Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Posts on Justification

The continuing debate about hard times in the ecumenical Protestant world and conversion to Catholicism has sparked three interesting posts on issues related to justification. First Contarini at Ithilien asks "Justification By Faith Alone: The Real Issue?" Despite his qualifications on the classic Evangelical teaching on imputation and monergy (his background is Methodist), he gets to the heart of the matter, which is what is faith? Is it merely historical knowledge about what happened in AD 30 in Judah, or is it trust and resting upon the news one has heard? Contarini, despite all his doubts and hesitations, lays out the true Evangelical faith. (The contrast with, for example, the maunderings of Ronald Knox on the salvation of those outside the church, is painful.)

At Pontifications, Father Kimel cites the Lutheran theologian David Yeago on the fundamentally antinomian cast given to the Law-Gospel distinction in modern ecumenical Protestant theology. Why is the Law bad for us? Because, said the old confessions, our corrupted flesh revolts against it, ever the harder the more it is imposed. Because, say the new confessions, laws are always bad, limiting, restrictive, cookie-cutter solutions to complex problems, Procrustean beds that lop off whole areas of ambiguity and paradox. ("I liked white better," said Gandalf.)

Justification is the issue, the Law Paul says deals death in Romans and Galatians is exactly the moral law, the faith that justifies is not just assent to facts but trust in the promise apart from the law, and the reason we need such a promise is because the good law is always weakened by our corrupt flesh.