hindrances to genuine dialogue and mutual understanding. I’ve studied Bible and theology for over 10 years, have a bachelor’s in religious studies, a masters in Divinity, and after next semester will have a Th.M. in theology. There was a time when I was even more confident about my own theological opinions (what the Bible teaches, who the heretics are, etc.) than you now appear to be in yours. But somewhere along the way I chose to read heavily and more charitably those with whom I disagreed and give due consideration to their best arguments (not just the one’s I thought I knew how to easily refute), and interpret them as honest opinions of honest people who were trying their best to understand the truth (rather than interpreting them as heretics who need to be proven wrong and polemicized against). My attitude (and opinions) have since changed. I once asked a friend of mine who attended a conservative Baptist church that understood themselves to be following Martin Luther’s gospel (and considered Luther a great hero of the Reformation who recovered the gospel) what he would say to someone if they taught that faith alone without baptism does not save, and that one must be baptized to be saved. He said very sanguinely: I would say that’s heresy. I said to him: My friend, you have just condemned Martin Luther as a heretic. Most protestants haven’t even read Luther carefully, but they have no less confidence that he recovered the gospel for the church. It’s an odd situation born of ignorance and zeal.

    With historical theology it is impossible to appeal to history…

    Ok stop right there. Do you see the problem with this statement?

    .

    Saying that heresy originates during times when certain doctrines are more scrupulously debated begs the question about what heresy actually is. Your only argument for why Catholics should be considered heretics and not Protestants is what you say the Bible teaches. But this begs the question about whether your own interpretation is the correct one. I used to hold strictly to a Reformed doctrine of justification and believed that Catholics were apostates who had denied the gospel. I changed my opinion against all odds: while studying with Reformed protestants at a Protestant seminary who also thought Rome was apostate for her doctrine of justification. I had all my Protestant bias working against such a conclusion, but my research was leading me to different conclusions. This thread is not the place for me to make some comprehensive critique of the can of worms you have opened now. I will, however, say this: the Reformers didn’t just “develop” a doctrine that was consistent with what had gone before, they repudiated what had gone before and taught something antithetical to it. Most people would say that the early councils of Nicea and Chalcedon, for example, only developed something that the church more-or-less already believed but needed help clarifying and defending against those who were arguing the opposite. The Reformers, on the other hand, were teaching something the church had never believed. It wasn’t a “development” of the same kind, therefore. Take your quotation for example:

    “Right from the beginning, Christians knew what really mattered about God and about Jesus of Nazareth.”But that had to be articulated, codified and theologically defined. Sure, there was diversity in the early Church, but it was a diversity based on a shared consensus

    The Reformers didn’t just refine, articulate, codify and defend what the “shared consensus” was—-they in fact broke with the consensus to teach something new that not only contradicted it, but explicitly condemned it. McGrath’s comparison is in this regard very misleading, but I can see why you would find it appealing.

    Heresy arose through a
    desire to preserve, not to destroy, the gospel.”

    This cuts both ways: Catholics could say the Reformers thought they were defending the gospel even though they were teaching heresy. The Reformers did not want to teach something entirely new, they were (I think) trying to “recover” the gospel of Augustine. But they ended up actually admitting (hesitantly) that what they were teaching was different than what Augustine had taught on justification. This should give pause.

    Do you believe Trent denied this important truth.

    Almost everything in that quote from Luther Catholics agree with, and even the current Pope said he has no quibbles with expressing it with the word “alone” (faith alone) so long as faith is understood as something that includes love for God and neighbor (which it does): see http://theophilogue.com/2009/01/18/the-pope-believes-in-justification-by-faith/. Trent denied that justification was by faith alone because they understood “faith alone” to mean something close to what is today known as “easy believism” and because they took a broader biblical approach to defining justification so that it included also the final judgment (please see how Paul uses “just” and “justified” in Romans 2). The reasons why the Join Declaration annulled the anathemas of the past as applying to the present participants in the dialogue is because Catholics and Reformers at that time didn’t listen well to each other and their disagreements were fraught with unbelievable political consequences hard for us to fathom today. This resulted in a lot of confusion (and pride) and hostility rather than mutual understanding. Now that Catholics and Lutherans are actually sitting down for charitable discussions they find they are more in agreement than they thought, even though there are still areas of disagreement. The latter are no longer considered “anathema” worthy by either Lutherans or Catholics. Have you read the Joint Declaration? Anyone who says that these agreements amount to nothing just because the Catholics don’t agree to the imputation of Christ’s active and passive obedience without which there is no “gospel” thereby imply that the entire pre-Reformation church was without the gospel, which, as I said, is an untenable position. Again: it’s one thing to have a doctrinal development that helps articulate and refine what the church has always basically believed. It’s another to have a doctrinal development that not only contradicts what the church has basically always believed, but to then call this the true “gospel.” You have heard your own teaches tell you I’m sure to be wary of the man who says he has discovered the “true” meaning of the faith and teaches something totally new. Protestants say this all the time, but they never actually apply it to the Reformation interestingly enough. Thoughts? ********Bradley

  59. Vincent says:

    I must ask you how familiar are you with the Council of Trent? Have you read through all the decrees and canons on justification? If so what made you want to decide that it was not apostate? Is it because you began to read Aquinas, Augustine and other per-reformation figures who finally convinced you that what Trent was teaching was not anything heretical or judaizing? Many other protestant theologians and apologists in the past have all read the church fathers and medieval theologians but yet they still stick to the conclusion that Trent’s doctrine is heretical. Maybe they are not as consistent as you are and are bitterly trying to cling to their reformation paradigms. Michael Horton for example said that Rome cut its self off from the visible church because it condemned anyone that said our only hope for salvation is faith in Christ (ps Trent does not really say that anywhere). The Joint-declaration was extremely flawed and was ambiguous and vague on very important issues so most protestants and Catholics have written it off as a false attempt to unity which sacrificed the truth for false unity. I am sure you are aware that protestant apologists and theologians have all rejected the joint-declaration. I am glad to here your thoughts.

