Wednesday, December 23, 2009

James Buchanan: Four major points of controversy regarding justification

There are four major points regarding justification, according to James Buchanan (Justification, p. 113-114): 1) “The nature of Justification …”; 2) “the ground of Justification …”; 3) “the means of Justification …”; 4) “the effect of Justification …” “Under one or other of these topics every question of any real importance on the subject of Justification may be conveniently ranked; and they were all involved in the great controversy between the Reformers and the Church of Rome.”
  • Nature: “…the fundamental error of the Church of Rome consisted in confounding [justification] with sanctification. … Justification, considered as an act of God, is the mere infusion, in the first instance, and the mere recognition, in the second, of a righteousness inherent in the sinner himself; and not an act of God’s grace, acquitting him of guilt, delivering him from condemnation, and receiving him into His favour and friendship” (pp. 114-115)
  • Ground: “…the fundamental error of the Church of Rome consisted in substituting the inherent righteousness of the regenerate, for the imputed righteousness of the Redeemer. … The merits of Christ were rather, according to their doctrine, the procuring cause of that regenerating grace by which we are made righteous; while the inherent personal righteousness which is thus produced, is the real proximate ground of our justification. … But that His righteousness imputed is the sole and all-sufficient ground of our justification, which neither requires nor admits of any addition being made to it in the shape either of suffering or obedience, and which is effectual, for that end, without the aid of any other righteousness, infused and inherent,--the strenuously denied.” (pp. 116-117).
  • Means: “… the fundamental error of the Church of Rome consisted in denying that we are justified by that faith which ‘receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation, as He is freely offered to us in the Gospel.’ They affirmed that we are justified, not simply by faith in Christ, for faith might exist where there is no justification, but by faith informed with charity, or love, which is the germ of new obedience;--that this faith is first infused by baptism, so as to delete all past sin,--original sin, in the case of infants, and both original and actual sin in the case of adults, duly prepared to receive it,--while it is restored or renewed, in the event of post-baptismal sin, by confession and absolution, which effectually deliver the sinner from all punishment, except such as is endured in penance, or in purgatory. … Accordingly faith, to which so much efficacy and importance are everywhere ascribed in Scripture, was, first of all, defined as a mere intellectual belief, or assent to revealed truth, such as an unrenewed mind might acquire in the exercise of its natural faculties, without the aid of divine grace, and described as having, in itself, no necessary connection with salvation, but as being only one of seven antecedent dispositions or qualifications, which always precede, in the case of adults, but are not invariably followed by, Justification” (p. 118-119).
  • Effect: “… the fundamental error of the Church of Rome consisted in holding, that it was neither so complete in its own nature, nor so infallibly secured, as to exempt him from the necessity of making some further satisfaction for sin, or to warrant the certain hope of eternal life” (p. 122).

No comments:

Post a Comment