Saturday, January 24, 2009

Justification: always forensic?


Some comments and ruminations posted yesterday, concerning the issue of justification, have prompted me to create a responsive thread. At de reginis duobus, Jason Stillman posted in the thread, Who Said That?, a quote he had, "heard…in a Protestant/Catholic debate involving Michael Horton". Jason does not tell he readers the name/place of the original debate, but once he mentioned Michael Horton’s name, I immediately was able to deduce the original source: What Still Divides Us? I own this entire debate in a cassette format produced by Basilica Press. On the back of the 8 tape album cover we read: “This debate took place at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California, on March 3 & 4, 1995, before a Protestant audience of 1,500.”

Research via Google revealed that the full debate is still available in various formats, through numerous providers (caveat emptor - costs vary significantly).

Interestingly enough, a transcript of Michael Horton’s opening statement on justification is also available under the title: Are We Justified By Faith Alone?.

Now that ‘due diligence’ has been carried out concerning the source of the quote provided by Jason, it is time to provide some resources and reflections on the subject matter.

First, Michael Horton’s opening statement has been thoroughly critiqued by Robert Sungenis at his Catholic Apologetics International site.

Second, the quote provided by Jason is highly selective; as such, it is misleading. The following is a brief compilation of some of my own research into this issue; the Protestant patristic scholar, Alister McGrath, penned the following observations:

…it will be clear that the medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification, where the Reformers departed from it…The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification – as opposed to its mode – must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum. (Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei, 1986 ed., pp. 1.185-187.)

He then asked the following queston: “For what reasons did the Reformers abandon the catholic consensus on the nature of justification?” (Ibid. 187.)

An important background to McGrath’s later assessment of the “reasons” was provided earlier:

Man’s righteousness, effected in justification, is regarded by Augustine as inherent rather than imputed, to use the vocabulary of the sixteenth century. A concept of ‘imputed righteousness’, in the later Protestant sense of the term, would be quite redundant within Augustine’s doctrine of justification, in that man is made righteous in justification. The righteousness which man thus receives, although originating from God, is nevertheless located within man, and can be said to be his, part of his being and intrinsic to his person. An element which underlies this understanding of the nature of justifying righteousness is the Greek concept of deification, which makes its appearance in later Augustinian soteriology. (Ibid., pp. 1.31, 32.)

But, did Augustine ‘get it wrong’? The consensus of the Protestant world (excluding Anabaptists/Mennonites) sure thought so. But this consensus is not nearly as large at it once was. Some recent/current scholars[1] are now convinced that the verb dikaoō has a causative/factitive/effective sense in Paul’s usage, and if they are correct, we can say we with confidence that Augustine did not ‘get it wrong’.

One current scholar goes so far as to conclude:

The various dikai- terms all refer to the same quality or effect of Jesus’ death on the believer. In other words, despite their grammatical distinctions, dikaiosunē, dikaios, dikaiōsis and even dikaioō all have the same sense; therefore, the rendering of dikaiosunē is “righteousness,” of dikaios, “righteous,” and of dikaioō, “make righteous. (Chris VanLandingham, Judgment & Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul, pp. 245, 246 – the entire chapter, “’Justification by Faith’—A Mistranslated Phrase and Misunderstood Concept”, pp. 242-332, is a must read.)

The Lutheran scholar, John Reumann (hearkening back to Melanchthon) maintains that dikaioō has a double sense: declarative and causative (see his, Righteousness in the New Testament, pp. 4-11.)

Further, a group of Finnish Lutheran scholars[2] are now recognizing the importance of deification in understanding the nature of justification, and are able to declare, “Lutherans can without difficulty argue that a Christian is both made righteous and also deified as a partaker of the divine nature”[3].

Even McGrath could write:

It is certainly true that Augustine speaks of the real interior renewal of the sinner by the action of the Holy Spirit, which he later expressed in terms of participation in the divine substance itself…God has given man the power both to receive and participate in the divine being. By this participation in the life of the Trinity, the justified sinner may be said to be deified. (Ibid., p. 1.32)

Though one must wait until Augustine to find a concrete reflection on the role that deification plays in justification, the doctrine of deification itself is quite prominent in many of the Church Fathers prior to Augustine. And though most are aware of the importance of deification in Orthodox thought, recent scholars are now identifying certain elements of deification in Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley.