  60. Vincent says:

    Have you read all the polemical works against Trent from the 16th century and beyond? If so i would like to know what you thought of them and also about the almost universal rejection by protestant theologians and layman of the joint-declaration.

  61. Vincent, (my enter button still is inactive): *************************I’ve read Trent’s decrees on justification several times.

    What made you want to decide that it was not apostate?

    I was accustomed to appreciating rational arguments from my familiarity with Protestant apologetics (both against unbelief and other faith traditions). I was also familiar with how easily one’s position can be distorted and how often those who believed differently than me would choose to critique arguments I would never make or single out the weakest possible arguments as representing my position. I decided this was uncharitable and unfair. Next, I applied this to myself and decided that I would do my homework and research the best possible arguments for any position I argued against (or see if I could discern myself any inconsistencies in my own position), and study the counter arguments to the typical arguments made by those like me. Once I did this, I realized there were many holes in my position that neither I nor my Protestant teachers had good answers for (some of them had no answers at all, but others had responses I simply was not comfortable adopting). Furthermore, my teachers (some of the finest in Protestantism I know) were distorting Catholic teaching and even distorting (or quieting discussion about) some of the teachings of the Reformers (about baptism, for example, or the book of James). Once these holes in my apologetical bucket (and I borrowed that bucket from people like John McArthur, John Piper, Ron Nash, James White and many others I’m trusting you also know) started adding up with no good counter arguments to plug the holes, the dogmatism leaked out of my bucket and I learned to respect the reasons why others disagreed with people like me. ********************But I didn’t convert to Catholicism (or Eastern Orthodoxy—that strange faith in the East that evangelicals tend to almost forget exists) because I didn’t want to jump from one leaking bucket into another. Thus, at this point in my spiritual journey I see each Tradition’s defense as having weak points, and although I’m not a relativist, I don’t see any particular group (Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodoxy) as having a rational defense for every detail of their position that is bullet proof. I am a little disenchanted concerning the apologetic enterprise, inasmuch as it exists to “proove” with rational argument which religious tradition makes the most sense, or is more rational, or has the better argument. So much of the time who has the better argument depends on what topic is being discussed, and who is discussing it (and how knowledgeable they are and how skilled in the art of live debate or written debate they are). I still think it’s worthwhile to ask “What makes more sense?” I just think it’s naive to think that any particular religious tradition can be ultimately vindicated as the objective winner, as if one’s own religious tradition can defended in every detail and every single potential counter argument fully and satisfactorily refuted. That’s when I perceived that pride was a key contributor to much divisiveness and dogmatic polemecism, and the doctrine of the unity of the church taught in Scripture was not even an article of faith in my evangelical tradition (although a good friend of mine John Armstrong is trying to make a comeback for it:http://www.amazon.com/Your-Church-Is-Too-Small/dp/031032114X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356560544&sr=8-1&keywords=Your+Church+is+TOo+Small), even though it was part of the faith of the early church (see the creeds) and considered one of the most important doctrines by the biblical authors themselves. I would say it’s not so much a desire to be a rationalist that led me to where I am now, so much as my desire to be humble and fair-handed and charitable that landed me where I am now. *******************My journey all started when I was doing a research paper on the ECT documents, and planning on taking the position of McArthur and Sproul—that the documents were betraying the Reformation and the gospel. I made it through most of my research able to maintain this position and critically critique the positions of people like J.I. Packer and others who were signing the document. But after I read Matthew Heckle on the matter, I was forced to end my research paper without taking sides. That’s how it all began. So you should read Matthew Heckle’s article (I have already referred to it in our dialogue and left you a link to it). Once I became open to the idea that maybe McArthur and Sproul and others like James White might be wrong, the floodgates suddenly opened up (because my prejudice no longer hindered me from considering arguments fairly, which is part of treating people charitably). Once I was open to the idea that Catholics (yes, even good’ol Trent-toting Catholics) might be real Christians (as condescending as that now sounds to me) I also deepened my desire to listen to them and treat them more charitably (instead of treating them as enemies). As far as justification is concerned, once I realized that Augustine taught something different than the Reformers that fit the basic schema of the Catholic position, I knew that I had as much grounds to accept Catholics as my brothers in Christ as the Reformers did to accept St. Augustine as a genuine Christian—–not to mention an exemplary saint and revered father of the church). The next research I did was on Augustine. ************There is a reason why I have given you a more personal narrative here rather than trying to line up my rational arguments. I don’t believe most people are willing to follow the better argument (cases like mine are very unusual), for I don’t believe people typically examine the best arguments on both sides before they make their decision. I became a Protestant because the people who reached out to me and shared their faith with me were Protestant. I didn’t wait until I read all the books for and against Protestantism and Catholicism (not to mention Eastern Orthodoxy) before joining a church and being baptized. I became a Christian before looking into the arguments from Muslims in defense of Islam, or Buddhists in defense of Buddhism. Experience, culture, tradition, circumstance, and relationships are usually what drive people to a certain default position (not rational argument), and they learn to defend their position from a posture of commitment and learn from others who also hold their position how to best defend it. People are therefore usually most familiar with arguments for their own faith without ever actually reading enough literature from the other side to become just as familiar with the arguments for the contrary position and their counter arguments, etc. They are usually exposed to counter arguments second hand by polemicists who are eager to prove them wrong and therefore do not do a good job of “playing devils advocate.” This recipe for bias and prejudice is the unfortunate norm. I don’t believe most people come to these controversial discussions actually open to changing their position and considering the possibility that they are wrong. Most people discuss these things from a position of commitment and are closed to such possibilities. They have an aggressively defensive stance coupled with a hermeneutic of distrust.

    The Joint-declaration was extremely flawed and was ambiguous and vague on very important issues so most protestants and Catholics have written it off as a false attempt to unity which sacrificed the truth for false unity. …i would like to know what you thought of them and also about the almost universal rejection by protestant theologians and layman of the joint-declaration.

