Sunday, July 17, 2011

Justification by Faith Alone - An Affirmative Rebuttal

I am still waiting to conduct my debate on Justification by Faith alone. I appreciate the comments left on my proposed Affirmative Constructive, but I thought I would share an Affirmative Rebuttal as well. The constructive sets forth the truth of Sola Fide from Scripture. The rebuttal addresses the historical question: if this is true, why didn't anyone realize it before?

The answer is that while the Reformers may have better systematized, organized, and rendered consistent the doctrines known under the umbrella of "sola fide," or justification by faith alone, they were not in uncharted territory.

That is not to say that the church fathers were consistent or that they all taught the same thing. Nevertheless, the idea of justification by faith alone certainly wasn't new to the Reformers.

Chrysostom (349-407): Attend to this, ye who come to baptism at the close of life, for we indeed pray that after baptism ye may have also this deportment, but thou art seeking and doing thy utmost to depart without it. For, what though thou be justified: yet is it of faith only. But we pray that thou shouldest have as well the confidence that cometh of good works. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, On the Second Epistle of St. Paul The Apostle to the Corinthians, Homily 2, §8.

What is interesting about the above is that Chrysostom is denying the necessity of baptism for justification. He's saying that good works provide confidence but that nevertheless one can be justified by faith alone.

Chrysostom (349-407): That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. “This is a faithful saying,” he says, “and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” As the Jews were chiefly attracted by this, he persuades them not to give heed to the law, since they could not attain salvation by it without faith. Against this he contends; for it seemed to them incredible, that a man who had mis-spent all his former life in vain and wicked actions, should afterwards be saved by his faith alone. On this account he says, “It is a saying to be believed.” But some not only disbelieved but even objected, as the Greeks do now. “Let us then do evil, that good may come.” This was the consequence they drew in derision of our faith, from his words, “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.” NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on First Timothy, Homily 4, 1 Timothy 1:15, 16.

One reason to include the quotation above is the fact that it refers to salvation by faith alone, and this is explicitly contrasted with good works.

Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) on Matthew 9: “This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies.”
Latin text: Et remissum est ab eo, quod lex laxare non poterat; fides enim sola justificat. Sancti Hilarii In Evangelium Matthaei Commentarius, Caput VIII, §6, PL 9:961.

The above is pretty self explanatory.

Basil of Caesarea (329-379): [As the Apostle says,] Let him who boasts boast in the Lord, [I say that] Christ has been made by God for us righteousness, wisdom, justification, [and] redemption, that, as it is written, “he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” [For] this is perfect and pure boasting in God, when one is not proud on account of his own righteousness but knows that he is indeed unworthy of the true righteousness and is (or has been, δεδικαιωμένον, perfect passive participle, accusative, masculine of δικαιόω) justified solely by faith in Christ. See Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, p. 505. (bracketed words added to Chemnitz’ translation)
Greek text: Λέγει δὲ ὁ Ἀπόστολος• Ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν Κυρίῳ καυχάσθω, λέγω ὅτι Χριστὸς ἡμῖν ἐγενήθη σοφία ἀπὸ Θεοῦ, δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ ἁγιασμὸς καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις• ἵνα καθὼς γέγραπται, Ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν Κυρίῳ καυχάσθω. Αὕτη γὰρ δὴ ἡ τελεία καὶ ὁλόκληρος καύχησις ἐν Θεῳ, ὅτε μήτε ἐπὶ δικαιοσύνῃ τις ἐπαίρεται τῇ ἑαυτοῦ, ἀλλ´ ἔγνω μὲν ἐνδεῆ ὄντα ἑαυτὸν δικαιοσύνης ἀληθοῦς, πίστει δὲ μόνῃ τῇ εἰς Χριστὸν δεδικαιωμένον. Homilia XX, Homilia De Humilitate, §3, PG 31:529. In context, Basil appealed to the example of the Apostle Paul as a regenerate man.

Like the examples from Chrysostom above, this quotation both speaks of justification solely by faith and contrasts that with works.

Jerome (347-420) on Romans 10:3: God justifies by faith alone.
Latin text: Deus ex sola fide justificat: In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Caput X, v. 3, PL 30:692D.

The above speaks for itself, but note that the exact phrase "sola fide" is found.