To make a very long story short, Augustine’s take on justification certainly has Biblical warrant, and just might be spot-on.

Notes:

[1] See Theological Lexicon of the New Testament - by Ceslas Spicq, trans. & edited by James D. Ernest, pp. 1.337-343; Rereading Paul Together – edited by David Aune, pp. 83-86; Justificaton: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates – edited by Husbands and Treier, pp. 17-45; Justification by Faith in Catholic-Protestant Dialogue – by Anthony N.S. Lane, pp. 158-167, for some examples.
[2] See Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther – edited by Braaten and Jenson
[3] Ibid. p. 67.

[Two other excellent resources are the essays produced by Gerald Hiestand and Fr Alvin Kimmel.]

I think I shall end this post with a quote from Sacred Scripture:

The first to plead his case seems just, Until another comes and examines him. – Proverbs 18:17 (NASB)


Grace and peace,

David

16 comments:

Tim A. Troutman said...

Nice work.

John Bugay said...

David – Of course, the “fundamental discontinuity” is that the Reformers got it right.

Of course, you say, correctly, “…it will be clear that the medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification, where the Reformers departed from it…”

In the midst of the McGrath quote that you DO provide, is this statement: “The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of Justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo salutis [that is, the Protestants only separate these “notionally,” so as to describe them more accurately – it is understood that these function together, just as many had taught through history], the essential point is that a notional distinction is made where none had been acknowledged before.

But what you fail to tell your readers is that McGrath provides a long analysis of the history of the word group (Hebrew, Greek, and Latin), and that Augustine, not knowing Hebrew or Greek, GOT IT WRONG!!

After a long explanation of Hebrew word “sedaqa” – the “justice” of God, which carries a wholly legal/imputation connotation, and which is translated into dikaiosune in Greek, McGrath suggests that Augustine’s Latin word, “iustitia” is a permissible interpretation of the Greek word, it is wholly unacceptable as an interpretation of the Hebrew concept which underlies it.

So the “novum” which the Reformers introduced is essentially a correct exegesis of the language that Paul used in Romans and other places.

In fact, McGrath does not touch the early church commentators prior to Augustine (whose writings on justification took place in the context of his discussion with Pelagius). However, an analysis of the pre-Augustinian fathers, “Justification by Faith: A Patristic Doctrine,” by D.H. Williams (Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol 57, No 4, October 2006) traces the use of Pauline language through several of the Fathers.

“1 Clement contains quotations almost solely from the Hebrew Bible, yet exhibits a predominance of Pauline themes such as frequent reference to believers as God’s elect, the use of doxologies through the course of the letter and contentions that God’s faithful are made just by faith. (654)

“The Epistle to Diognetus manifests theological sensitivity to the relation between the sinfulness and powerlessness of the human condition before God, and our need for the righteousness of God. In this text there are no direct quotations from the Pauline epistles. Nevertheless, the writer speaks plainly of an inability to enter the kingdom of God according to our own worthiness or goodness. Our hope lies only in the saving power of God which was demonstrated by the ransoming of His righteous Son for our unrighteousness: ‘In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified, except in the Son of God alone? O Sweet exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous man, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!” (654)

Williams summarizes other pre-Augustinian writers, both those who use Pauline themes and language, and those who don’t.

Most notably, Victorinus taught salvation by grace through faith. “We are not saved by our own merits, as if by the works of the law, but only by the grace of God: It is by faith alone that brings justification and sanctification” (Commentary on Galatians ii.15-16).

Hilary of Poiters also wrote extensively about the Pauline theme of justification by faith, some 60 years prior to Augustine. Williams comments, “That this author, writing a commentary on Matthew, should use Paul’s language and concepts so frequently demonstrates that they are for him an indispensable factor for achieving an adequate understanding of how the sinner is made righteous.” (657)

Anbrosiaster also helped to effect “renewed interest in Pauline theology was already underway by the late 370’s. “Ambrosiaster says several times that this justification is an act of the Holy Spirit and that is what the believer receives…”

Contrary to the theme of your post, (and contrary to the spirit of it), the historical church, pre-Augustine, exhibited a mixture of the Pauline and non-Pauline understanding of justification. The corruption of language introduced by Augustine condemned the medieval church, “astonishingly faithful to the language of Augustine,” was a muddle, to which the Reformers applied a good bit of clear biblical exegesis.

