Saturday, September 27, 2008

Development, Justification/Soteriology and the Early Church Fathers


During this past week, three new threads, by Dr. Michael Liccione, concerning the development of doctrine (DD), have been posted at Philosophia Perennis: FIRST ; SECOND ; THIRD.These three new threads have, to date, generated some 92 comments. The level of the content and dialogue is quite high, and intellectually stimulating; as such, I would like to recommend all three threads to those with any interest in DD.

Obviously, these new threads have caused yours truly to reflect a bit further on DD. Rather than duplicate the material that has already been presented, I would like to explore a specific facet of DD, the development of the doctrine justification, and how it raises some serious questions concerning sola scriptura and perspicuity. I shall begin my foray into this topic by asking three questions: first, what line of development did the early post-apostolic Church proceed on; second, how does this direction relate to the original revelatory deposit; and third can 21st century Christians gain some important insights on how this development took place.

What line of development did the early post-apostolic Church proceed on?

Two dominant themes are to be found in the early Church Fathers concerning justification/soteriology: interior regeneration of the believer, and the ex opera operato nature of the sacraments. One is at a loss to find a line of development that proceeds along the line of “salvation by faith alone, through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness alone”—such a line of development did not exist, and does not appear until the 16th century (A.N.S. Lane postulates that Bernard of Clairvaux may be an exception). Many patristic scholars are keenly aware of this historical fact (e.g. Alister McGrath, A.N.S. Lane, Jaroslav Pelikan , Thomas F. Torrance, H.E.W. Turner, William Cunningham), however some contemporary Reformed apologists are not comfortable with this, and have attempted to read post-Reformation developments into some of the early Church Fathers. Before I proceed any further, the very nature of the question I am fleshing out demands that I address this recent polemic. One representative of this school of thought is James R. White. Mr. White delineated his position in his book, The God Who Justifies (Bethany House, 2001). In an attempt to avoid charges of misrepresentation, I shall provide copious quotations from the book to establish Mr. White’s position:

SO WHAT ABOUT THE EARLY CHURCH?

There are only a few valid contextual citations—that is, citations that are fair to the context of the author and the author’s expressed beliefs and theology—that can be mustered in reference to justification by grace through faith alone in the writings of the early church. Ironically, one is from one of the earliest non-scriptural writings, traditionally identified with Clement, bishop of Rome, around the turn of the first century. The work more probably produced by the elders of the church at Rome (the monarchical or one-man episcopate did not develop until the middle of the second century, so the church at Rome at that time would have been led by a group of elders, as is the biblical pattern), speaks often of God’s work of saving His elect people. In section 32, the epistle makes this bold statement:


Therefore, all these were glorified and magnified, not because of themselves, or through their own works, or for the righteous deeds they performed, but by His will. And we also, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by means ourselves, nor by our own wisdom or understanding or godliness or works which we have done in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which the Almighty God has justified all those believing from the beginning. To whom be glory for ever and ever, amen.

This statement is surely in harmony with orthodox Protestant understanding of justification, and it can only be made to fit other systems by some imaginative (and anachronistic) redefinition of the terms.(TGWJ, p. 130.)

And:

In another very orthodox (i.e. biblically based) reference, the anonymous author (sometimes called Mathetes, the Greek term for “disciple”) writes to Diognetius[sic] and explains the leading elements of the Christian faith. In section 9 the author shows the depth of his familiarity with the writings of the apostle Paul:


This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Savior who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life.


Aside from these brief glimpses into a period when apostolic teaching continued without philosophical and traditional accretions, most of the discussion one finds of the topic is either based upon considerations far removed from the biblical text or is so shallow and surface-level as to give the reader no real insight into the beliefs of the author.(TGWJ, pp. 130, 131.)


First off, I have attempted to pin down the English translation of the text utilized by Mr. White, but alas, among the 9 translations of Clement (Lake, Richardson, Sparks, Kleist, Staniforth, Lightfoot, Grant, Glimm, Roberts & Donaldson), that I possess within my library, none matched Mr. White’s text. And unfortunately, he does not tell his readers which translation he used (it may, in fact, be he own).