Jerome (347-420): He who with all his spirit has placed his faith in Christ, even if he die in sin, shall by his faith live forever. Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), p. 61.
Latin text: Qui enim tota mente in Christo confidit, etiamsi, ut homo lapsus, mortuus fuerit in peccato, fide sua vivit in perpetuum. Epistola CXIX, Ad Minervium et Alexandrum Monachos, §7, PL 22:973.

The above is an example of Jerome contrasting justification by faith with works.

Pseudo-Oecumenius (Late 7th or Early 8th Century), commenting on James 2:23: Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 33. See PG 119:481.

Notice how here Pseudo-Oecumenius addresses Abraham's justification. He affirms that Abraham is justified by faith alone, but then explains that the works provide him with approval because of their connection to his faith.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:6, ‘righteousness apart from works’: Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 113.
Latin Text: Hoc ipsum munit exemplo prophetae. Beatitudinem hominis, cui Deus accepto fert justitiam sine operibus. Beatos dicit de quibus hoc sanxit Deus, ut sine labore et aliqua observatione, sola fide justificentur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:83.

Here Ambrosiaster explicitly denies justification by works, even while explicitly affirming justification by faith alone.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:24: They are justified freely because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 101.
Latin Text: Justificati gratis per gratiam ipsius. Justificati sunt gratis, quia nihil operantes, neque vicem reddentes, sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:79.

This is similar to the previous one.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:27: Paul tells those who live under the law that they have no reason to boast basing themselves on the law and claiming to be of the race of Abraham, seeing that no one is justified before God except by faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 103.
Latin Text: Ubi est ergo gloriatio tua? Exclusa est. Per quam legem? factorum? Non, sed per legem fidei. Reddita ratione, ad eos loquitur, qui agunt sub lege, quod sine causa glorientur, blandientes sibi de lege, et propter quod genus sint Abrahae, videntes non justificari hominem apud Deum, nisi per fidem. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:80.

Again, Ambrosiaster is affirming justification by faith alone. Here, he's providing the angle that there is no alternative way of being justified. It's not like some people are justified by faith, and others are justified by works.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:5: How then can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of the law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law when the ungodly is justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 112.
Latin Text: Hoc dicit, quia sine operibus legis credenti impio, id est gentili, in Christum, reputatur fides ejus ad justitiam, sicut et Abrahae. Quomodo ergo Judaei per opera legis justificari se putant justificatione Abrahae; cum videant Abraham non per opera legis, sed sola fide justificatum? Non ergo opus est lex, quando impius per solam fidem justificatur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:82-83.

I realize that some of Rome's apologists will try to wriggle out of the quotation above by emphasizing the distinction between the works of the Mosaic law and works in general. Nevertheless, Ambrosiaster makes it clear that faith alone justifies.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 2:12: For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 65.
Latin Text: Si enim justo non est lex posita, sed injustis; qui non peccat, amicus legis est. Huic sola fides deest, per quam fiat perfectus quia nihil illi proderit apud Deum abstinere a contrariis, nisi fidem in Deum acceperit, ut sit justus per utraque; quia illa temporis justitia est, haec aeternitatis. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:67.

The above closes out the attempted room of those who treat "the law" as simply a reference to the Mosaic law. Notice how Ambrosiaster connects the law and "avoidance of evil," which is a general description of works.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), wrote while commenting upon 1 Cor. 1:4b: God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works. By faith alone he receives the forgiveness of sins. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VII: 1-2 Corinthians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 6.
Latin Text: Datam dicit gratiam a Deo in Christo Jesu, quae gratia sic data est in Christo Jesu; quia hoc constitutum est a Deo, ut qui credit in Christum, salvus sit sine opere: sola fide gratis accipit remissionem peccatorum. In Epistolam B. Pauli Ad Corinthios Primam, PL 17:185.

The above quotation puts a final nail in the coffin for any attempted Romanist wriggling, in that here Ambrosiaster makes it explicit that a person can be saved without works.

Chrysostom (349-407): God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent. Homily on Ephesians 4.2.9. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 134. See also John Chrysostom. F. Field, ed. Interpretatio omnium Epistolarum Paulinarum per Homilias Facta (Oxford J. H. Parker, 1845-1862), 2:160.

Here Chrysostom explains that faith justifies and faith produces works, but still insists that works do not justify us.

Chrysostom (349-407): For a person who had no works, to be justified by faith, was nothing unlikely. But for a person richly adorned with good deeds, not to be made just from hence, but from faith, this is the thing to cause wonder, and to set the power of faith in a strong light. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 8, Rom. 4:1, 2.

