Friday, October 23, 2009

James White: “he’s not really like the Pope”, so let me tell you what Trent really says…


In the early portion of the 10-22-04 Dividing Line webcast, our master “stalker”, James, takes a few minutes, yet once again, to cast some disparaging remarks at Dr. Francis J. Beckwith. The following is a selection from the program:


speaking of apostasy, ummmm, I was reading a brief article by Francis J. Beckwith this morning on his website: The Council of Trent did not deny forensic justification…(2:20ff.)

James goes on to tell us that Dr. Beckwith is “not really like the Pope”, and then, a bit later, informs his listeners that Dr. Beckwith’s interpretation of the 11th canon of the Council of Trent, “is a denial of Roman Catholic teaching on this subject.

In essence, James is saying that one should not to trust Dr. Beckwith’s assessment, but rather, one should trust a professional, anti-Catholic’s interpretation.

And further, James is also inferring that one should not trust a certain Evangelical scholar, whose specialty happens to be historical theology, because it just so happens that this scholar’s understanding of canon XI is almost identical to that of Dr. Beckwith’s. Note the following:

It is clear that this condemnation [in Canon XI] is aimed against a purely extrinsic conception of justification (in the Catholic sense of the term) — in other words, the view that the Christian life may begin and continue without any transformation or inner renewal of the sinner. In fact, the canon does not censure any magisterial Protestant account of iustificatio hominis, in that the initial (extrinsic) justification of humans is either understood (as with Melanchthon) to be inextricably linked with their subsequent (intrinsic) sanctification, so that the concepts are notionally distinct, but nothing more; or else both the extrinsic justification and intrinsic sanctification of humanity are understood (as with Calvin) to be contiguous dimensions of the union of the believer with Christ. (Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 3rd ed., p. 343.)

[BTW, I had posted this same quote in the combox (HERE) of an earlier thread at the Return to Rome blog.

So, ignore Dr. McGrath, and ignore the monumental document, Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (see THIS THREAD for links to JD and supporting documents)—just trust James’ take on the matter…


Grace and peace,

David (a neophyte “stalker”)

12 comments:

beach bum(mer) said...

"and ignore the monumental document, Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification"


I can assure you, most Lutherans I know already do and have ever since.

That is, sorry to say, this document is of no consequence whatsoever, not only to certain current Catholics but to Lutherans, too.

Thomas Aquinas said...

James White does not really understand what Beckwith is saying. He is claiming--relying on the text of Trent--that justification includes a forensic element. That is a common sense reading of Trent. Is White an idiot?

Interlocutor said...

Interesting. So Trent does not deny forensic justication, nor infused/inherent justification? This position sounds like it is affirming something like Contarini's duplex iustitia expressed in his epistle on justification and which he utilized in discussions at Regensburg, but which was known and rejected on the RC side there and leading up to and at Trent. (For more info this site has a lot of primary sources including a translation of the epistle and link to Gleason's book covering Regensburg fully online). And Davenant's treatise on justification (both volumes available fully on google books) interacts with Bellarmine's "Disputationes" extensively and Bellarmine doesn't seem to give much support for a view sympathetic to that position, so the post-Trent interpretations seem to be fairly in-line with the lead-up.

Now, although it was rejected by the crafters and defenders of Trent, that does not necessarily mean things couldn't still develop, as the thread on kepha's old blog with Trent and material sufficiency/partim-partim and the view expressed by Michael Liccione there showed - even if the promulgators and interpretations of the decrees were against a later developed and accepted views, the developed view can still be valid if consistent with the wording of the decrees as that is what is guided by the Spirit, not necessarily the perspectives driving the crafting of those words. However, even in this light, things seem muddied by Trent's use of "unica causa formalis" which seems to strike a blow at trying to read Trent as permitting imputation as being a grounds for justification.

David Waltz said...

Hi Interlocutor,

So nice to see you commenting again, you posted:

>>Interesting. So Trent does not deny forensic justication, nor infused/inherent justification?>>

Me: It certainly does not deny infused/inherent justification, and I, with McGrath, Lane, Dulles, Fitzmyer, and so many others, do not believe that it denies forensic justification either.

>>This position sounds like it is affirming something like Contarini's duplex iustitia expressed in his epistle on justification and which he utilized in discussions at Regensburg, but which was known and rejected on the RC side there and leading up to and at Trent. (For more info this site has a lot of primary sources including a translation of the epistle and link to Gleason's book covering Regensburg fully online). And Davenant's treatise on justification (both volumes available fully on google books) interacts with Bellarmine's "Disputationes" extensively and Bellarmine doesn't seem to give much support for a view sympathetic to that position, so the post-Trent interpretations seem to be fairly in-line with the lead-up.>>

Me: I am certainly no expert on the Regensburg Diet (nor the Regensburg Book), I side with Fitzmyer’s take, which basically affirms that God’s declares one just (forensic/extrinsic) who is truly just (inherent/intrinsic), and that this justification comes by grace alone through faith alone (correctly understood).

>>Now, although it was rejected by the crafters and defenders of Trent, that does not necessarily mean things couldn't still develop, as the thread on kepha's old blog with Trent and material sufficiency/partim-partim and the view expressed by Michael Liccione there showed - even if the promulgators and interpretations of the decrees were against a later developed and accepted views, the developed view can still be valid if consistent with the wording of the decrees as that is what is guided by the Spirit, not necessarily the perspectives driving the crafting of those words.>>

Me: This is my position.