Second, Mr. White’s remarks that the above selection from Clement “is surely in harmony with orthodox Protestant understanding of justification, and it can only be made to fit other systems by some imaginative (and anachronistic) redefinition of the terms” is highly suspect; one will gain an entirely different outlook from the following patristic scholars:

It is obvious that in asserting justification by faith Clement was simply reproducing Paul’s idea without appreciating what it involved, and that he really agreed with the other Christians of his day that salvation is to be had only by obeying God and his will. That the early Christians should have departed from Paul in this matter is not surprising at all. (Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1. 85.)

The fundamental idea at the back of the words dikaiosunē, dikaioumai seems to be the moral qualification which avails before God conceived as a quality of the soul. That is achieved by faith which is fear of God working itself out in obedience. And so Clement can say that we are “justified by works, not by words” ergois dikaioumenoi, mē logois, and insists that we are not justified by pistis alone but by pistis and eusebeia, by pistis and philozenia, by pistis and alētheia. (Thomas F. Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace In the Apostolic Fathers, p. 49 – note: I have transliterated the Greek for my readers.)

…while sometimes Clement speaks in the very tones of Paul, as for instance on justification by faith (ch. 32:4), his leading convictions are somewhat different…Clement has moved away from the Pauline gospel into an atmosphere more concerned with moral life, and in particular with virtues of humility and order. Where ethical injunctions are secondary to Paul’s letters, they are primary in Clement. (Cyril C. Richardson, Early Christian Fathers, p, 38.)

And Clement himself wrote:

Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us. For it is written, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him, and in whose mouth there is no guile.” (ch. 50, Donaldson & Roberts trans. – in ANF 1.18, 19.)

[Also: “Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.” (ch. 30 – ANF 1.13); “We see, then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength.” (ch. 33) – ANF 1.14; “Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love beareth all things, is long-suffering in all things. There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love. Love admits of no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony. By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well-pleasing to God.” (ch. 49 – ANF 1.18.]

IMHO, an objective reading of Clement’s ENTIRE epistle to the Corinthians forces one to reject Mr. White's assessment; Clement is not a proto-Protestant; but rather, he is a proto-Catholic.

Now to The Epistle To Diognetus. Once again, Mr. White did not inform his readers whose English translation he was citing/using. However, unlike the Clement passage, I was able to find the actual source: Donaldson & Roberts translation – in ANF 1.28.

We know Mr. White’s position on this selection from the epistle, but what do patristic scholars have to say? The most definitive study of the epistle to date is Henry G. Meecham’s, The Epistle To Diognetus – The Greek Text With Introduction, Translation, and Notes (Manchester Univ. Press, 1949). Note what Meecham wrote:

By righteousness of the Son man’s sins are ‘covered’ (see note on ix. 3). “In that righteousness we are justified. The Pauline term is used, but the meaning has become much less forensic. The thought is not that of an externally imputed righteousness, but of a real change in the sinful heart of man, and the writer seems to feel that the righteousness of Christ actually becomes ours” (Grensted). (Page 25.)

Now, when one takes into consideration the rest of writings of the early Church Fathers who wrote on the doctrine of justification/soteriology, I believe that one is forced to conclude with Dr. McGrath, “that there are no ‘Forerunners of the Reformation doctrines of justification’”; and that the Reformation understanding of justification was “a genuine theological novum (Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei, vol. 1, p. 187 – 1986 ed.). [For a very recent informative study on the doctrine of justification in the early Church see Thomas P. Scheck’s, Origen and the History of Justification, (2008).]


More on the line of development of the early post-apostolic Church in my next thread, the Lord willing.


Grace and peace,

David

14 comments:

Mike L said...

David:

Thanks for the blurb and the thoughts.