    If you think the Joint Declaration was rejected by the majority of Catholics and almost universally by Protestants, that tells me you are living in a bubble and not reading very broadly, which is part of the problem (as I’ve already mentioned). The JD was officially approved by the highest authorities in the Catholic church, and I’ve never met a single Catholic (and I have many Catholic friends now) who rejected it. Where I am now (University of Dayton) people who reject the Join Declaration are considered to be a minority of unreasonable fundamentalists. It’s funny how one sees things differently depending on her social context, what books she’s reading, and where her commitments lie (and I might add: how high the stakes are). (and again, you would be sorely mistaken to write this comment off as proof that I’m a “relativist”).

    Have you read all the polemical works against Trent from the 16th century and beyond?

    Even if I were a polyglot and knew all European languages from the 16th century up to modern times such a feat would be a life-long research endeavor and would fail due to lack of time. So many things were written in so many different languages during the Reformation period alone (let alone up to Modern or Post-modern times) written by so many people from so many different perspectives and so much of the literature is unpublished, or if published, untranslated for english speaking people. Usually it’s only the most well-known literature that gets published or translated. —————–Bradley

  62. Vincnet says:

    When i amtalking about polemical works against Trent I have in mind the works of Chemintz and John Calvin. Are you familiar with these works? With respect to the joint declaration every major Protestant theologian from Sproul, White, Horton and all the major Luthern Theologians all belive that it was ambiguious and that it sacrificed truth on altar of false unity. I suggest you read those critiques and objections to the document. But your point is well taken, if Aquinas and Augustine can be considered true christians despite their teaching on justification, then what is to stop us from fully accepting RC’s as christain apart from inconsistancy maybe. Have you studied alot of the writings of the ECFS and medieval theologians?

  63. Vincent says:

    Hey Bradley excuse me for those numerous typos on my last post, I was in a hurry and it was posted before I could correct it. But I would still like to know how much of the reformer’s works you have read and how much of Aquinas and Augustine you have read. Are you aware how many people rejected and condemned the Joint declaration? Why do you think many protestants are bitter towards it, is it because the language of imputation was left out?

  64. I am familiar with Luther and Calvin, but not exhaustively (that is, I haven’t read even the majority of their works, although I have read enough of their biblical commentary, catechisms, or systematic theologies to know some of their main arguments and positions on justification. I am aware that “many people” reject the JD, but also I am aware that many people embrace it. Protestants “bitter” towards it due to their tradition and zeal (remember 1 – 10 above). And that imputation language was left out is a major part of this (cf. for example R.C. Sproul’s critique of it, but he is sufficiently rebutted by Matthew Heckle in my opinion: http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/47/47-1/47-1-pp089-120_JETS.pdf). ************ Bradley

  65. Vincent says:

    But you have read most of their works on justification in order to understand how it differs from the Catholic view right? Do you know that the imputation concept in also found in Catholicism, the difference is that the infusion of grace is the equivalent of imputation here. Were did the whole legal imputation concept originate? I think it has to do with medieval law (the lawyer Calvin). The entire philosophy of forensic justification hangs on the medieval legal concept of imputation (Calvin was an attorney) i was told. The biggest difference is that The Apostles taught the “reckoning” is actual (grace is infused) where Luther and Calvin taught that it was simply a
    forensic justification (delcared, rather than actual). so basically from their point of view God has cooked the books, and credited something that in reality does not exist (we are really just snow covered dunghills). I am happy to hear your thoughts.

  66. After reading Luther’s commentary on Romans, I concluded that if his commentary represents his doctrine of justification accurately, there isn’t really that much difference between his view and the Catholic view (http://theophilogue.com/2010/04/30/luther-vs-catholics-on-justification-2/), but I am aware that some argue that he later changed this view (although I am not aware that he ever rescinded or retracted what he taught there explicitly). The forensic doctrine originated with Reformation theology, and perhaps it did have a lot to do with a proclivity for legal categories (but that’s a hard thing to prove). Yes I have noticed that the word “imputation” much like the phrase “faith alone” is often used by pre-Reformation theologians, yet it is used in a very different way that fits the Catholic schema for justification. Reformation defenders probably wouldn’t like the way you worded their doctrine of imputation because they would say the righteousness that was “credited” really does exist, just not “within” the believer, but rather “outside” of him/her in the divine ledger. But basically you are exactly right. :) *******Bradley

  67. Vincent says:

    Exactly the terms like “faith alone” and “imputation” were used by pre-reformation figures but like you said those things had a very different meaning than what the Reformers meant by then. I was just at Catholic answers and one of the people there told me that the word imputation can be used in Catholic theology as long as it is referring to an infused inherent righteousness that is credited to our account. I would like to know from you how Luther’s understanding of justification is similar or compatible to the one espoused at Trent.

  68. Vincent says:

    Would you consider the following view Thomistic or more Molinist and Arminian?
    No, because effectual grace is never “alone” either. The Church does not baptize without a profession of faith. This profession is a response to God’s grace, drawing a person to the baptismal waters. Participation in baptism is also a righteous “work”, our contribution/response to grace. It is God who is at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure, but He does not do this work “solely” (without us). God does not save us because of anything we do, but He also does not save us apart from our will/choice/faith.

  69. Vincent says:

    Bradley what do you think about McGrath’s contention that the word to justify was mistranslated by Augustine to mean to make righteous? Did Aquinas understand to justify as to make righteous or declare righteous? I find it hard to believe that for almost 1,000 years all the theologians of the Western Church were relying on a poor translation and basing their theologies on it. Also the Eastern Church which uses Greek also understands to justify to mean to make righteous. “The words in the original Greek might allow, but never require a judicial interpretation. Since the time of Chrysostom it has been pointed out in the Greek Church that dikaioo could equally well be translated ‘make upright or righteous’”. See also “The Exegesis of Romans 5:12″, St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Vol. 27.3, p. 133ff., (1983); Vol. 27.4, p. 187ff. (1983) & Vol. 28.1, p. 231ff. (1984). Joachim Jeremias also notes that there are instances in the Bible when dikaioo is used in non-judicious contexts (see The Central Message of the New Testament, 1965).