David Waltz said...

Hi Tim,

Thanks much for your kind remarks, but it seems that John has taken issue with my original post; stay tuned...


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>Of course, you say, correctly, “…it will be clear that the medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification, where the Reformers departed from it…”

Me: Those are McGrath’s words, not mine.


>>In the midst of the McGrath quote that you DO provide, is this statement: “The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of Justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo salutis [that is, the Protestants only separate these “notionally,” so as to describe them more accurately – it is understood that these function together, just as many had taught through history], the essential point is that a notional distinction is made where none had been acknowledged before.

But what you fail to tell your readers is that McGrath provides a long analysis of the history of the word group (Hebrew, Greek, and Latin), and that Augustine, not knowing Hebrew or Greek, GOT IT WRONG!!>>

Me: You are correct, I did not relay McGrath’s “long analysis”, and did not do so for two important reasons: first, McGrath’s word group analysis is standard fair, he adds nothing to the traditional Lutheran/Reformed view on this issue; and second, he completely ignores scholarship which is contrary to his position.


>>After a long explanation of Hebrew word “sedaqa” – the “justice” of God, which carries a wholly legal/imputation connotation, and which is translated into dikaiosune in Greek, McGrath suggests that Augustine’s Latin word, “iustitia” is a permissible interpretation of the Greek word, it is wholly unacceptable as an interpretation of the Hebrew concept which underlies it.>>

Me: Chris VanLandingham, in his Judgment & Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul, devotes 90 pages it this very issue, and his research makes McGrath’s conclusion highly suspect.


>>So the “novum” which the Reformers introduced is essentially a correct exegesis of the language that Paul used in Romans and other places.>>

Me: Since VanLandingham, Hiestand, Kimmel, Sanders, Dunn, and so many other competent scholars disagree with you on “this very issue”, I cannot help but think that your conclusion is suspect.


>>In fact, McGrath does not touch the early church commentators prior to Augustine (whose writings on justification took place in the context of his discussion with Pelagius). However, an analysis of the pre-Augustinian fathers, “Justification by Faith: A Patristic Doctrine,” by D.H. Williams (Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol 57, No 4, October 2006) traces the use of Pauline language through several of the Fathers.

“1 Clement contains quotations almost solely from the Hebrew Bible, yet exhibits a predominance of Pauline themes such as frequent reference to believers as God’s elect, the use of doxologies through the course of the letter and contentions that God’s faithful are made just by faith. (654)

“The Epistle to Diognetus manifests theological sensitivity to the relation between the sinfulness and powerlessness of the human condition before God, and our need for the righteousness of God. In this text there are no direct quotations from the Pauline epistles. Nevertheless, the writer speaks plainly of an inability to enter the kingdom of God according to our own worthiness or goodness. Our hope lies only in the saving power of God which was demonstrated by the ransoming of His righteous Son for our unrighteousness: ‘In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified, except in the Son of God alone? O Sweet exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous man, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!” (654)

Williams summarizes other pre-Augustinian writers, both those who use Pauline themes and language, and those who don’t.>>

Me: Me: I have not read that article yet, but he seems to take the same position as Thomas Oden has in his The Justification Reader, a position few contemporary patristic scholars would endorse. I have dealt with 1 Clement, and the Epistle to Diognetus at length in THIS THREAD.

As for the pre-Reformation understanding of justification in general, Matthew Heckel’s essay (which, btw, I introduced to my readers in THIS THREAD), is a must read, and concludes with McGrath, Lane, and so many others that, “Luther's doctrine of justification sola fide was not a recovery but an innovation within the Western theological tradition.”


>>Contrary to the theme of your post, (and contrary to the spirit of it), the historical church, pre-Augustine, exhibited a mixture of the Pauline and non-Pauline understanding of justification.>>

Me: Uhhh…John, the theme of my post is the understanding of justification has not ALWAYS been in a forensic sense—you are actually agreeing with me on this in your above statement.