The key difference between Luther's DD on justification and the Catholc Church's DD in general is that Luther consciously substituted his own hermeneutic— fashioned in terms of his "canon with the canon" based on Romans and Galatians—for the Church's in order to get his results. That entailed negation of what the Great Tradition had attained in both East and West. Authentic development can never entail negation of what has been previously taught with the Church's full authority.

Best,
Mike

Interlocutor said...

Important to remember that the doctrine of justification was not clearly defined leading up to Trent, as McGrath notes in The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation:

"…an astonishingly broad spectrum of theologies of justification existed in the later medieval period, encompassing practically every option that had not been specifically condemned as heretical by the Council of Carthage. In the absence of any definitive magisterial pronouncement concerning which of these options (or even what range of options) could be considered authentically catholic, it was left to each theologian to reach his own decision on this matter. A self perpetuating doctrinal pluralism was thus an inevitability. The point is of importance for a number of reasons. First it can be shown that Luther’s theological breakthrough involved his abandoning one specific option within the broad spectrum of theologies of justification, and embracing another within that spectrum. In other words, Luther’s initial position of 1513-1514, and his subsequent position (probably arrived at in 1515), were both recognized contemporary theological opinions, regarded as legitimate by the doctrinal standards of the time."

And during session 6 of Trent where justification was discussed, bishops themselves were quite at odds with each other, some adopting a very close concept of sola fide, although the Jesuit contingent won the day. So if all these theories were floating around, and sola fide was actually being considered as an option by Trent's representatives, it's not just obvious that the Trent formulation is the only logical valid development.

David Waltz said...

Hello Mike (Dr. Liccione, I presume [grin]),

What a pleasant surprise to see you show up here at AF; sincerely hope to ‘see’ more of your presence in the future…

You posted:

>>The key difference between Luther's DD on justification and the Catholc Church's DD in general is that Luther consciously substituted his own hermeneutic— fashioned in terms of his "canon with the canon" based on Romans and Galatians—for the Church's in order to get his results.>>

Me: Two points on this: first, I have read more than one author who comments that Catholic theologians have a tendency to give priority to the Gospels, while Protestants to Paul’s epistles; second, the notion of a ‘canon within the canon’ sure seems to be a principal that pretty much all exegetes/theologians are forced to adopt to one degree or another as soon as one attempts to create a ‘systematic’ theology (non-Lutherans tend to term the principal as ‘scripture interprets scripture’, which, of course, means that the so-called ‘clear’ passages interpret the not so ‘clear’ ones).

>>That entailed negation of what the Great Tradition had attained in both East and West. Authentic development can never entail negation of what has been previously taught with the Church's full authority.>>

Me: Interlocutor in his response argues that prior to Trent, there was no “definitive magisterial pronouncement” concerning the “astonishingly broad spectrum of theologies of justification”. Though I personally would not use the phrase, “astonishingly broad” to describe the theological landscape of the “later medieval period”, concerning the doctrine of justification, there certainly existed some clear diversity. But, this is to be expected, given the fact that theological diversity precedes pretty much all conciliar decrees. So the real question that needs to be asked is: Did Trent get it right? And with you, I too, “have become convinced that DD is the issue separating traditional Christians from each other on the question of the nature of orthodoxy.” (SOURCE.)

In ending, perhaps all of us need to ask: Which theory of DD will best aid Christ’s followers in achieving that lofty goal that He emphasized in His prayer to the Father, “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:21 – NAS).


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Interlocutor,

So good to see you back at AF. Your post certainly brings to the fore some important issues, least of which is:

>>… if all these theories were floating around, and sola fide was actually being considered as an option by Trent's representatives, it's not just obvious that the Trent formulation is the only logical valid development.>>

Me: This is true, but the same can be said of all the dogmatic formulations of the previous Ecumenical Councils, and hence, THE dilemma for those who accept some of those previous formulations, but then reject the subsequent ones.

[BTW, as for sola fide, many Catholic theologians affirm the concept when properly nuanced—e.g. Thomas Aquinas, Karl Rahner, signers of the ANNEX to the JD.]


Grace and peace,

David

Iohannes said...