This is a powerful statement for justification by faith alone. Chrysostom is arguing that even for those with works in addition to faith, those works do not justify them.

Clement of Rome: Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32.

The above conclusion provides a final testimony for sola fide. Yes, he does not use the term "faith alone," but he specifically rules out works.

- TurretinFan

23 comments:

Turretinfan said...

"I had a question about the logical aspect of justification by faith alone."

ok

"Protestants maintain that the regenerate believer loves God during sanctification."

ok

"I don't understand how this could be the case especially in instances of grievous sins such as David's murder of Uriah or Solomon's idolatrous behavior during the end of his life."

Those are examples of backsliding, in which the person's love of God is almost completely obscured.

"I seems obvious to me that Solomon loved himself more than he loved God (that looks like hatred to me)."

To some extent, every sin can be characterized that way. Nevertheless, a mixture of the flesh and the spirit exists in regenerate (but - as yet - unglorified) man.

"How can sanctification and growth in the love of God exist simultaneously with Sola Fide?"

Sanctification and growth in love are benefits that God normally bestows upon his children. They are not the cause or even the instrumental means whereby we are saved or more exactly justified.

By contrast, Sola Fide explains that faith alone is the instrumental means whereby we are justified by Christ's righteousness.

-TurretinFan

James Swan said...

Roman Catholic scholar Franz Posset argues Luther's doctrine of justification is identical with the one of Saint Bernard. His argumentation is quite interesting.

Jordan Cooper said...

I am doing my Masters thesis on justification in the early church. Have you looked at Ambrose's treatise "On Jacob and the Happy Life"?

natamllc said...

TF:

"... The constructive sets forth the truth of Sola Fide from Scripture. The rebuttal addresses the historical question: if this is true, why didn't anyone realize it before?"

When one accounts for the multitudes of souls God has spoken to and continues speaking to in bringing them out of darkness, too, that field/written history is far more narrow than the sum of souls in this created reality.

As the span of Scripture, Genesis to the book of the Revelation encompasses a whole host of souls so it is today that from the beginning there is a far greater host of souls since the Bible completeness started.

We can gain a sense of the Faith alone at work in numbers of souls far exceeds the words on pages of the books written and yet to be published, written, here:

Rev 19:1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

... Rev 19:3 Once more they cried out, "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever." ...

Rev 19:6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
Rev 19:8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.


There indeed are two great multitudes in those Words. My guess is the one is a greater multitude than the other seeing My God conquers and is not ashamed to call us His brethren! :)


Pro 18:19 A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
Pro 18:20 From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
Pro 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.


...

Heb 2:6 It has been testified somewhere, "What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
Heb 2:7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,
Heb 2:8 putting everything in subjection under his feet." Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
Heb 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Heb 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Heb 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
Heb 2:12 saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."
Heb 2:13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me."
Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Heb 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

dtking said...

Have you looked at Ambrose's treatise "On Jacob and the Happy Life"?

Yes, Both TF and I have...Two translations of one pericope from that work...

Ambrose (c. 339-97): Thus I do not have the wherewithal to enable me to glory in my own works, I do not have the wherewithal to boast of myself, and so I will glory in Christ. I will not glory because I have been redeemed. I will not glory because I am free of sins, but because sins have been forgiven me. I will not glory because I am profitable or because anyone is profitable to me, but because Christ is an advocate in my behalf with the Father, because the blood of Christ has been poured out in my behalf. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 65, Saint Ambrose, Seven Exegetical Works, Jacob and the Happy Life, Book 1, §6.21 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), p. 133.
Ambrose (c. 339-97): I have nothing, therefore, whereby I may glory in my works; I have nothing to boast of, and, therefore, I will glory in Christ. I will not glory because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed. I will not glory because I am free from sin, but because my sins are pardoned. I will not glory because I have done good to any one, or any one has done good to me, but because Christ is my advocate with the Father, and because Christ’s blood was shed for me. George Finch, A Sketch of the Romish Controversy (London: G. Norman, 1831), p. 220.
Latin text: Non habeo igitur unde gloriari in operibus meis possim, non habeo unde me jactem; et ideo gloriabor in Christo. Non gloriabor quia justus sum: sed gloriabor quia redemptus sum. Gloriabor, non quia vacuus peccatis sum, sed quia mihi remissa sunt peccata. Non gloriabor quia profui, neque quia profuit mihi quisquam: sed quia pro me advocatus apud Patrem Christus est: sed quia pro me Christi sanguis effusus est. De Jacob et Vita beata, Caput VI, §21, PL 14:607.

