Friday, December 25, 2009

R.L. Dabney: Justification is central to all doctrines of theology

R.L. Dabney explains the central importance of justification within history (Reformation vs. Romanism) and within Christian theology (the person and work of Christ, the nature of the Triune God, how man is right with God, and so forth):

It is obvious to the first glance, that it is a question of the first importance to sinners, ‘How shall man be just with God?’ The doctrine of justification was the radical principle, as we have seen, out of which grew the Reformation from Popery. It was by adopting this that the Reformers were led out of darkness into light. Indeed, when we consider how many of the fundamental points of theology are connected with justification, we can hardly assign it too important a place. Our view of this doctrine must determine, or be determined by our view of Christ’s satisfaction; and this, again, carries along with it the whole doctrine concerning the natures and person of Christ. And if the proper deity of Him be denied, that of the Holy Spirit will very certainly fall along with it; so that the very doctrine of the Trinity is destroyed by extreme views concerning justification. Again, "It is God that justifieth." How evident, then, that our views of justification will involve those of God’s law and moral attributes? The doctrine of original sin is also brought in question, when we assert the impossibility of man’s so keeping the law of God, as to justify himself. It is a more familiar remark, that the introduction of the true doctrine of justification excludes that whole brood of Papal inventions, purgatory and penance, works of supererogation, indulgences, sacrifice of the mass, and merit of congruity acquired by alms and mortifications. (R.L. Dabney, Systematic Theology, ch. 23: Justification)

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