>>However, even in this light, things seem muddied by Trent's use of "unica causa formalis" which seems to strike a blow at trying to read Trent as permitting imputation as being a grounds for justification.>>

Me: I agree. Though the JD certainly cleared away a lot of the ‘mud’, the water is not yet perfectly clear.

I highly recommend that you read A.N.S. Lane’s, “Justification by Faith”, for it touches on pretty much all of the issues mentioned in this thread.


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Thanks for the heads-up on Davenant’s work—have downloaded both volumes and will try to read them later this week.

tap said...

David, you know you've made it big when the Angelic Doctor See it fit to visit and comment on your site.

Matt said...

You would also enjoy Lainez's disputes on double justification which are available online (part of Disputationes Tridentinae). Well, I went back to get the link, and I couldn't find the version that was available. Sorry about that.

Also, Domingo de Soto's chapter in Bk. 2 of his De natura et gratia (which is available on Google Books) talks about double justificaiton as well.

Both of these guys were theologians at Trent. My sense is that their rejection of double justification is much more limited that we would think today. The position that they were rejecting is pretty unattractive not only to modern Catholics but, I suspect, most modern Protestants (and maybe some 16th century ones as well!)

Anyway, we'll see what comes of this...

Always great seeing these things being discussed!

Pax.

Matt said...

*than

Interlocutor said...

Hi Matt,
I've come across your occasional posts at beggars all as well and you seem well-versed in the Tridentine and post-Tridentine RC discussions on grace, justification, predestination and the like (surprised you have no blog!) - do you have some works you would recommend outside of the usual suspects such as Ozment, Oberman, McGrath, Jedin? Primary sources are great, as you mentioned above, but sadly not all of us have a command of Latin :) (which of course is quite a hurdle for studying these issues as so much remains untranslated, but perhaps there are some interesting treatises/sermons that have been translated into English).

Also, David, complete aside but just a suggestion - wondering if you wouldn't mind setting up some bibliography link where you could list out recommended works for various topics (soteriology, development, ecclesiology, etc.) Might be useful in helping set background info for certain posts or enhancing discussion (for example, your recommendation of Lane's work definitely looks promising from what I've come across thus far). But could also be a hassle trying to think through all that so just an idea :)

Matt said...

Well, there isn't much, at least that I know about. I would try to dig through the works of Richard Muller (Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics) for references to Banez. Catholic Encyclopedia (the new version would be better, but not as easily accessible) has a decent article on De Auxiliis, though it is rather biased towards Molinism. There are occasionally articles in Nova et Vetera (the American version), which, for whatever reason, defend Banezianism. Alfred Freddoso (Notre Dame) has translated some of Molina and Suarez, has discussed Banez, but defends Molinism...

The problem, though, is that the vast, vast majority of these conversations are about predestination. Justification was discussed in very interesting ways, but it is not central, for whatever reason, to the historiography... I hope that will change in the relatively near future!

Let me know if that helps at all.

David Waltz said...

Hi Matt,

First, I would like to apologize for not responding to your 10/30/09 post; but in my defense, the Blogger email notification system has been ‘hit-and-miss’ the last couple of months. I was not notified of your 10/30 post, but did get a notice of your 11/2 post (though not Interlocutor’s 11/2 post). Needless to say, it is a bit frustrating…

Second, thanks much for the resource recommendations; I was able to locate and download Lainez's Disputationes Tridentinae, but all the editions of Domingo de Soto's De natura et gratia at “Google Books” were “No preview available” only (perhaps you have a link?)

And third, in the book I earlier recommended to Interlocutor, Justification By Faith in Catholic-Protestant Dialogue, Dr. Lane has a section on “The Colloquies” (pp. 46-60) that is worth reading; he also has a chapter in Justification: What's At Stake In The Current Debates, “Twofold Righteousness: A Key To the Doctrine of Justification” (ch. 8), that both you and Interlocutor should find useful.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Interlocutor,

Thanks for the suggestion of a “bibliography link”; I have thought about undertaking this task many times in the past—the result of my reflections on this matter is all too apparent…but then, I am just a crazy beachbum! (Grin) Seriously though, I do need to get to work on a “bibliography link” for a number of important topics; hopefully later this month, the Lord willing.

For now, here are few more recommendations (in addition to Dr. Lane’s book) on justification with a Catholic/Protestant emphasis in mind:


Justification: What's At Stake In The Current Debates; Rereading Paul Together; Justification By Faith – Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII; Engrafted into Christ – A Critique of the Joint Declaration; Reconciliation and Justification.


Grace and peace,

David

Matt said...

No problem!

Here's Soto. Google books is kind of weird sometimes. Someone needs to set up an organized database of this stuff... :-)

http://books.google.com/books?id=OhsCbx2rMm4C&pg=RA1-PA175&dq=De+natura+et+gratia&as_brr=1&ei=T3HwSs6uIKLqygS0gIGPCA&hl=it#v=onepage&q=&f=false

One book has a great essay by Otto Pesch which is very relevant to this discussion with Interlocutor. It goes decree by decree and canon by canon in session 6. It shows what the canon, say, was intending to condemn, it talks about how closely this "condemned position" fit with Luther's actual position, then it addresses how that condemned position did or did not align with later Lutheran orthodoxy. Really interesting stuff!

The essay in this book, which I discovered that I've posted here before. Sorry about that!

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:

Pax.