I tend to think justification is a second order doctrine. It is not unimportant; indeed, it lies very much near the center of the gospel, but it is not itself the center, which is prior to it--union with Christ. Incorporation into the body of Christ is what brings us all the benefits of redemption, one of which (some might say the preeminent) is justification.

The key issue that put Calvin and Hooker on one side, and Trent on the other, is often poorly understood today. As (now retired episcopal bishop of SC) FitzSimons Allison has shown, this issue was the specific question of the formal cause of justification. Most everyone at the time of the Reformation agreed that one of the benefits of redemption is infused righteousness and internal renewal. What divided Rome and Protestants was how to relate this to justification. Rome at Trent (after coming very close to a compromise at Ratisbon where one of its representative was Contarini who took a view on justification remarkably close to Calvin's) made infused righteousness the sole formal ground of justification, which was in effect to put forward the idea that the believer's own Christ-imparted righteousness is in the strict (condign) sense what merits his salvation. Calvin and other Reformers disagreed and argued that although there is indeed an infused righteousness, it is separate from justification. Justification, they said, is based simply on the fact that, being incorporated into Christ by faith, the believer is one with Christ in so real and intimate a sense that what is Christ's is in truth also his own--the believer thus shares in Christ's life and obedience, culminating in the Savior's death on the cross, and then the triumphant vindication of his resurrection.

I sometimes wonder whether imputation draws the reactions it does today because of its prodigious Latinity. It's not a word we use in every day speech. But in the scheme above, imputation means simply that because we are in Christ in a real sense (and not just as a legal fiction), what is Christ's is justly also reckoned as ours, including Christ's perfect righteousness. The Lord is our righteousness in the fullest sense. And that we draw this one particular benefit from union with Christ, namely that our forgiveness and acceptance with God is founded solely on Christ's righteousness (which is in an important sense external to us but still really ours), does not exclude the fact that we receive other benefits from Christ, including the infusion of the principle of new life in our souls and growth in grace through the work of Spirit, especially by the regular and ordinary means of the word, the sacraments, and prayer. These two benefits go hand in hand; as Calvin said, Christ is like the Sun, which radiates both light and heat--two benefits that though distinguishable in our experience are yet always joined together.

Anyhow, I don't mean to say a lot here, and have probably written too much already (Dr. L. has already called me out for being too lengthy). The main point I would make is that there are different ways of presenting the Reformers' understanding of justification. If we present it in a way like the above, we can see more easily how what the Reformers taught fits in with the pre-Reformation tradition. I would venture to say that neither the Tridentine nor the Reformed view on justification has unambiguous support from Christian theology prior to the Reformation. The question simply hadn't come up yet; which is perfectly reasonable, if justification is a kind of second order doctrine.

As a parting thought, I'd recommend a comment Dr Witt has made before:

Was the Reformers’ understanding of justification a novelty? Yes, in the sense that it was a genuine development, in the same way as Athanasius’ introduction of homoousios was a genuine development. The pre-Nicene fathers had tended to be subordinationist. Athanasius showed that subordinationism was incompatible with affirming the true deity of Christ. After Athanasius’ insight, it was really impossible to embrace subordinationism without compromising the deity of Christ. Similarly, once Luther arrived at his insight into the meaning of Paul’s use of forensic justification language, it was really impossible any longer to continue to conflate Christ’s alien righteousness with my own (albeit infused) righteousness.

Best,

John

Iohannes said...

In ending, perhaps all of us need to ask: Which theory of DD will best aid Christ’s followers in achieving that lofty goal that He emphasized in His prayer to the Father, “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:21 – NAS).

FWIW, I completely agree with this suggestion.

interlocutor said...

Hi David,
"the same can be said of all the dogmatic formulations of the previous Ecumenical Councils, and hence, THE dilemma for those who accept some of those previous formulations, but then reject the subsequent ones."