Turretinfan said...

Calvin (Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 11) quotes Ambrose thus:

"That Isaac smelled the odor of the garments perhaps means that we are justified not by works but by faith, since the weakness of the flesh is a hindrance to works, but the brightness of faith, which merits the pardon of sins, overthrows the error of deeds."

Ambrose, On Jacob and the Happy Life, Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 9

Aristion said...

Thanks for the response to my question. I certainly appreciate it, although I can't bring myself to agree with the logical implications of such a view.

As for justification by faith alone being found implicitly in the Fathers, I believe that any of those assertions made by the Fathers are easily reconcilable with a synergistic view of faith and deeds being the result of a subjective change within the individual.

There was an early expositor of Romans who wrote:

"Because they did not know that God justifies by faith alone, and because they thought that they were righteous by works of the law they did not keep, they refused to submit themselves to the foregiveness of sins, to prevent the appearance of their having been sinners... Moses himself distinguished between the two kinds of righteousness, namely the righteousness of faith and the righteousness of deeds, because the one justifies the suppliant by works, but the other by belief alone.”

Romans 10:3-5

This quotation belongs to Pelagius, who is a well-recognized enemy of the Christian faith. His view of justification sounds similar to imputation, but when read in the proper context yields a different result in interpretation. This is why I am hesitant to assert that certain Fathers held to even an implicit affirmation of Luther's concept of the alien righteousness embraced by faith alone.

Turretinfan said...

It's fine to say that quotations are taken out of context - but it is better to actually provide the context that clarifies that when they say "faith alone" they mean something else.

Regarding Pelagius, he was certainly not condemned for saying that faith alone justifies. Read any of the anti-Pelagian works - find me even one that criticizes him for holding that view.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

Regarding the comment about Pelagius:
If Pelagius taught that Faith Alone justifies, and that no Father condemned him for holding that view, then "Pelagianism" couldn't have really existed.

Think about it. Under the Protestant paradigm, Faith Alone is the antithesis of Pelagianism - the two cannot mutually exist.

The only explanation is that Pelagius meant something else when he said "Faith Alone".

Turretinfan said...

"If Pelagius taught that Faith Alone justifies, and that no Father condemned him for holding that view, then "Pelagianism" couldn't have really existed."

How silly.

"Think about it. Under the Protestant paradigm, Faith Alone is the antithesis of Pelagianism - the two cannot mutually exist."

It's the antithesis of Pelagianism, but not necessarily the antithesis of everything Pelagius ever wrote or taught.

"The only explanation is that Pelagius meant something else when he said "Faith Alone"."

So, you think he said "faith alone" and meant "works alone"? Or what exactly do you think he meant? Have you actually read his commentary on Romans?

-TurretinFan

Viisaus said...

I have this idea that perhaps we should understand the relationship of faith and good works like HYPOSTATIC UNION, using Our Lord's Incarnation as the model.

These two, faith and good works, exist necessarily together, "without separation", but also "without confusion and without mixture". And faith is superior to good works like Christ's divine nature is superior to His human nature - unlike the fleshly nature, His divinity had existed from eternity, and He had adopted human nature purely out of condescending mercy and not out of any necessity.

Nick said...

Hi TF,

What is Pelagianism? Is it not "salvation by works," by our own merits (with or without the help of grace)?

If yes, then why was Pelagius preaching the opposite of this? It would mean Pelagius wasn't really "Pelagian" in any relevant sense at all.

As for my comment that maybe Pelagius meant something else by the words "faith alone," you asked if that really meant "works alone" or something else.

I have not read his commentary on Romans, but one can believe in *a* Faith Alone doctrine without believing in Sola Fide as per Reformed standards. For example, Arminians believe in FA, but they believe faith itself is what's credited as righteousness. I've met folks who believe in Faith Alone yet define "faith" as "obedience of faith".

It is quite likely that most of the folks who have used the phraseology "faith alone" prior to Luther had no concept whatsoever of "imputation of Christ's righteousness".

Turretinfan said...

"What is Pelagianism? Is it not "salvation by works," by our own merits (with or without the help of grace)?"

Fundamentally, the Pelagian error was the denial of the necessity of grace. "The Pelagians" allegedly taught that people can - without grace - be completely righteous. they even cited several alleged examples.

