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Archive for September, 2011

The debate on justification between Protestants and Catholics have for a long time been concentrated on the definitions of Works of the law, as taught in scriptures by St Paul in Romans 3:28, as well as on the ‘biblicity’ of the Lutheran doctrine of ‘Faith Alone’. Now, some would argue that the sentence in Romans 3:28 “A man is justified by faith a part from the works of the law” is equivalent to say “A man is justified by faith alone”, but ‘justified by faith a part from the works of the law’ ONLY excludes works of law from faith, NOT such things as love, hope, charity or other virtuous quality. Moreover, as we study Scriptures we see that in fact, nowhere in the Bible has Paul associated the word alone with the word faith to explain justification. On the other hand, St. James, guided by the same Holy Spirit who inspired St Paul, asserts that Faith without Works is dead and writes: You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24).

Therefore, in the face of this controversy Catholics continue to be accused by their protestant counterpart of not relying on the Redemptive Sacrifice of Jesus for their salvation as they try to ‘earn’ their salvation through good works. So what is the real Catholic stand on Justification?

The Catholic teaching on justification is and has been the same as St Paul’s teachings, as we can verify it in the writings of the Council of Trent.

COUNCIL OF TRENT ON JUSTIFICATION – Canons On Justification – Session VI, (Jan. 13, 1547)

See also the Catholic definition of Anathemas

Canon 1. If anyone shall say that man can be justified before God by his own works which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the Law, and without divine grace through Christ Jesus: let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone shall say that divine grace through Christ Jesus is given for this only, that man may more easily be able to live justly and merit eternal life, as if by free will without grace he were able to do both, though with difficulty and hardship: let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone shall say that without the anticipatory inspiration of the Holy Spirit and without His assistance man can believe, hope, and love or be repentant, as he ought, so that the grace of justification may be conferred upon him: let him be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone shall say that man’s free will moved and aroused by God does not cooperate by assenting to God who rouses and calls, whereby it disposes and prepares itself to obtain the grace of justification, and that it cannot dissent, if it wishes, but that like something inanimate it does nothing at all and is merely in a passive state: let him be anathema.

Canon 5. If anyone shall say that after the sin of Adam man’s free will was lost and destroyed, or that it is a thing in name only, indeed a title without a reality, a fiction, moreover, brought into the Church by Satan: let him be anathema.

Canon 6. If anyone shall say that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of Himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul: let him be anathema.

Canon 7.- If anyone shall say that all works that are done before justification, in whatever manner they have been done, are truly sins or deserving of the hatred of God, or that the more earnestly anyone strives to dispose himself for grace, so much the more grievously does he sin: let him anathema.

Can. 8. If anyone shall say that the fear of hell, whereby by grieving for sins we flee the mercy of God or refrain from sinning, is a sin or makes sinners worse: let him be anathema.

Canon 9. If anyone shall say that by faith alone the sinner is justified, so as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification, and that it is in no way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will: let him be anathema.

Canon 10. If anyone shall say that men are justified without the justice of Christ by which He merited for us, or that by that justice itself they are formally just: let him be anathema.

Canon 11. If anyone shall say that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of grace and charity, which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and remains in them, or even that the grace by which we are justified is only the favor of God: let him be anathema.

Canon 12. If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema.

Canon 13. If anyone shall say that it is necessary for every man in order to obtain the remission of sins to believe for certain and without any hesitation due to his own weakness and indisposition that his sins are forgiven him: let him be anathema.

Canon 14. If anyone shall say that man is absolved from his sins and justified, because he believes for certain that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified, and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are perfected: let him be anathema.

Canon 15. If anyone shall say that a man who is born again and justified is bound by faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestined: let him be anathema.

Canon 16. If anyone shall say that he will for certain with an absolute and infallible certainty have that great gift of perseverance up to the end, unless he shall have learned this by a special revelation: let him be anathema.

Canon 17. If anyone shall say that the grace of justification is attained by those only who are predestined unto life, but that all others, who are called, are called indeed, but do not receive grace, as if they are by divine power predestined to evil: let him be anathema.

Canon 18. If anyone shall say that the commandments of God are even for a man who is justified and confirmed in grace impossible to observe: let him be anathema.

Canon 19. If anyone shall say that nothing except faith is commanded in the Gospel, that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free, or that the ten commandments in no way pertain to Christians: let him be anathema. Canon 20. If anyone shall say that a man who is justified and ever so perfect is not bound to observe the commandments of God and the Church, but only to believe, as if indeed the Gospel were a mere absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observation of the commandments: let him be anathema.

Canon 21. If anyone shall say that Christ Jesus has been given by God to men as a Redeemer in whom they should trust, and not also as a legislator, whom they should obey: let him be anathema.

Canon 22. If anyone shall say that he who is justified can either persevere in the justice received without the special assistance of God, or that with that [assistance] he cannot: let him be anathema.

Canon 23. If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema.

Canon 24. If anyone shall say, that justice received is not preserved and also not increased in the sight of God through good works but that those same works are only the fruits and signs of justification received, but not a cause of its increase: let him be anathema.

Canon 25. If anyone shall say that in every good work the just one sins at least venially, or (what is more intolerable) mortally, and therefore deserves eternal punishments, and that it is only because God does not impute those works unto damnation that he is not damned, let him be anathema.

Canon 26. If anyone shall say that the just ought not to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God and the merit of Jesus Christ for the good works which have been performed in God, if by doing well and in keeping the divine commandments they persevere even to the end: let him be anathema.

Canon 27. If anyone shall say that there is no mortal sin except that of infidelity, or that grace once received is not lost by any other sin however grievous and enormous, except the sin of infidelity: let him be anathema.

Can. 28. If anyone shall say that together with the loss of grace by sin faith also is always lost, or that the faith that remains is not a true faith, though it be not a living one, or that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Christian: let him be anathema.

Canon 29. If anyone shall say that he who has fallen after baptism cannot by the grace of God rise again; or that he can indeed recover lost justice, but by faith alone without the sacrament of penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church, taught by Christ the Lord and His apostles, has hitherto professed, observed, and taught: let him be anathema.

Canon 30. If anyone shall say that after the reception of the grace of justification, to every penitent sinner the guilt is so remitted and the penalty of eternal punishment so blotted out that no penalty of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in the world to come in purgatory before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened: let him be anathema.

Canon 31. If anyone shall say that the one justified sins, when he performs good works with a view to an eternal reward: let him be anathema.

Canon 32. If anyone shall say that the good works of the man justified are in such a way the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him who is justified, or that the one justified by the good works, which are done by him through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ (whose living member he is), does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life (if he should die in grace), and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

Canon 33. If anyone shall say that because of this Catholic doctrine of justification as set forth by the holy Synod in this present decree, there is in some degree a detraction from the glory of God or from the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that the truth of our faith, and in fact the glory of God and of Jesus Christ are not rather rendered illustrious: let be anathema

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