  70. Vincent says:

    In Romans 4, Paul reaches the heart of his argument, appealing to the example of Abraham. ‘What then shall we say that Abraham our forefather discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. What
    does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ In other words, a salary isn’t a gift; the company owes it to you. Rome actually argues that we merit (de congruo) justification by cooperating with grace. But merit is precisely what Paul is excluding here. ‘However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.’ In one fell swoop, Paul destroys every plank in the Roman doctrine of justification. Rome says that justification is merited; Paul says it is a gift. Rome says that it is given to those who work for it; Paul says it is given to those who do not work for it. Rome says that God only justifies those who are truly holy inherently; Paul says that God only justifies those who are truly wicked inherently. Rome says that justification is a process of attaining righteousness; Paul says that justification is a declaration of imputed or ‘credited’ righteousness.
    That excerpt came from Michael Horton any thoughts?

  71. Vincent says:

    Here is another exerpt and I would be ahppy to hear your thoughts on it:
    In the Roman system, as we have seen, justification is sanctification. Through baptism, we are renewed and by cooperating with grace infused we merit final justification.

    The long and short of this was that on the eve of the Reformation itself, there were many different interpretations of this doctrine, but the decisive moment occurred not with Luther, but with the Roman Catholic humanist, Erasmus, to whose criticism of the Latin text of Scripture we have already briefly alluded.

    The Latin Vulgate, Jerome’s 4th century translation of the Scriptures, had been the official translation throughout the middle ages, and its integrity was generally assumed. But then came the Renaissance, a recovery of classical learning that included a return to the original Greek text of Scripture. As Oxford theologian Alister McGrath observes, the best example of the errors in the Latin Vulgate, corrected in tail end of the Renaissance, concerns its translation of the Greek word ‘dikaiosune,’ which means ‘to declare righteous.’ It is a legal term, a verdict. But the Latin Vulgate had translated ‘dikaiosune’ with the Latin word iustificare, which means ‘to make righteous.’ Erasmus and a host of classical scholars recognized that the Greek text required an understanding of justification that referred to a change in status rather than to a change in behavior or mode of being. Again, Erasmus had no doctrinal stake in this matter. He was not only a loyal son of the Roman church; he had engaged in heated polemics with Luther over free will. Nevertheless, he was Europe’s leading authority on the classical languages and could not overlook the glaring mistranslations. For this reason it has been said that Erasmus laid the egg that Luther hatched.

    It is quite remarkable that the Roman Church would continue to embrace its erroneous view of justification, given the advances in scholarship by their own best minds.

    This is true not only of the 16th century; many Roman Catholic biblical scholars of our own day recognize that the Roman position is untenable in the light of the biblical text. I am not only referring to such controversial theologians as Hans Kung, but to the accepted interpretations of Roman doctrine.

    Bearing the nihil obstat and Imprimatur of the Roman Church, Sacramentum Mundi is a modern encyclopedia of Roman doctrine. In its article on Justification we read that justification ‘implies a relation with a judgment rather than a mode of being.’ The term for Paul,

    ‘always has a certain forensic flavour which prevents its becoming a mere synonym of regeneration or re-creation. In later theology, however, this sense is often lost, and justification comes to mean nothing more than the infusion of grace (D 799). Now when St. Paul applies the juridical terminology to the new Christian reality, it acquires an entirely new meaning. It refers now not to the future but to the past (Rom.5:9), not to the just man but the sinner (Rom.4:5). And so the basis of justification must also be different. It can no longer be observance of the law. It must be Christ, whom God has made our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor.1:30), which is the same thing as saying that we are justified by faith in Christ (Rom.3:28).’ [ by Ricardo Franco, pp. 239-240]

    Furthermore, arguably the two most widely respected Roman Catholic biblical scholars, J. A. Fitzmyer and Raymond Brown, have recognized that justification is understood in the biblical text to mean legal acquittal and not a process of growth in inherent righteousness. ‘Justification in the Old Testament,’ writes Fitzmyer, ‘denotes one who stood acquitted or vindicated before a judge’s tribunal…This uprightness (righteousness) does not belong to human beings (Rom. 10:3), and is not something that they produced or merited; it is an alien uprightness, one belonging to another (Christ) and attributed to them because of what that other had done for them…This justification comes about by grace and through faith’ (Romans, AB 33, pp.116-19).

    But we can even go a step beyond Sacramentum Mundi and Fitzmyer, citing an article that our opponents will no doubt respect, since it is published in their magazine, This Rock (April 1995). After attacking the Protestant doctrine of ‘faith alone,’ Leslie Rumble concedes, ‘Now it is quite true that Paul made use of a word which in the Greek language had the technical meaning of legal acquittal. And if the word can have no other meaning than that, one could scarcely dispute the interpretation of justification as implying no more than to be accounted as righteous or not guilty in the sight of God.’ But alas, ‘Luther had not the advantages of modern scholarship.’ ‘He belonged to an age when it was thought that the real meaning of the New Testament could be best ascertained by discovering the exact sense of the Greek language in which its books were originally written.’ Rumble evidently thinks that the meaning of the biblical text cannot be discerned in the same manner as Homer or Aristotle.

    Having conceded that the New Testament Greek text agrees with Luther, Rumble nevertheless rejects this view on the basis that ‘the whole religious outlook’ takes precedence over the fine print. Although he admits that this interpretation is at odds with the Scriptures in their original language, we are supposed to take Rumble’s word for it that ‘the whole religious outlook’ of the Bible endorses the Roman position, even though its actual words contradict it.

    The verbal ending of dikaiow is declarative; if the biblical writers intended by ‘justification’ a process of moral transformation, there is a perfectly good verbal ending for that sort of thing in Greek: adzo rather than ow. For instance, ‘to make holy’ is translated from the Greek verb, ‘hagiodzo,’ and this word is never rendered ‘to justify.’ When the biblical writers refer to justification, they use the declarative ending; when they refer to sanctification, they use the progressive ending. If it is good enough of a distinction for the biblical writers themselves, surely we should have not trouble with the Bible’s own language.