>>The corruption of language introduced by Augustine condemned the medieval church, “astonishingly faithful to the language of Augustine,” was a muddle, to which the Reformers applied a good bit of clear biblical exegesis.>>

Me: Once again, there is a growing group of scholars who do not think that Augustine introduced a “corruption”.


Grace and peace,

David

John Bugay said...

It doesn't surprise me that the "growing group of scholars" you listed all have in common an affinity for the "new" perspective on Paul.

Horton's "Covenant and Salvation" addresses all of this at length, and summarizing, he still writes, "The lexical definition of "justification" is "to be cleared in court," which, as Sanders has said above even in relation to the Old Testament, can be amply attested. That significant consensus can be reached on this point even among those who stand in some coritical relation to the Reformation interpretation demonstrates that we are quite far from witnessing the destruction of a forensic definition of justification." (124)

I'm not familiar with all the issues on that side of the argument. But there is a large and growing number of Reformed theologians looking at that issue:

http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/on-replying-to-moralists-2/

When I say “moralists” I mean primarily the doctrine that God justifies the sanctified because they are sanctified or that we are justified by grace and cooperation with grace. This is the bottom line of the NPP. Justification is re-defined into sociology and ecclesiology and our standing before God becomes contingent upon what happens within us and not, as the Protestants had it, on what happened for us.

I'm not concerned in the least with your "analysis". (Hah, "Sanders, Dunn, Kimel.... What a riot. It seems more and more to me to be another rabbit hole that Rome and Romanists are turning to, to save face and just simply to throw up another roadblock so that Catholics can throw up an an evasion in the face of the embarrassment that was Trent.)

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

You said:

>> It doesn't surprise me that the "growing group of scholars" you listed all have in common an affinity for the "new" perspective on Paul.>>

Me: Some do and some do not; your attempt to lump them all into the same ‘pool’ (i.e NPP) is erroneous.

>> I'm not concerned in the least with your "analysis". (Hah, "Sanders, Dunn, Kimel.... What a riot. It seems more and more to me to be another rabbit hole that Rome and Romanists are turning to, to save face and just simply to throw up another roadblock so that Catholics can throw up an an evasion in the face of the embarrassment that was Trent.)>>

Me: Well John, to each their own. Personally, when I examine someone else’s paradigm, I try to read their contributions within the context of their paradigm in as objective manner as is humanly possible; it seems that my approach is totally foreign to yours…


Grace and peace,

David

John Bugay said...

David -- I am no longer examining the Catholic "paradigm." I have totally rejected it, and I operate on the firm belief that epologists like yourself who are seeking to convert people to Catholicism are doing far more harm than good.

John Bugay said...

In fact, I think your "paradigm" of "examining" Protestantism is really a disingenuous cover to hide your true intentions.

David Waltz said...

Hell John,

You posted:

>> David -- I am no longer examining the Catholic "paradigm." I have totally rejected it, and I operate on the firm belief that epologists like yourself who are seeking to convert people to Catholicism are doing far more harm than good.>>

Me: A careful reading of my blog would yield to the reader the fact that I have never attempted to convert anyone to the RCC. Further, the majority of my posts are dedicated to addressing poor methodologies and double-standards that seem to plague many online apologists.

>> In fact, I think your "paradigm" of "examining" Protestantism is really a disingenuous cover to hide your true intentions.>>

Me: My true intention(s) is, and have always been, the pursuit of TRUTH. As new evidence(s) comes to me, I adjust my position—something it seems that you are unwilling to do at this point.


Grace and peace,

David

Matt said...

Another important point may be to note that, for the most part, the quotations from the Fathers set forth here are not necessarily in conflict with the Council of Trent.

Post-Tridentine theologians often acknowledged the polemic context of the Council and understood that it must be interpreted in that light. They also acknowledged the possibility of saying that we are justified by faith alone in a way keeping with the Catholic theological heritage but that it was best not to use this formulation given the possibility of it being misconstrued.

Domingo de Soto, a major theological advisor to the Council, argued that "faith alone" is a heresy if it is construed in such a way that it leaves behind hope and love. But he was aware that Luther's followers had already addressed this point, saying that faith proceeds from the will as much as from the intellect and that it includes a desire for God (which is part of what was meant by "charity" for Soto). At any rate, he said that this might not be heresy, only sloppy theology. He said that this amounted to a "stuffed definition" of faith.