Right, but when you consider things from the patristic angle, wouldn't you think that many of the RC theologians approaching (or even embracing) sola fide up to Trent were probably decently versed in the fathers as well? And yet they didn't think the ecf's statements completely precluded their view on the matter? As you've said before, pre-Nicene theology was close to, if not pretty much completely, subordinationist, so if Nicea had adopted a subordinationist perspective, if one is using patristic witness as a guidepost in development, that certainly seems like it could have been valid. The EO view of justification does not match the RC view, and the EO certainly could make a strong case from the fathers I think you would agree.

You may think Chemnitz and other Reformers unfairly used the ecfs in support of their view of justication, but the counterclaim would be they are merely trying to find *traces* of sola fide, and that there's a difference between explicitly denying a doctrine versus being open to correction or being inconsistent/holding varying views on it (which is I believe David King's perspective as I posted before). I guess if you're viewing development from purely a historical perspective, then I don't see it's the case that sola fide is easily and necessarily ruled out. But if you tie development to theological paradigms, then it becomes a different question.

Kind of an aside, I wonder if Jerome's mistranslations (such as "do penance") had a substantial impact on the development in the west?

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

Sincerely appreciate your insightful post. As for the length, IMHO it certainly was not verbose; I found the content to be well worded, and cogent.

I think you were spot-on in identifying the core issue between Catholics and the magisterial Reformers (concerning justification) by writing:

>>Calvin and other Reformers disagreed and argued that although there is indeed an infused righteousness, it is separate from justification.>>

For Catholics (and the EO) the interior renewal and union with Christ (deification) truly makes us righteous; this, and the forgiveness of ALL sin/s, allows us to stand in God’s ‘court’ no longer as condemned sinners, but rather, as redeemed, adopted Sons of God. Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteous by infusion, rather than via mere imputation. Are the two principals diametrically opposed? Can the two be somehow reconciled? Unfortunately, I feel that the answer/s to these questions is beyond the scope of my expertise, though the colloquies of Regensburg do come to mind…

If you have the time, and desire, I would be interested in any further thoughts you may have on this matter.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Interlocutor,

Thanks for your further reflections. I cannot help but think, once again, that the “key” to the issue of which paradigm is the ‘true’ one, is directly tied to ones theory of DD—get DD ‘right’, and you will identify the correct paradigm.


>>Kind of an aside, I wonder if Jerome's mistranslations (such as "do penance") had a substantial impact on the development in the west?>>


I found Gerald Hiestand’s blog post, THE MEANING OF DIKAIOO, quite informative; here is a portion from his article:

“Further, McGrath is incorrect in his contention that Augustine’s dependency on Latin—and thus the ontologically ladened Latin expression iustificare as a translation of the Greek dikaioo—caused Augustine to mistakenly read a transformative sense into Paul’s doctrine of justification that wasn’t originally present in the Greek (see Iustitia Dei, 12-16). But Augustine’s iustificare had a semantic range that allowed for a strictly declarative sense (see On the Spirit and the Letter, ch. 45). Augustine interpreted iustificare in a transformative sense because this was how he understood the term to be used in Scripture, and because this is how most of the early church fathers before him understood Paul’s doctrine of justification. Augustine had the tools to interpret iustificare in a declarative sense, and even did so on some occasions. But he chose not to do so in relation to the bulk of Paul’s letters.”


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Interlocutor,

Just thought of an older THREAD I started back in 03/30/07 in which I discuss some aspects of justification in the thought of Augustine—think you might find it somewhat interesting…


Grace and peace,

David

Iohannes said...

Hello David,

I hope you have been doing well. It had been a little while since I last heard from you over at Conscious Faith or elsewhere.

For Catholics (and the EO) the interior renewal and union with Christ (deification) truly makes us righteous; this, and the forgiveness of ALL sin/s, allows us to stand in God’s ‘court’ no longer as condemned sinners, but rather, as redeemed, adopted Sons of God. Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteous by infusion, rather than via mere imputation. Are the two principals diametrically opposed? Can the two be somehow reconciled?