    Furthermore, it is an imputation of an ‘alien righteousness’ rather than an infusion of righteous into the soul. It is not, as it has been caricatured, a ‘legal fiction,’ as if God could judge contrary to the facts. We maintain that God’s judgment is strictly according to the facts, but that it is Christ’s righteousness imputed to our account that allows God to be both ‘just and the justifier of those who believe.’ It is not a legal fiction because Christ’s righteousness is real and perfect and it has been truly credited to the account of the believing sinner. Let me illustrate the point: 11 yrs. ago now, I went to Europe with a group of college friends. It will come as no surprise to parents everywhere that by the last week, I had run out of money and had to phone home. My parents graciously transferred funds from their account to mine and I was saved from disaster. Was that my money? In the sense that it was in my account, surely it was my money. But had I earned it? Certainly not. The only reason that my account showed a full credit instead of a deficit was because my parents, who had earned that money, had transferred it to my account. Was this a ‘banking fiction’?

    In the same way, God’s judgment that we are righteous before him even though we are not inherently righteous in ourselves is not a ‘legal fiction.’ The perfect righteousness of Christ is credited to the believer’s account as though the believer had never sinned and had perfectly loved God and his neighbor with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. The account not only lacks any debt; it shows a balance of perfect righteousness. Luther’s phrase was ‘simul iustus et peccator,’ ‘simultaneously justified and sinful.’ God judges a believing sinner righteous not because the individual is actually righteous, but because Christ is actually righteous and the believer is covered in his righteousness. That is not to say that the believer is not being made righteous, but it is to say that this process is sanctification rather than justification; it is the effect of justification rather than its cause.

  72. Vincent,

    I would like to know from you how Luther’s understanding of justification is similar or compatible to the one espoused at Trent.

    See my previous link to “Luther vs. Catholics on Justification,” where I use quotations from Trent and the Catholic Catechism.

    Would you consider the following view Thomistic or more Molinist and Arminian?

    I would say this quotation you provided could be interpreted in either Protestant, Molininist, Arminian, Calvinistic, or Catholic sense, because all would agree that God does not save us apart from faith, which, even if it is considered a gift from God, is something we do. Thus even the most Calvinistic view would say God does not save us apart from faith, and faith is not an operation void of will and choice. Thus this quotation doesn’t answer the dividing questions.

    Bradley what do you think about McGrath’s contention that the word to justify was mistranslated by Augustine to mean to make righteous? … I find it hard to believe that for almost 1,000 years all the theologians of the Western Church were relying on a poor translation and basing their theologies on it.

    Again, here I would refer you to my research which is partly designed to refute McGrath’s attempt at making the pre-Reformation doctrine appear to be a simple translation mistake from Greek to Latin, which is a problematic view in many ways: http://theophilogue.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/justification-in-aquinas_1xxx_.pdf

    I would add further, that John Chrysostom makes his position problematic, for Chyrostom did not come after Augustine (they were contemporaries), and perhaps more important, he did not have to rely on Augustine’s Latin translation of the Greek, for his native language was Greek. Yet he interpreted “justification” to mean “make righteous,” which is abundantly clear from even a cursory reading of his commentary on Romans. Once I am done writing my new research article “Justification in John Chrysostom,” I will give abundant evidence of this and other ways he contradicts the Reformed interpretation of Paul.

    Also the Eastern Church which uses Greek also understands to justify to mean to make righteous.

    Exactly. This makes McGrath’s position problematic, plus reveals his blind spot: the Eastern Christian Tradition. It is very telling that in spite of the prominence and influence of John Chrysostom in the East (not to mention the West), there is not a single reference to him in McGrath’s book. Very telling.

    Did Aquinas understand to justify as to make righteous or declare righteous?

    Again, here I would refer you to my research (see link above). Aquinas followed Augustine, and Trent followed Aquinas and Augustine. All of them interpreted it as “make righteous.”

    Michael Horton ::

    In other words, a salary isn’t a gift; the company owes it to you. Rome actually argues that we merit (de congruo) justification by cooperating with grace. But merit is precisely what Paul is excluding here.

    Catholics do not teach that the justification of the ungodly (initial justification) is merited in any way. Trent denies that such justification can be merited either by good works or by faith. The only sense in which anything is merited, is when God obligates himself (by his own merciful promises) to reward good works. Given that this imposes a contingency on the reward, only those who meet the contingency get the reward. Meeting the contingency is thus defined as “meriting” the reward, but this does not mean the meeting of the contingency was not accomplished by grace. Thus, merit and grace are not (at least in the Catholic dogma of merit) opposed to each other or mutually exclusive, and both Augustine and Aquinas taught something that could be summarized as “merit by grace,” which finds it’s corollary in Protestant eschatology, where people’s level of reward in heaven is dependent upon the quantity and quality of their good works in this life. Although Protestants don’t call this “merit,” they understand it in a similar way.

    Michael Horton ::

    Rome says that God only justifies those who are truly holy inherently

    I’m afraid Horton is not being careful to distinguish the justification of the ungodly (initial justification) here from progressive justification of the already justified or the eschatological justification at the final judgment (final justification). Catholics teach God justifies the ungodly instantaneously by grace alone apart from any merit: in this it is ungodly sinners who are being made righteous by grace, not “those who are truly holy inherently.” But after this justification has taken place, Christians become (or at least can become) more and more holy by growing in grace, and inasmuch as this is referred to as progressive justification, one could say that the object of justification here is in fact someone who has already been made holy, but “inherently” is a very misleading word to apply even here, since although the righteousness is considered by Catholics as being located within (by the divine grace indwelling or infused), the origin and cause of this grace is outside the believer (which makes it in this sense an alien righteousness). Saying Catholics believe it’s “inherent” makes it sound like they believe it originated from within rather than from without (and so this is a poorly chosen word in my opinion to describe the Catholic view and gives a distorted picture for Protestant audiences). Finally, at the eschatological judgment (final justification) the situation is also the justification of the holy. Believers (who have been made holy by grace) are at this judgment judged (and justified) according to works (Romans 2). While progressive and final justification have the holy person as their object, neither senses of justification are how Catholic interpret most the key passages in Romans where Paul talks about the “justification of the ungodly” (Romans 4:5), and the first sense of justification (initial justification) does not have the holy person as the object of justification. Thus strictly speaking, Horton is here both wrong and misleading as far as I can tell. Perhaps another example of how much of the debate takes place without both sides listening very carefully to the other and tending to, in their zeal for the truth, misunderstand, uncharitably distort, oversimplify, and misrepresent their opponent (with good intentions of defending the truth of course, but no less unfortunate).

