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One of the pleasures and privileges of scholarship is the opportunity to express one's gratitude to friends and colleagues upon the occasion of a publication. As with many scholarly first books, this present work had its genesis as a doctoral dissertation, and hence my first and most profound acknowledgment must be to Professor S. Harrison Thomson of the University of Colorado, whom I am honored to be able to describe as my mentor. Only my fellow "Old Thomsonians" can appreciate the common debt we owe to this great medievalist who was also a magni ficent teacher and counsellor.

An example can be cited from section 4. Their intention is to emphasize the responsibility of persons for their actions, not to contest the character of those works as gifts, or far less to deny that justification always remains the unmerited gift of grace", in comparison with "the concept of a preservation of grace and a growth in grace and faith is also held by Lutherans. They do emphasize that righteousness as acceptance by God and sharing in the righteousness of Christ is always complete. At the same time, they state that there can be growth in its effects in Christian living.

When they view the good works of Christians as the fruits and signs of justification and not as one's own 'merits', they nevertheless also understand eternal life in accord with the New Testament as unmerited 'reward' in the sense of the fulfillment of God's promise to the believer. Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed", but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

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In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds. James is dealing with people who profess to be Christians, and yet they don't evidence the reality of their faith by their works [deeds]. Over, and over again The question is, 'A man may say that he has faith, but will that faith justify him? It was Paul who developed the term justification in the theology of the church. Justification is a major theme of the epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians in the New Testament, and is also given treatment in many other epistles.

In Romans, Paul develops justification by first speaking of God's just wrath at sin Romans Justification is then presented as the solution for God's wrath Romans , Romans One is said to be 'justified by faith apart from works of the Law' Romans Further, Paul writes of sin and justification in terms of two men, Adam and Christ Romans 5.

Through Adam, sin came into the world bringing death; through Jesus, righteousness came into the world, bringing justification unto life Romans In chapter 8, Paul connects justification with predestination and glorification Romans He further states that those who are justified cannot be separated from the love of Christ Romans Several of these passages are central in the debate between Roman Catholics, and the various streams of Protestantism while there is broad agreement on justification by faith, there is no complete doctrinal uniformity on justification among all Protestant denominations , who can understand them in quite different ways.

In Galatians, Paul emphatically rejects justification by works of the Law , a rejection sparked apparently by a controversy concerning the necessity of circumcision for salvation Galatians , Galatians ; see also Romans and Council of Jerusalem.

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He also adds that the only thing that counts is the "faith [which] works by love" Galatians The Epistle to the Hebrews also takes up the theme of justification, declaring that Jesus' death is superior to the Old Testament sacrifices in that it takes away sin once for all Hebrews In Hebrews, faith in Jesus' sacrifice includes steadfast perseverance Hebrews , Hebrews James discusses justification briefly but significantly, declaring that a faith that is apart from works cannot be a justifying faith, because faith is made perfect or completed by works James 2 , especially James Indeed, works are required for justification because "man is justified by works, and not by faith alone" James , though the sense of the word justified in this passage is disputed.

However, in James, it is possible that justification is referring to how believers are to behave as believers, not how an unbeliever becomes a believer i. The faith must produce good fruit as a sign lest it become the occasion for self-justification. After the Apostolic era , the concept of justification was secondary to issues such as martyrdom. Pelagius taught that one became righteous through the exertion of one's will to follow the example of Jesus' life. Over against this, Augustine taught [13] that we are justified by God, [14] as a work of his grace.

The accused heretic wrote an appeal of his own, declaring his innocence, which was duly accepted by Innocent's successor, Pope Zosimus. However, the Council of Carthage again renounced Pelagius with papal approval. Christian traditions answer questions about the nature, function and meaning of justification quite differently.

These issues include: Is justification an event occurring instantaneously or is it as an ongoing process? Is justification effected by divine action alone monergism , by divine and human action together synergism or by human action? Is justification permanent or can it be lost? What is the relationship of justification to sanctification , the process whereby sinners become righteous and are enabled by the Holy Spirit to live lives pleasing to God?