And the Council itself, despite so many claims to the contrary, did not *unequivocally* condemn the sola fide formulation.

Consider the following:

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

Note that after the formulation of "justification by faith alone" is anathematized, the Council Fathers say "in such wise as to mean."

In all of these conversations, it is interesting to think about, given the differences in how terms are used, the canons of Trent still apply or ever applied in the first place. On this issue, Otto Pesch's essay in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Justification-Faith-Sixteenth-Century-Condemnations-Still/dp/0826408966/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233186897&sr=8-1:

is an amazing contribution. He goes canon by canon, explaining the target, account for the extent to which the condemned teaching was found in the work of that target (generally Luther), etc., etc.

Anyway, I wonder if, as a Catholic, one must hold that it is unacceptable to say that one is justified by faith alone, if they go on to say (as almost all Protestants do) that this faith is never alone. It may be confusing theology, but that does not make it heresy, right?

Just my two cents. Oh, by the way, thanks for your blog! Today, when I should be working on my dissertation, I spent 5 hours reading your posts. More than a breath of fresh air!

Pax!

Matt said...

Sorry for the circumlocutions and typos here. I need to proof my comments!

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Matt, I believe that Pope Benedict XVI said something along the lines of what you stated recently.

God bless!

David Waltz said...

Hello Matt,

Nice post; an excellent addition to my opening remarks. You wrote:

>>Another important point may be to note that, for the most part, the quotations from the Fathers set forth here are not necessarily in conflict with the Council of Trent.>>

Me: Agreed.

>>Post-Tridentine theologians often acknowledged the polemic context of the Council and understood that it must be interpreted in that light. They also acknowledged the possibility of saying that we are justified by faith alone in a way keeping with the Catholic theological heritage but that it was best not to use this formulation given the possibility of it being misconstrued.>>

Me: The JOINT DECLARATION, ANNEX, and The Gift of Salvation sure seem to confirm this. From the Annex we read:

==C) Justification takes place "by grace alone“ (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified „apart from works“ (Rom 3:28, cf. JD 25). "Grace creates faith not only when faith begins in a person but as long as faith lasts“ (Thomas Aquinas, S. Th.II/II 4, 4 ad 3).The working of God’s grace does not exclude human action: God effects everything, the willing and the achievement, therefore, we are called to strive (cf. Phil 2:12 ff). "As soon as the Holy Spirit has initiated his work of regeneration and renewal in us through the Word and the holy sacraments, it is certain that we can and must cooperate by the power of the Holy Spirit...“ (The Formula of Concord, FC SD II,64f; BSLK 897,37ff).==

>>Domingo de Soto, a major theological advisor to the Council, argued that "faith alone" is a heresy if it is construed in such a way that it leaves behind hope and love. But he was aware that Luther's followers had already addressed this point, saying that faith proceeds from the will as much as from the intellect and that it includes a desire for God (which is part of what was meant by "charity" for Soto). At any rate, he said that this might not be heresy, only sloppy theology. He said that this amounted to a "stuffed definition" of faith.

And the Council itself, despite so many claims to the contrary, did not *unequivocally* condemn the sola fide formulation.

Consider the following:

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

Note that after the formulation of "justification by faith alone" is anathematized, the Council Fathers say "in such wise as to mean."

In all of these conversations, it is interesting to think about, given the differences in how terms are used, the canons of Trent still apply or ever applied in the first place. On this issue, Otto Pesch's essay in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Justification-Faith-Sixteenth-Century-Condemnations-Still/dp/0826408966/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233186897&sr=8-1:

is an amazing contribution. He goes canon by canon, explaining the target, account for the extent to which the condemned teaching was found in the work of that target (generally Luther), etc., etc.>>

Me: Many of the books I own on justification quote from the above mentioned work; I really need to pick this book up, but my book allowance for this and next month is depleted.

>>Anyway, I wonder if, as a Catholic, one must hold that it is unacceptable to say that one is justified by faith alone, if they go on to say (as almost all Protestants do) that this faith is never alone. It may be confusing theology, but that does not make it heresy, right?>>

Me: In addition to the above documents which I believe supports your position, Fitzmyer in his commentary Romans (pp. 360, 361) points out that no less than 13 Catholic theologians prior to Luther mentioned sola fidei in a positive sense (including Augustine and Aquinas).