    Michael Horton ::

    Paul says that justification is a declaration of imputed or ‘credited’ righteousness.

    Nowhere does Paul say justification is a being declared righteous. This is based on a linguistic assumption that Paul’s Greek word (dikaioo) is forensic only (which is an assumption not shared by all Protestants even), and then based on this forensic restriction on the meaning of the term (dikaioo), interprets also Paul’s word “imputed” or “reckoned” (logizomai) as therefore based on a forensic righteousness (in the divine ledger, not in the believer). If we take away the former, and interpret justification as “being made righteous” (which the pre-Reformation church unambiguously did, see also Paul doing this in Romans 5:19), then God’s “reckoning” someone as righteous would be based on their ontological righteousness granted by grace (the “new heart” given to the believer that loves God and obeys his commandments). Furthermore, Paul never says that Christ’s righteousness (much less does it says his active and passive obedience) is imputed to the one who believes, but rather he says that the faith of the one who believes is counted as righteousness, and this righteousness is always referred to as God’s righteousness (not Christ’s). Don’t let that last part trip you up, for the apostles often used the word “God” to distinguish the Father from the Son, such that God refers to the Father as distinct from the Son. For more on this, see: Robert H. Gundry, “The Non-Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness,” in Justification: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates, eds. Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004).

    I want to point something else out, however. Even if dikaioo did mean to “declare righteous,” this would still leave open the question: On what basis does God declare people righteous? Here the answer could still go at least in to directions: 1) because God has granted them faith, which has changed their hearts and made them obedient to the spirit of all God’s commandments (to love one’s neighbor as oneself) or 2) because Christ’s active and passive obedience have been transferred to their record in the divine ledger. Now I find plenty of support for the former in Scripture, and very little (if any) support for the latter (and again, I have read Piper’s defense of it more than once, and even made a stringent outline of his arguments to understand them, and even so I remain unconvinced). Protestants who think they have won the day just by showing the term dikaioo has forensic overtones or is merely forensic are, I think, raising their victory flag to soon. As I tried to show in my commentary on Aquinas’ doctrine of justification, it wasn’t merely this one word which determined Aquinas’ interpretation, but the context of Paul’s letter as a whole. Thus the true hope for a resolution in the different interpretations must lie in the overall context of Paul’s thought in Romans.

    Michael Horton ::

    In the Roman system, as we have seen, justification is sanctification.

    This oversimplifies the situation and obscures some of the most important things to keep in mind. Most importantly, in the “Roman system” (if that’s what you want to call it—a “system,” which sounds very impersonal and pejorative and I fear is a condescending way of talking about Catholics’ beliefs) the justification of the ungodly (initial justification) is only the first miraculous and instantaneous initiation into sanctifying grace and cannot be merited in any way according to Catholic theology. This is not at all the same as the Protestant doctrine of sanctification, which is progressive. In Catholic dogma progress made in sanctifying grace (progressive justification) is however similar to the Protestant doctrine of sanctification. Even when Catholics talk about meriting further justification (and here they have in mind progressive justification of the holy, not the instantaneous justification of the ungodly) all they mean (from what I can tell from my sincere seeking out of a faithful understanding of the Catholic position) is that if you stay faithful to your prayer life, study the Scriptures, do acts of kindness and love toward your neighbor, faithfully gather with God’s people to take the Eucharist (or Lord’s Supper if you want) and hear God’s word preached, etc., God will continue to reward you with more grace so that you become progressively more and more holy. Protestants, in their theology of sanctification, believe something very similar to this (if not virtually the same thing), but the vast difference in terminology and categories employed makes the views seem much further apart than they really are (and throwing the controversial word “justification” in the mix to in any way refer to sanctification immediately makes Protestants turn red in the face and prevents them from seeing the parallels in their own theology).

    I’m afraid I will have to stop there, for responding to every detail of your lengthy quotations would be too cumbersome. I hope my responses to some of what has been quoted will give you an idea of how one can read the situation differently.

    Pax,

    Bradley

  73. Vincent says:

    Thanks for your response Bradley your knowledge of things never ceases to amaze me. It seems that Horton has a very superficial view of Catholic theology. What would you say about the following decree of Trent in light of Aquinas’s teaching?

    “This disposition, or preparation, is followed by Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary
    reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend, that so he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.Of this Justification the causes are these: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting; while the efficient cause is a merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing, and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance; but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited Justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father; the instru-[Page 35]mental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified; lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation. For, although no one can be just, but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity. For faith, unless hope and charity be added thereto, neither unites man perfectly with Christ, nor makes him a living member of His body. For which reason it is most truly said, that Faith without works is dead and profitless; and, In Christ Jesus neither circumcision, availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by charity. This faith, Catechumen’s beg of the Church-agreeably to a tradition of the apostles-previously to the sacrament of Baptism; when they beg for the faith which bestows life everlasting, which, without hope and charity, faith cannot bestow: whence also do they immediately hear that word of Christ; If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Wherefore, when receiving true and Christian justice, they are bidden, immediately on being born again, to preserve it pure and spotless, as the first robe given them through Jesus Christ in lieu of that which [Page 36] Adam, by his disobedience, lost for himself and for us, that so they may bear it before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, and may have life everlasting.”

