Saturday, March 31, 2007

Federal Telephone Excise Tax Credit

Don't forget to claim the Federal Telephone Excise Tax credit, which saves you anywhere between $30 to $60 bucks depending on the number of exemptions you claim.

Check out the details at Money Girls.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Iustitia Dei Part 6: Protestant's View of Justification (1530-1730)

1. Justification is defined as the forensic declaration that believers are righteous, rather than the process by which they are made righteous, involving a change in their status rather than in their nature.

2. A delibrate and systematic distinction is made between justification (the external act by which God declares the sinner to be righteous) and sanctification or regeneration (the internal process of renewal within humans). Although the two are treated as inseparable, a notional distinction is thus drawn where none was conceded before.

3. Justifying righteousness, or the formal cause of justification,is defined as the alien rightousness of Christ, external to humans and imputed to them, rather than a righteousness which is inherent to them, located within them, or which ins any sense may be said to belong to them. God's judgement in justification is therefore synthetic rather than analytic, in that there is no righteousness, within humans which can be considered to be the basis of the divine verdict of justification; the righteousness upon which such a judgement is necessarily based ins external to humans.

[1] pg 212-213

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Iustitia Dei Part 5: Justification and the Sacraments

"In conclusion, it may be stated that the medieval period saw that justification of the sinner firmly linked to the sacramental life of the church, a sound theological link having been established between justification and the sacraments. This linking of justification to the sacramental system of the church has profound theological and pastoral consequences, of which the most important is the tendency to assert iustificatio extra ecclesiam non est. Although the theologians of the medieval period were aware that God was not bound by the sacraments, the tendency to emphasise the reliablity of the established order of salvation, of which the sacramental system is part, can only have served to convey the impression that the sinner who wishes to be reconciled God must, de facto, seek the assistance of a priest"

- Alister McGrath pg. 127 of Iustifitia Dei

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Active and Passive Justification

In the past, Reformed theologians made a distinction between active and passive justification according to McGarth's book,IUSTITIA DEI. McGrath commenting on both: "The distinction refers to the act of God by which the sinner is justified (active justification), and the subjective feelings of grace subsequently evoked in the conscience of the justified sinner(passive). God acts to justify and humanity is passive in receiving this justification. The importance of the distinction lies in the fact that God's act of justification, in which the sinner is declared righteous, is perfect, accomplished once and for all, whereas the realisation by humans of this state of justifcation is imperfect, in so far as it is based upon the feeling of grace evoked in this conscience" (pg. 271)

Therefore, it seems that Reformed theologians believed that regeneration (if I can safely say faith comes from "regeneration") came both prior and posterior to justification with the "divine/objective" justification coming before regeneration. McGrath states: "the Reformed theologians were able to state that faith was posterior to objective, and prior to subjective justification" )pg. 272)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bruce McCormack and Calvin

In Bruce McCormack’s article “What’s at Stake in Current Debates over Justification?” the author notes that the (Reformer’s view of justification) "break with Medieval Catholicism was actually less than complete due to a residual commitment to Medieval Catholic understandings of regeneration and a shaky grasp of the relationship of justification and regeneration.”(pg. 84) based on the Reformer’s failure to directly engage in ontological issues.

McCormack cites that both Luther (pg.94) and Calvin failed in this regard. What is particularly interesting is to hear Calvin articulate a relationship between justification and regeneration that has the latter FOLLOWING the former (I always thought Calvin believed regeneration came first).

McCormack writes “Calvin makes justification to be logically prior to-and the foundation of – that bestowal of the sort of adoption by means of which the believer is regenerated. On this view, regeneration would have to be seen as the logical consequence of the divine verdict registered in justification. In sum, Calvin’s understanding of justification is strictly forensic or judicial in character. It is a matter of a divine judgment, a verdict of acquittal. And the means by which it is accomplished is imputation”.

Even though Calvin’s states this plainly, McCormack later notes that Calvin became less clear of the relationship of justification before regeneration in his other writings on soteriology (pg 101 -103) and Eucharistic feeding (pg.104). McCormack notes that lack of clarity was a result of Calvin refusing to engage in ontological questions (pg .105).

Friday, March 02, 2007

Iustitia Dei Part 4: Gabriel Biel and Pactum

I wonder if Gabriel Biel is the first covenant theologian?

"Gabriel Biel's doctrine of justification is based upon the concept of a pactum (covenant) between God and humanity which defines the conditions which humans must meet if they are to be justified, as well as emphasising the divine reliability. The present order of salvation, although radically contingent, is nevertheless totally reliable and strictly immutable. Thus God, having freely and of his liberalitas determined to enter into such a binding contract with humanity, is now obliged to respect the terms of that covenant. God gives grace to those who 'do their best', precisely because of God's decision and promise to behave in this way."

pg 87 of Iustitia Dei by Alister McGrath