"If yes, then why was Pelagius preaching the opposite of this?"

That's an interesting question, and one that might require one to dig into the context in order to see what Pelagius meant. There are several obvious possibilities:

1) By faith, Pelagius meant works. This seems unlikely, given the portion of the context that was provided.

2) Pelagius thought that men could have faith without grace.

3) Pelagius distinguished between God justifying men and men justifying themselves, as two ways of salvation.

4) Pelagius was inconsistent.

5) Pelagius himself wasn't a "Pelagian," and the Pelagian error was either a misunderstanding or the fault of his disciples, not himself.

I think we can rule out (1) on the basis of the context that we have, but we would have to read some more in order to learn whether (2)-(5) (or something else) is right.

"... one can believe in *a* Faith Alone doctrine without believing in Sola Fide as per Reformed standards."

Perhaps ... I guess it depends what you mean by that.

"For example, Arminians believe in FA, but they believe faith itself is what's credited as righteousness. I've met folks who believe in Faith Alone yet define "faith" as "obedience of faith"."

Interesting, isn't it.

"It is quite likely that most of the folks who have used the phraseology "faith alone" prior to Luther had no concept whatsoever of "imputation of Christ's righteousness". "

I'm not sure you're qualified to give us the odds about that - nor is this post about the issue of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us.

-TurretinFan

dtking said...

Romanist assertion: "It is quite likely that most of the folks who have used the phraseology "faith alone" prior to Luther had no concept whatsoever of "imputation of Christ's righteousness". "

Quite likely? I don't think so...

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Man therefore was lawfully delivered up, but mercifully set free. Yet mercy was shown in such a way that a kind of justice was not lacking even in his liberation, since, as was most fitting for man s recovery, it was part of the mercy of the liberator to employ justice rather than power against man s enemy. For what could man, the slave of sin, fast bound by the devil, do of him self to recover that righteousness which he had formerly lost? Therefore he who lacked righteousness had another’s imputed to him, and in this way: The prince of this world came and found nothing in the Saviour, and because he notwithstanding laid hands on the Innocent he lost most justly those whom he held captive; since He who owed nothing to death, lawfully freed him who was subject to it, both from the debt of death, and the dominion of the devil, by accepting the injustice of death; for with what justice could that be exacted from man a second time? It was man who owed the debt, it was man who paid it. For if one, says S. Paul, died for all, then were all dead (2 Cor. v. 14), so that, as One bore the sins of all, the satisfaction of One is imputed to all. It is not that one forfeited, another satisfied; the Head and body is one, viz., Christ. The Head, therefore, satisfied for the members, Christ for His children, since, according to the Gospel of Paul, by which Peter’s [i.e., Abelard] falsehood is refuted, He who died for us, quickened us together with Himself, forgiving us all our trespasses, blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, and took il out of the way , nailing it to His cross, having spoiled principalities and powers (Col. ii. 13, 14). Dom. John Mabillon, ed., Life and Works of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, trans. Samuel J. Eales, Vol. II, Letter CXC – Against Certain Heads of Abaelard’s Heresies, 6.15 (London: Burns and Oates Limited, 1889), pp. 580-581.

Nick said...

Hi TF,

Given your options, using #2, if that's what Pelagius meant (faith without grace or faith not being a gift), then that's one example of someone teaching "Faith Alone" without meaning the same thing as the Reformers. That's in addition to the other two possibilities I listed about Ariminan 'versions' of FA.

I would rule out #3-5 on the grounds it's unlikely that Pelagius was ignorant of what he was being accused of.


Hi Mr King,

I would love to go into this issue more deeply, since it's clear to me one saying "Faith Alone" without believing in imputation amounts to another doctrine/gospel.

Just in the quote you gave, St Bernard says this just before the part you highlight in bold: "recover that righteousness which [man] had formerly lost."

This cannot be the "legal righteousness" which results in Justification that Protestants envision, since St B says man originally had this and lost it. So there is more to the story than even just searching out the phrase "imputed righteousness".

Second, it's worth noting that Catholics believe the righteousness given to man at salvation is God's Righteousness, but that this is not a 'legal righteousness' as Protestants perceive the term.