    Did Aquinas also teach that justification is not only the remission of sins? Does the above quote give any hint that initial justification (which is obviously what the above quote is referring to) is instantaneous? Here is what another catholic wrote to me: “The whole Christian life from baptism to death is a process of justification. Justification isn’t something that WAS it is something that continues from the past through the present and into the future.”
    I would like to here your thoughts?

    Baptism happens at a discrete moment in time. The Free grace from God in that discrete moment in time flows from the past through the present and will continue to flow into the future if not interrupted by mortal sin.

    The whole Christian life from baptism to death is a process of justification

  74. Vincent says:

    When we are sealed in baptism, an ontological change takes place. We are made partakers of the divine nature. God is at work within us to will and to do His good pleasure. We are being transformed from one glory into another. We are UNITED to HIm, in His death and resurrection. We become MEMBERS of Him, and His One Body. Therefore the grace is no longer “alien” or outside the believer, but infused into the person, and one is brought “in Christ”.This is where the Reformers part ways with the Apostles, because the Apostles taught that His grace is no longer alien once we are infused with it. As partakers of the Divine Nature, we are now in Him, with Him, and through Him, and as we are sanctified, it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us.

  75. Vincent says:

    I found the Aquinas quote where he makes a distinction between the two different types of justices in justification. Here it is:
    ….justification [properly so called] may be taken in two ways. First, according as man is made just by becoming possessed of the habit of justice; secondly, according as he does works of justice, so that in this sense justification is nothing else than the execution of justice. Now justice, like the other virtues, may denote either the acquired or the infused virtue….. The acquired virtue is caused by works; but the infused virtue [of the execution of justice] is caused by God Himself through His grace. The latter is true justice, of which we are speaking now, and in respect of which a man is said to be just before God, according to Rom. 4.2. (10)

    it seems that Aquinas is distinguishing between two types of righteousness. Do you know if what he is saying here is compatible with RC teaching and Trent?

  76. vincent says:

    http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2009/02/aquinas-on-instant-and-progressive.html

    Have you read the above article from Bryan? Its to do with instanteanus and progressive justification.

  77. Vincent says:

    Did Aquinas believe that God can accept the ungodly as sinners without having them go through some ontological change first? Or does God in Aquinas theology accept sinners as sinners?

  78. Vincent says:

    Bradley do you know if Aquinas and Augustine held to a law and gospel type soteriology like the reformers. Did they pit law and grace against each other?

  79. vincent says:

    Hey Bradley I dont mean to bombard you with all these questions but do you know if justification was merely remission of sins for Aquinas or did it also include sanctification and the renewal of man?

  80. Vincnet says:

    Catholics do not think initial justification can be merited in any way. In this they agree with Protestants. However, they do believe that eternal life (or “final justification”) can be merited. But they don’t think of “merit” as a synonym for “earn,” but more like Aquinas—-something “merited” is not necessarily deserved, it just means that God promised the reward of eternal life to those who are doers of the law (Romans 2). This “doing” of the law is done through unmerited grace. Therefore, Catholics understand God to be crowning his own achievements in us on that day of final justification

    I have to disagree with the last sentence because Catholics can merit increase of grace and since they are synergusts the good works are both properly ours through our cooperation with grace and Gods because of his infused grace.

  81. vincent says:

    Bradley have you heard of the reformed and calvinistic explaination that we are jusified freely by faith perpetually even unto death? So that man is not justified freely without merits merely at initial justification but also at progressive and final justification.

  82. Vincent says:

    I found the following on the word to justify:
    Again, standard Greek dictionaries define the Greek word for justification as an imputed, not actual, righteousness: The Hebrew Greek Study Bible, (1984:23): “to render just or innocent”; Arndt and Gingrich (1967:196): “being acquitted, be pronounced and treated as righteous,” New Thayers’ Greek-English Lexicon (1977:150): “which never means to make worthy, but to judge worthy, to declare worthy… to declare guiltless…. to judge, declare, pronounce righteous and therefore acceptable”; Loruv and Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon (1988:557): “the act of clearing someone of transgression—‘to acquit, to set free, to remove guilt, acquittal.’”

    This is why Bruce Metzger, perhaps the premier Greek scholar in America, emphasizes it is “past comprehension” how someone can deny “the unmistakable evidence” of the Pauline meaning of this word. “The fact is that Paul simply does not use this verb to mean ‘to be made upright or righteous.’ Indeed, it is extremely doubtful whether it ever bore this meaning in the Greek of any period or author…. it means ‘to be pronounced, or declared, or treated as righteous or upright.”’ 4 Theologian J. I. Packer says, “There is no lexical grounds for the view of… the medieval and Roman theologians that ‘justify’ means or connotes as part of its meaning ‘making righteous’ by subjective spiritual renewal. The tridentine [Council of Trent] definition of justification as not only the remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man is erroneous.” 5

  83. Vincent says:

    This what St Augustine wrote:

    “As the law brought the proud under the guilt of transgression, increasing their sin by commandments which they could not obey, so the righteousness of the same law is fulfilled by the grace of the Spirit in those who learn from Christ to be meek and lowly in heart; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Moreover, because even for those who are under grace it is difficult in this mortal life perfectly to keep what is written in the law, You shall not covet, Christ, by the sacrifice of His flesh, as our Priest obtains pardon for us. And in this also He fulfills the law; for what we fail in through weakness is supplied by His perfection, who is the Head, while we are His members. Thus John says: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not; and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: He is the propitiation for our sins.’” 1 John 2:1-2
    [Contra Faustum Book 22, Chp 27] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/140619.htm

    The Law is fulfilled in us 1. imperfectly through the inworking of the Spirit intrinsically and 2. perfectly in the remission of sins by the supplying Another’s (that is, Christ our Head’s) perfect righteousness or “perfection” for our lack of intrinsic righteousness (i.e. extrinsic perfect righteousness covering/filling in for our lack of intrinsic righteousness—so that we are reckoned apart from the true deserving of our intrinsic righteousness as having fulfilled that perfect righteousness of God’s Law in Christ).

    Do you agree with the above assesment?

  84. Vincent,

    I will now begin responding to your questions in the order they were received, but they have accumulated to many, and I will only get to them as I have time. First, your questions from January 3rd, 2013.

