Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, August 30, 2010

Excerpt from Mike Horton's Interview with Roman Catholic Apologist Robert Sungenis

[To read the entire article you have to sign up for a 30 day free trial of Modern Reformation magazine.  I'm not allowed to post the entire article here due to copyrights.  Click on Modern Reformation to view the site where the article may be accessed.  Horton's questions are in bold and Sungenis' responses are in plain text.]

What is the classic formulation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification today?

If you say "classic," then that would be from the Tridentine doctrine, and that was the last dogmatic council we had on justification. Vatican II and its aftermath doesn't claim to have any dogmatic statement on justification. All it does is reiterate what the Council of Trent said, and you can tell that by the footnotes in the Catechism when you read it.

Could you summarize that understanding of justification for us?

There are 32 canons in the Council of Trent. On the one hand, as I said, the first canon says that by no works of the law or any work done by man in his moral disposition can he attain justification. Justification is given by the grace of God. Faith is the beginning of the justification, and that's in chapter eight of Trent. That is, that's the root of all justification. That's where it starts. In order to get into the grace of God, you have to have faith in God. Once you have the faith-and the Roman Catholic Church says that's a gift of the Holy Spirit as well-it's not something that you alone generate by yourself; it's you cooperating with God that allows you to have faith. That is, you have faith and works that are under God's grace, and both of those are looked at by God as things that he requires you to do, and he blesses those. As long as you remain in the faith and keep doing the works, then you remain in the justification. The Catholic church also believes that if you do not do the works, that is, you sin, then you can lose your justification. And you can regain your justification if you repent of your sin and come back into the grace of God.
So, would that hold for individual sins? If I committed a sin at one o'clock, would I be unjustified until I had opportunity to confess it to a priest?

Depends on the seriousness of the sin. I like to use the example that Paul uses in Romans 4 where he talks about David. He says that David was a man who was justified by his faith without doing works, but if you look at the life of David, what we find is that David was a man of God long before he had committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murder with Uriah the Hittite. So if David is saying that he repented of his sin, and thereby was justified at that point in time, that means he had been justified prior to that and lost his justification, and now because he's repented of his sins (murder and adultery), he has regained his justification. So, in your example, the sin at one o'clock would be David's sins of adultery and murder, and then as he repents, he gets his justification restored to him.

What is the state of the debate these days in Roman Catholic circles in interpreting justification in the Greek, dikaioo/dikaiosis, and the Latin, iustificare? I'm thinking here of Joseph Fitzmyer, who says that clearly this is a legal, forensic term in the Greek, and the Latin, iustificar-, "to make righteous" is actually a misunderstanding and mistranslation of the Greek "to declare righteous." Where is the debate now in biblical scholarship in Catholic circles?

We cover that in Appendix 2 of the book, starting on page 615. We deal with Fitzmyer's assertion. Basically, Fitzmyer doesn't speak for the Catholic Church because there's been no official statement from the Catholic Church despite opinions from what we would call liberal theologians in the Catholic Church, and Fitzmyer would be one of them. Raymond Brown would be another, and there is a whole cadre of these individuals.

Is it your view, then, that the word always means "to make upright" rather than "to declare upright"?

Yes, we can prove that. We do it by a proof of, say, James 2, when James is quoting Genesis 15:6 where it says that Abraham believed and God justified him. He's quoting the same passage that St. Paul is quoting in Romans 4:3, so that means that James and Paul have to have the same understanding of the Greek word dikaiosune, because they're quoting from the same passage, Genesis 15:6. And here's where the Protestants try to change the meaning of dikaiosune—or dikaioo in James 2—because they say it means "demonstrated to be righteous" as opposed to "declaring to be righteous." So they have a dichotomy in their own thinking on the definitions of these words. And we go through it meticulously in chapter two of the book to show that it is impossible to arrive at that position where you make a dichotomy between "demonstrated" righteousness and "declared" righteousness on the one hand, and we also show in the book that the preponderant use of dikaioo in the Greek is not a declared righteousness—and the same would be true for the Greek word logizomai which is used in the King James Bible, for example, when it translates as "imputation." We show that the Greek word logizomai preponderantly means in the Greek that there is a reality to the thing that someone is viewing; it's not a fiction. It's not something that we label, not a label that we put on something, even though we know that the label is not saying that this thing is a reality of the label. We show that the Greek word logizomai actually means in the Greek that the label means what it is signifying. We go through all the uses of logizomai in the New Testament to show that.
So dikaioo and that word group never means "to declare righteous"?

No, there's no passage we can point to that says definitively that the only meaning that can be applied here is "declared righteous." There's no passage we have found in the New Testament that teaches that.

So it's always a "making" righteous?

Always, yes.

As in Romans 3:4, when God is said to be "justified" when he speaks?

Well, when we're talking about a soteriological context, then we're talking about that. We're not talking about passages that apply the word dikaioo to God himself.
OK, so the word itself, then, is more elastic than "to make righteous."

Yes, but it's not elastic in its soteriological sense. That's what I would say.

That would be a dogmatic claim, though, not a linguistic claim, right?

No, that would be both.

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