More importantly, just after the words you highlight, St B explains himself "in this way". He explains that Satan, by killing Jesus, lost the right to hold men captive, and this is described as "satisfaction". This sounds very much like Catholic soteriology, but not Protestant Penal Substitution (in which the principal focus is the Father punishing the Son with the punishment we deserved). His thoughts from start to finish sound very much like those of St Thomas. It is also worth noting there is no mention of "Active Obedience" in St B's equation, which further distances itself from anything uniquely and specifically Protestant.

So if this is what Luther was "recovering," I'd say he found something that was never lost nor denied by the Catholic Church. But most informed Protestants would deny the idea that the Reformation was founded upon a misunderstanding rather than substantive and irreconcilable differences.

dtking said...

I would love to go into this issue more deeply, since it's clear to me one saying "Faith Alone" without believing in imputation amounts to another doctrine/gospel.

Thanks for sharing. I doubt you can express yourself more substantially than you have already. But I've provided the necessary evidence of the imputation of righteousness before the time of the reformation contrary to your claim. Claiming personal clarity about what constitutes another gospel only begs the question of the same.

As for your attempt to explain away the words of Bernard, that is a rather fascinating excursion into a denial of the obvious.

But here's your opportunity to shine for us...For example, Theodoret said of Christ that "he took on the sins of others, since he had none of his own." Tell us how Christ took on the sins of others.

Nick said...

Hello Mr King,

Could you please tell me what St Bernard meant in the quote you provided when he said "recover that righteousness which [man] had formerly lost"?

What righteousness did man formerly have that needed to be recovered?


You asked me what Theodoret meant by "he took on the sins of others, since he had none of his own." Since there is no context to work with, I can only guess at what Theodoret meant, since as the quote stands, it's a non-sequitor.

There are various ways Jesus could be said to "take on the sins of others." One manner could be that described in Isaiah 53:4, where it says Jesus "bore our griefs and carried our sorrows," which Matthew 8 interprets as Jesus taking away evil spirits and curing diseases. This same terms for "bore" and "carried" are applied to sins in 53:11,12, so by analogy this is a Hebraic way of saying Jesus removed sins and forgave them.

dtking said...

There are various ways Jesus could be said to "take on the sins of others." One manner could be that described in Isaiah 53:4, where it says Jesus "bore our griefs and carried our sorrows," which Matthew 8 interprets as Jesus taking away evil spirits and curing diseases. This same terms for "bore" and "carried" are applied to sins in 53:11,12, so by analogy this is a Hebraic way of saying Jesus removed sins and forgave them.

When you answer my question I will address yours. For to claim that taking away sins is precisely the same as bearing sins is not an answer. I don't think you know, and you're simply making a wild guess.

Nick said...

Mr King,

I don't know what answer you're looking for, but if you have a plausible interpretation for bearing sin, I'm interested.

dtking said...

I don't know what answer you're looking for, but if you have a plausible interpretation for bearing sin, I'm interested.

It ought to be easy for you, since it is a theme found not only in Holy Scripture, but in copious expressions throughout the writings of the early church. Here's a clue for you - sins cannot be taken away unless they are first borne, i.e., assumed as one's possession. Yes, Christ takes away our sins, but He must first bear them in order to take them away. In what sense, then, does Christ bear sins in His own body on the tree (to use the language of 1 Peter 2:24)?

Turretinfan said...

If Canon 5 of the Council of Orange accurately represents Pelagianism (and rejects it) then it appears that (2) may be correct:

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism -- if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

Terry said...

If you are going to quote Chrisostom, let's be fair and balanced:

Here is a quote from his homily on John 3:3: ‘What He [Jesus] declares is this: “Thou sayest that it is impossible, I say that it is so absolutely possible as to be necessary, and that it is not even possible otherwise to be saved.”’ Here Chrysostom makes clear that Christ was intending by his comment that baptism is necessary. He also ties it in with salvation in case one would argue that entering the kingdom is perhaps different from salvation. Let us look at another quote: ‘That the need of water is absolute and indispensable, you may learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”’ Again, Chrysostom is clear on the necessity of water and so baptism. A third quote to confirm Chrysostom’s view: ‘We risk no common danger; for if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated, though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble.’ Here it seems to counter an argument that baptism is necessary for us to enter the kingdom while on earth but one may nevertheless enter the kingdom on judgement day, because Chrysostom speaks of portion of the uninitiated as hell and bonds indissoluble, that is not a only a temporary time in hell but an eternity in hell.

Has said...

http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/fathers.html#C) St. Bernard it turns out for saint Bernard that Faith ALone does not include sacrements, and sacrements are technically works arent they