I'm no expert, but I believe they can be reconciled. Calvin's doctrine of the duplex gratia is very similar to the view Cardinal Contarini espoused. Calvin would say that Christ's righteousness becomes ours by both imputation and infusion, but with imputation as the proper ground of justification. Contarini appears to state the reason for this belief as well as did any of the Reformers. Unfortunately, Trent appears to have reacted specifically against the proposals of people like Contarini. Trent specified infused righteousness as the unica causa formalis, the single formal cause, which seems directly to have repudiated any attempts at compromise that would have taken in both imputed and infused righteousness.

BTW, regarding deification, you might enjoy these thoughts on 2 Peter 1:4:

...he then shews the excellency of the promises, that they make us partakers of the divine nature, than which nothing can be conceived better.

For we must consider from whence it is that God raises us up to such a height of honor. We know how abject is the condition of our nature; that God, then, should make himself ours, so that all his things should in a manner become our things, the greatness of his grace cannot be sufficiently conceived by our minds. Therefore this consideration alone ought to be abundantly sufficient to make us to renounce the world and to carry us aloft to heaven. Let us then mark, that the end of the gospel is, to render us eventually conformable to God, and, if we may so speak, to deify us.


That's none other than Calvin, writing in his commentary on 2 Peter.

God bless,

John

David Waltz said...

Hey John,

Thanks much for getting back to me so quickly, and thanks for the Contarini link. (BTW, A.N.S. Lane has some good material on Contarini in his Justification By Faith, and mentions a book I really need to get a hold of, Cardinal Contarini at Regensburg, by P. Matheson.)

As for Calvin and 2 Peter 1:4, I cite the latter portion of the quote you provided in a book I have been working on (off and on for about 5 years now, more off than on [grin]).


Grace and peace,

David

interlocutor said...

Cool, David. Yes, I did not mean to really focus on Augustine (though I will still read that thread) - I remember you had that post with Heckel's essay a while back that argued Augustine's theology simply cannot accommodate sola fide and he makes a strong case (btw just discovered heckel has a (infrequently updated) blog). But since Augustine obviously had a dominant influence on western development, his thought is key but he wasn't the only one who wrote on soteriology and grace of course. And one must also consider the wide variety of views of soteriology before Trent that McGrath alludes to, some of which were not faithful to Augustine and approached semi-pelagianism (I believe McGrath attributes this partly to the canons of orange being lost for a great period of time) - there doesn't seem to be a gradual upward curve from augustine/carthage/orange to Trent, but rather an erratic movement with peaks and valleys.

I have not yet read the huge development threads from last month, so apologies if this may have been covered there, but leaving aside paradigms/frameworks and just examining the development of soteriology/justification just as the history of an idea like any non-theological idea, would you agree with iohannes that "neither the Tridentine nor the Reformed view on justification has unambiguous support from Christian theology prior to the Reformation" and that the EO, RC, Reformed, Lutheran views (I distinguish R/L in the same way as RC/EO - similar but definitely enough differences/nuances to warrant distinction) could be considered logical/plausible derivations/consequences from seeds in history?

David Waltz said...

Hello Interlocuter,

Before I begin commenting on your last post, I want to make sure that I ask for Heckel’s blog address before I forget—I sure would like to take a gander at it…

You posted:

>>would you agree with iohannes that "neither the Tridentine nor the Reformed view on justification has unambiguous support from Christian theology prior to the Reformation" and that the EO, RC, Reformed, Lutheran views (I distinguish R/L in the same way as RC/EO - similar but definitely enough differences/nuances to warrant distinction) could be considered logical/plausible derivations/consequences from seeds in history?>>

My ‘comfort zone’ concerning dogmatic development from primary sources pretty much ends with the close of the 5th century, and starts up again with the 16th. My knowledge of development between the two relies pretty much on secondary sources (with the notable exception of Thomas Aquinas). So, I just don’t feel qualified at this point in my studies to take a definitive stance on the questions you raised.

If either you, or John (or anyone else reading this post) are aware of some individuals who are truly up to the task, perhaps with some encouragement we could get them to comment on your questions.

Wish I could be of more help…


Grace and peace,

David