Monday, November 27, 2006

Justification and A Tale of Two Imperial Cities

Anthony Lane's writes in an article entitled "A Tale of Two Imperial Cities" about how "[i]n 1541, leading Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians meeting at the Regensburg Colloquy produced an agreed-upon statement on the doctrine (justification). A few years later the Council of Trent defined the doctrine in a deliberately anti-Protestant manner, rejecting the position agreed at Regensburg" [1]

Lane concludes that in Regensburg, both major Protestant and Catholic theologians believed in two types of righteousness, by which Christ's imputed rightousness is the basis for justification.

"At Regensburg, Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians reached a temporary agreement on justification. This was based upon the acceptance of both inherent and imputed righteousness and on the recognition that because of the imperfection of our inherent righteousnes, Christ's righteousness needs to be imputed to us in order for us to be acceptable to God. " [2]

Lane also concludes that the Council of Trent was deeply anti-Protestant, but warns us not to equal modern Catholic belief of justification with the "Tridentine Decree"

"The Tridentine Decree on Justification is a vitally important document, but we must not a fall into the mistake of simply equating it with the Catholic doctrine. Trent is what the Roman Catholic Church chose to say at that time in response to what it then understood the Reformers to be saying. To understand what the Roman Catholic Church today is saying to what it now understands Protestants to teach, we need to listen to contemporary Roman Catholic theology." [2]

[1] Article found in the book "Justification in Perspective:Historical Developments and Contemporay Challenges" edited by Bruce McCormack pg. 119

[2] pg142

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