>>Just my two cents. Oh, by the way, thanks for your blog! Today, when I should be working on my dissertation, I spent 5 hours reading your posts. More than a breath of fresh air!>>

Me: Thank you so much for your kind comments Matt. It is nice to hear that some are seeing my musings in a positive light. (By the way, what is your dissertation on?)


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

>>Sorry for the circumlocutions and typos here. I need to proof my comments!>>

I feel your pain (grin). I get in a hurry all the time and commit all kinds of spelling and grammatical errors in the combox—unfortunately, the combox is unforgiving, for as you well know, it does not allow editing…

Anonymous said...

Matt asked us to consider the following:

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

Note that after the formulation of "justification by faith alone" is anathematized, the Council Fathers say "in such wise as to mean."

Filter Boy:
That is something to consider indeed. In private settings, I have cautiously ventured the speculation before that there is a sense in which Catholics could affirm both sola fide and sola scriptura.

After consideration of the words of the canon, it would seem that permission is granted in regards to sola fide. That was good work, Matt. Thanks. I won't forget it.

----------------

However, I must take issue with some personal charges John Bugay makes against the host of this blog:

"David -- I am no longer examining the Catholic "paradigm." I have totally rejected it, and I operate on the firm belief that epologists like yourself who are seeking to convert people to Catholicism are doing far more harm than good.

January 26, 2009 2:56 AM


John Bugay said...
In fact, I think your "paradigm" of "examining" Protestantism is really a disingenuous cover to hide your true intentions.

Filter Boy:
I have to disagree with John's psychoanalysis. I doubt that any of us can see into the soul of David Waltz, but since we are trying, I would have to acknowledge that I haven't encountered an "e-pologist" that seems more ready to abandon his attachment to the faith that he thinks is the most likely to be true.

Unlike John, as a Catholic, I am sometimes uncomfortable with how blithely David can examine anti-Catholic material without a trace of the indignation that wells up in my own soul.

Does David have an agenda here to hide all the doctrinal errors and historically foul things he knows about the Catholic Church? Does he only care to zealously promote the faith to which he is so desperately and passionately attached. I don't think so. I think he would be happy to be whatever he thinks is true.

The sorrow I would feel at coming to disbelieve in the Catholic faith is something that I think is foreign to the host of this blog. For that reason, I think his dispassionate questions and comments represent his true motive: Pursuit of truth wherever it leads. I think there is value in openly trying to convert souls and that would always be my ultimate aim. Far from seeing him as a kindred spirit in making converts, I have to wonder sometimes if our host isn't still searching himself!

I was dismayed with him for being "taken in" by John Darby almost a year ago. I couldn't read Darby without amazement that a Catholic (David) would seriously attempt to place himself within that paradigm. I would say that this is the most important thing that this blog reveals about the character of the host. He has the rare ability to think in the other person's shoes, no matter who it might be, and he knows the necessity of it.

In this, I fear not for anyone's Catholic faith, least of all my own. I must be sure that I dispassionately value truth more than any feelings of attachment to a religion. That is what David's blog inspires in me.

As those familiar with the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas know, we cannot begin to legitimately put forward the truth until we have objectively viewed error in its best light, with all its subtlety and brilliance of thought. Without doing this, we will always resort to viewing and portraying those who differ with us as stupid or wicked, as I think John Darby did in his career.

Only truth seekers are concerned, as the Angelic Doctor most notably was, to put forth all points of view in their best light. I believe our host has that gift to offer to those who are critical of his faith. Unfortunately, the critics frequently seem to have to resort to psychoanalysis when he insists, as did St. Thomas, in granting the same just disciplines to his own faith as he does to others.

Filter Boy

KAM said...

"I did not relay McGrath’s “long analysis”, and did not do so for two important reasons: first, McGrath’s word group analysis is standard fair, he adds nothing to the traditional Lutheran/Reformed view on this issue; and second, he completely ignores scholarship which is contrary to his position."

Should you ever revisit this post and comments, please explain this comment.

First, McGrath was the first I heard of the Latin/Greek difference in "justification". Who before him brings this up?

Second, on what aspect of McGrath's thesis does he ignore contrary scholarship?