Catholics and Protestants believe that we are justified by grace alone through faith, a faith that is active in charity and good works fides formata in case of Catholics, whilst Protestants believe through faith by grace they are justified. Most of Protestants believe they are justified by God's grace which is a free gift but it is received through faith alone. Catholics believe they are justified by God's grace which is a free gift but it is received through baptism initially, through the faith which worketh by love in the continuous life of the Christian and through the sacrament of reconciliation if the grace of justification is lost through mortal sin.

To Catholics, justification is "a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior", [16] including the transforming of a sinner from the state of unrighteousness to the state of holiness. This transformation is made possible by accessing the merit of Christ , made available in the atonement, through faith and the sacraments.

In Catholic theology, all are born in a state of original sin , meaning that the sinful nature of Adam is inherited by all. Following Augustine, the Catholic Church asserts that people are unable to make themselves righteous; instead, they require justification.

Catholics use Mark , John , Acts , and 1 Peter to support this view in justification by baptism. As the individual then progresses in his Christian life, he continues to receive God's grace both directly through the Holy Spirit as well as through the sacraments. This has the effect of combating sin in the individual's life, causing him to become more righteous both in heart and in action. If one falls into mortal sin they lose justification and it can be gained back through the sacrament of confession.

At the Final Judgment , the individual's works will then be evaluated. This is the permanent justification. In the Council of Trent , which Catholics believe to be infallible, the Catholic Church declared in the VII session in canon IV that, "If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all the sacraments are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema excommunicated.

Eastern Christianity, including both Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy , tends to not have a strong emphasis on justification as compared to Catholicism or Protestantism , seeing it as part of the concept of "theosis"; justification is often viewed by Eastern theologians as too highly forensic and they reject it. In large part, this de-emphasis on justification is historical. The Eastern church sees humanity as inheriting the disease of sin from Adam, but not his guilt ; hence, there is no need in Eastern theology for any forensic justification.

The Orthodox see salvation as a process of theosis , in which the individual is united to Christ and the life of Christ is reproduced within him. Thus, in one sense, justification is an aspect of theosis.


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In the words of one Orthodox Bishop:. Justification is a word used in the Scriptures to mean that in Christ we are forgiven and actually made righteous in our living. Justification is not a once-for-all, instantaneous pronouncement guaranteeing eternal salvation, regardless of how wickedly a person might live from that point on. Neither is it merely a legal declaration that an unrighteous person is righteous. Rather, justification is a living, dynamic, day-to-day reality for the one who follows Christ.

The Christian actively pursues a righteous life in the grace and power of God granted to all who continue to believe in Him. Anglicans , particularly high-church Anglo-Catholics , often follow Catholicism and Orthodoxy in believing both man and God are involved in justification. The objective is the act of God in Christ restoring the covenant and opening it to all people. The subjective aspect is faith, trust in the divine factor, acceptance of divine mercy. Apart from the presence of the subjective aspect there is no justification.

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People are not justified apart from their knowledge or against their will God forgives and accepts sinners as they are into the divine fellowship, and that these sinners are in fact changed by their trust in the divine mercy. In historic Anglicanism, the eleventh article of the Thirty-Nine Articles made it clear that justification cannot be earned, "We are accounted righteous before God However, certain Anglican theologians especially Anglo-Catholics argue for a faith characterized by faithfulness , where good works and the Sacraments play an important role in the life of the Christian believer.

As he studied these portions of the Bible, he came to view the use of terms such as penance and righteousness by the Catholic Church in new ways. He became convinced that the church was corrupt in their ways and had lost sight of what he saw as several of the central truths of Christianity, the most important of which, for Luther, was the doctrine of justification—God's act of declaring a sinner righteous—by faith alone through God's grace. He began to teach that salvation or redemption is a gift of God's grace , attainable only through faith in Jesus.

Luther came to understand justification as entirely the work of God. When God's righteousness is mentioned in the gospel, it is God's action of declaring righteous the unrighteous sinner who has faith in Jesus Christ.

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He explained his concept of "justification" in the Smalcald Articles :. The first and chief article is this: Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification Romans He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world John , and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all Isaiah 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 This is necessary to believe.


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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 A fourth untoward general feature is a sectarian bias that rears its head from time to time: e. Pseudo-Raymo of Halberstadt is charged with " strident His footing is unsteady even on friendlier Reform ground, however, as in his assertion that medieval theology was completely ignorant of Luther's imputational theory of justification since it relied on a " divine acceptation " theory Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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