Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Because I'm Feeling Ornery

Martin Luther said, " 'Justification by faith alone' is the doctrine on which the Church or individual stands or falls."

John Calvin said, " 'Justification by faith alone' is the hinge of the Reformation."

James the Lesser said, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."


Reid said...

Because I'm feeling ornery:

Does "justification" mean the same thing in each of these quotes? Or is the justifier the same in each case?

Why are you so ornery?

Lots of questions, but few answers! :)

Anonymous said...

Catholic scholar Hans Kung says that it is the difference between a forensic justification of faith (most Protestant thought) vs. the effective justification of faith (Catholicism).

"Protestants speak of a declaring just which includes a making just; and Catholics of a making just which supposes a declaring just. Is it not time to stop arguing about imaginary differences?" - Hans Kung, Justification pg. 203

I'm still trying to figure it out myself. But like this ecumenical approach.

Reid said...


Do you mean by "forensic" God's making us justified, and by "effective" our experience of justification by our acting just?

Again, more questions!

Scott said...

Anonymous, great Kung quote - thanks for sharing that.

Reid, yours is a good question. A question that goes along with it is How do you know what kind of justification the author is talking about? Does the context always make it clear, or do we often end up "clarifying" it by interpreting it according to the particular theological construct(s) we subscribe to? Do we always do this? Is there a way to get around doing it?

How do we read a text such as Acts 2.38, for instance? Do we start with the text or with our own theological constructs? So I might say, "You only have to believe to be saved, therefore Peter must be saying something different in this text." When, in fact, he may be meaning exactly what he's saying, but our construct does not allow us to understand it correctly.

That's an oversimplification, of course, and I'd welcome a better analysis.

Reid said...

Unfortunately I think we all start from our theological construct, whatever it might be (Catholic, Calvinistic, atheistic ...). I don't know that we can actually begin with a blank slate. So you ask a most important question (What is the author talking about?). The theological and hermeneutical discussions are fascinating, I think.

But I'd rather like to know why you're ornery (or hopefully were ornery - are you over it yet?). Why did you quote, or set up, two Protestant "saints" and then knock them over with James the Lesser? What's eatin' at you man?

Meg said...

Uh. If it's not faith, I'm up shit creek. I can't do enough to make up for how much I screw up.

Scott said...

Meg, justification is by faith. Please don't misread me as saying I've got to get myself there somehow. But, then, getting myself there is not where I think it's at anyway - more a wonderful by-product of a certain relationship. I do believe the relationship needs to be cultivated or it will die. Jesus said, "If you love me you will obey my commandments." He didn't say that if we loved Him we'd buy Him flowers and write Him poetry and continue to live however we pleased.

Reid, concerning theological constructs: If there are two differing interpretations of a text, where do I go for clarification? Are the essentials open to interpretation? Who would know how the apostles viewed the faith and what the apostles really taught and how the really lived? To me, my only recourse, is to read the early Fathers. If men who were discipled by the apostles believe a certain way about the Eucharist or Baptism, I feel that their testimony is compelling, more compelling than a 21st-century scholar's investigation into 1st-century culture. That is, perhaps, primarily what has gotten me where I am on my faith journey.

I'm sorry if either of these responses seems rushed or blunt or insensitive - they're not meant to be, but my daughter's crying and I've gotta run.