    Did Aquinas also teach that justification is not only the remission of sins?

    Yes. He did.

    Does the above quote give any hint that initial justification (which is obviously what the above quote is referring to) is instantaneous?

    Yes. Because the “instrumental cause” is baptism, because it happens when a person receives the Holy Spirit within them (which also happens at baptism via faith), because faith implies the other theological virtues and “all these (gifts)” are (according to the quote you offered) “infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.” Even when the people of God are exhorted to preserve their justification (which would be a process), it is worded in such a way as to imply that they already have this justification which they are being encouraged to preserve: “Wherefore, when receiving true and Christian justice, they are bidden, immediately on being born again, to preserve it pure and spotless,….”

    Justification isn’t something that WAS it is something that continues from the past through the present and into the future.

    That the effects of an instantaneous act can endure to the present (and forever for that matter) is not objection to it’s instantaneous beginning. God can make us righteous in an instant, and we could remain such forever. God’s act of making us righteous (justification) would still be instantaneous even if it’s effects endure unto eternity. While the degrees of our righteousness and the maturity level of our righteousness may depend on a life-long process, the fact of our being righteous (regardless of degree or maturity level) is always owing to God’s act of making us such at some instantaneous point prior.

  85. Vincent says:

    I found a protestant making the following observations about Augustine. Tell me what you think:
    Quotes from St. Augustine that reflect the same point he’s making in the Retractions (i.e. imperfect righteousness by infusion (that leaves us “crooked” before God’s Perfect Standard) such that for perfect righteousness we must always rely on something apart from (or, “alien” to) the true deserving of our intrinsic righteousness. St. Augustine speaks time and time again not only of what he calls our imperfect internal righteousness/fulfillment of the Law but also of the perfect righteousness/fulfillment of the Law/freedom from all condemnation that we have through the forgiveness of sins (accomplished through the righteous covering of Christ’s Blood). Thus St. Augustine notes this two-fold means (imperfect intrinsically and perfect extrinsically) by which Christ fulfills the Law in us:
    “As the law brought the proud under the guilt of transgression, increasing their sin by commandments which they could not obey, so the righteousness of the same law is fulfilled by the grace of the Spirit in those who learn from Christ to be meek and lowly in heart; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Moreover, because even for those who are under grace it is difficult in this mortal life perfectly to keep what is written in the law, You shall not covet, Christ, by the sacrifice of His flesh, as our Priest obtains pardon for us. And in this also He fulfills the law; for what we fail in through weakness is supplied by His perfection, who is the Head, while we are His members. Thus John says: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not; and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: He is the propitiation for our sins.’” 1 John 2:1-2
    [Contra Faustum Book 22, Chp 27] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/140619.htm

    The Law is fulfilled in us 1. imperfectly through the inworking of the Spirit intrinsically and 2. perfectly in the remission of sins by the supplying Another’s (that is, Christ our Head’s) perfect righteousness or “perfection” for our lack of intrinsic righteousness (i.e. extrinsic perfect righteousness covering/filling in for our lack of intrinsic righteousness—so that we are reckoned apart from the true deserving of our intrinsic righteousness as having fulfilled that perfect righteousness of God’s Law in Christ).

    Thats the gist of his argument.

  86. Vincent says:

    Here is what a Protestant said. Does it agree with Aquinas views of the final judgement?
    is especially true when He talks about entering the kingdom of heaven. Yes, we do not enter the kingdom of God without works. But we do NOT enter the kingdom of God BECAUSE OF our works, either. Turretin describes it well when he says that our good works are necessary for salvation not in a causative sense, but in a resultative sense. They necessarily follow. So, they are necessary. But they do not cause our salvation. Neither does our love for God or neighbor. Our good works are the result of God’s sanctifying work inside of us. And, to give a glimpse of where I’m going in the next few posts: the passages that connect good works to the final judgment are evidentiary in nature, not causative. The world will want to know whether our faith is genuine. At that point, God will trot out our works and show the world that our faith was genuine, and that the verdict already rendered in our lifetimes is a true verdict. That’s what our works will do on Judgment Day.”

  87. Jim says:

    1.Justification is instantaneous for the Catholic. The moment the water of Baptism touches the person, he is justified.
    2. For an adult, there is a process before Baptism that includes (A) faith, (B) fear (C) hope (D) contrition. If the contrition has perfect charity, justification takes place even before Baptism.
    3.Aquinas, like Augustine before him, did most certainly believe in purgatory.
    Catholicism does not “confuse” justification with sanctification. ( Even McGrath says to separate them was a “theological novum” of the Deformation. It is protestantism that has such a low opinion of sanctification/regeneration that must add to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit with an alien imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ ( not found anywhere in scripture ).
    Sanctifying grace is the seed and seal of glory/the beatific vision. The only thing that can impede a soul from immediately entering into seeing God face to face at death is temporal punishment and venial sin. Upon it being cleansed in purgatory, the soul sees God.

  88. Jim says:

    I forgot to mention above (1) That the Baptized baby or adult, should they die after reception of the sacrament, goes straight to heaven. No good works needed. No more process of (secondary or final ) justification.
    (2) Justify can be either making righteous,just or holy or it can be the declaration of the fact. “He that justifies the wicked or condemns the just is an abomination”.( Proverbs 7 ) But what it is not, as the proverb shows, is a declaring as true what is not actually true. No declaring just someone who is not inherently so.

  89. Jim,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Well put. Where did you get notion D (that a person can be justified before baptism if their faith includes “perfect” charity)? I don’t doubt for a second this is not a part of Catholic teaching, I just want to know where to find it being taught. Is this in the Catechism? Is this found in Aquinas?

    Bradley

  90. lorna wiedmann says:

    What is your last name Pastor Matt? I wanted to reference the essay on prevenient grace above.

  91. […] that didn’t seem fair to me – the idea that another human being would be singled out for this prevenient grace. It gave Mary quite a head start on sanctity, I used to think. Who wouldn’t be good at loving […]

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