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Author Topic: What is Justification?  (Read 3952 times) Average Rating: 0
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ignatius
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« on: November 30, 2007, 08:15:20 PM »

How is Justification defined in classic Christian teaching... based on Sacred Scripture, Ancient Ecumenical Consensual Teaching and the Protestant Confessions?

I hear a lot of fellow Orthodox belittling Justification and in doing belittling the Sacred Scriptures and the Apostolic Traditions which are the very ground of our faith.

What is Justification? Justification is the declaration of God that one who trusts in Christ's atoning work, however sinful, is treated or accounted as righteous. This credited righteousness is received by faith.

This is not to be viewed as if it were merely a legal fiction, or as a fantasy imagined in God's mind, or as a human hypothetical conjecture. This uprighted relation with the holy God comes about as a decisive, merciful divine act, an actual event in history that occurs on the cross.

Justification is the reversal of God's judgment against the sinner, in which the sinner is declared to be no longer exposed to the penalty of the law, which is ultimately spiritual death, but restored to divine favor. Justification is that divine act by which one stands now in the right relation with God. It is an act of God's free grace through which the sinner is absolved from guilt and accepted as righteous on account of the Son's atoning work.

Justification is the pardoning act of the supreme Judge of all, by which he pardons 'all' the sins of those who trust in the pardoning work of Christ in our place on the cross. In this way the righteousness of Christ is applied to the believer.

It is not that the law is blandly relaxed or dishonestly set aside. Rather, the law is declared to be fulfilled in an even stricter sense: by the Judge himself, his own sacrificial offering of himself as he himself fulfills the requirements of the law for us! This happens by imputing or crediting to the believer by God himself the perfect righteousness of his representative and guarantee: God the Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:3-9). Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a righteousness that perfectly and forever satisfies the law, namely Christ's righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:6-8). The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or credited to the believer is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is at the same time truly man and truly God.

Justification is the opposite of condemnation. One is justified who is viewed as right with the Judge, the law, and the Lawgiver (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV). The justifying Judge declares that all the requirements of the law are entirely satisfied. The person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from the perfect obedience to the law (Rom. 5:1-10).

Hence this simple formula is often heard in Protestant teaching on justification:

its Source: God.
its Nature: a gracious act.
its Elements: pardon and acceptance.
its Scope: all believers.
its Ground: the imputed righteousness of Christ.
its Condition: faith alone.

Justification does not result from higher commitment to greater ideals or more advanced actualization of good character or better performance of the demands of the law. It is solely due to a declaration of God's merciful attitude toward the sinner whose life is hid in Christ.

Early Eastern Voices on Justification:

Key textual evidence from Origen, John Chrysostom, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus show that leading eastern patristic writers anticipated standard classic Reformation teaching on justification.

The leading biblical interpreter from the great school of Antioch, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, in his fourth-century commentary on the epistles of Paul, reflected on Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith," in this way: "All we bring to grace is our faith. But even in this faith, divine grace itself has become our enabler. For [Paul] adds, 'And this is not of yourselves but it is a gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).' It is not of our own accord that we have believed, but we have come to belief after having been called; and even when we had come to believe, He did not require of us purity of life, but approving mere faith, God bestowed on us forgiveness of sins" (Interpretation of the Fourteen Epistles of Paul). A thousand years before Luther.

A generation before Theodoret, John Chrysostom had expressly stated: "So that you may not be elated by the magnitude of these benefits, see how Paul puts you in your place. For 'by grace you are saved,' he says, 'through faith'. Then, so as to do no injury to free will, he allots a role to us, then takes it away again, saying 'and this not of ourselves.'.... Even faith, he says, is not from us. For if he Lord had not come, if he had not called us, how should we have been able to believe? 'For how,' [Paul] says, 'shall they believe if they have not heard?' (Rom. 10:14). So even the act of faith is not self-initiated. It is, he says, 'the gift of God' (Eph. 2:8c)." So writes Chrysostom at the end of the fourth century (Hom. of Ephesians 2:Cool.

In asking why boasting is excluded, Origen commented on Romans 3:28, "For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law." "If an example is required," remarked Origen, "I think it must suffice to mention the thief on the cross, who asked Christ to save him and was told, 'Truly, this day you will be with me in paradise' (Luke 23:43).... A man is justified by faith. The works of the law can make no contribution to this. Where there is no faith which might justify the one who does them, because faith is lacking, and faith is the mark of those who are justified by God" (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans). So was justification by faith alone understood before the Reformers? The texts make this undeniable. These examples make it clear that justification teaching was rightly understood among the eastern patristic writers in a way that classic Reformation writers would have every reason to respect.
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2007, 08:18:00 PM »

I meant to place this within the Orthodox - Protestant Forum....  Sad
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2007, 08:26:14 PM »

There you go. No problem, ignatius.
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2007, 08:29:25 PM »

There you go. No problem, ignatius.

Thanks! Peace and Blessings!  Grin
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2007, 08:34:50 PM »

Wow, at a first and second read through, other than perhaps a slight difference of understanding regarding justification as a forensic work of God on the believer's half...

I find myself in total agreement with what has been stated regarding justification.
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2007, 09:04:04 PM »

Wow, Ignatius, I'm impressed. Have you found many of your fellow EO who agree with this?
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2007, 09:06:49 PM »

In asking why boasting is excluded, Origen commented on Romans 3:28, "For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law." "If an example is required," remarked Origen, "I think it must suffice to mention the thief on the cross, who asked Christ to save him and was told, 'Truly, this day you will be with me in paradise' (Luke 23:43).... A man is justified by faith. The works of the law can make no contribution to this. Where there is no faith which might justify the one who does them, because faith is lacking, and faith is the mark of those who are justified by God" (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans). So was justification by faith alone understood before the Reformers? The texts make this undeniable. These examples make it clear that justification teaching was rightly understood among the eastern patristic writers in a way that classic Reformation writers would have every reason to respect.

This is true, but the pitfall of Protestantism with their solas and forensic justification is that one finds himself into a pars pro toto.  No one here will deny that being made right with God is His own work.  However, Protestantism goes way off the mark when it totally divorces justification from theosis (sanctification).  As a result, Protestantism, especially Lutheranism, has adopted a viewpoint that the Christian must be entirely passive and that works are to be feared, because one can trust in them.  That is truly possible, but that should not preclude the use of works to become like God.  The Protestant insistence on justification only is because they fear that any attribution of work to ourselves somehow diminishes God's glory. In other words, they become paranoid about any perceived glory that coudl be subtracted from the Godhead.  In fact, this is how the major heresies developed.  Arianism, Sabellianism and Nestorianism all developed because Arius, Sabellius and Nestorius believed that their particular understanding on God made sure that God's glory was intact.

Justification, as Ignatius defined it, is not in any way objectionable to the doctrines of the EOC.  It becomes objectionable when certain people, like Protestants, regard this as the central or only article of the Christian faith and totally ignore any active work, from God working in us, to achieve theosis.  This is not by our own merit.  But if we say we have no part in our own salvation is to accuse God of a double fault; 1) that He did not know what He has created and 2) that God's creation was somehow deficient, which is, of course, contrary to the holy fathers.
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2007, 11:48:01 PM »

 Smiley  Smiley  Smiley

I completely agree with what ignatius said!

You did an excellent job in putting all that together.
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2007, 12:18:42 AM »

This is true, but the pitfall of Protestantism with their solas and forensic justification is that one finds himself into a pars pro toto.  No one here will deny that being made right with God is His own work.  However, Protestantism goes way off the mark when it totally divorces justification from theosis (sanctification).  As a result, Protestantism, especially Lutheranism, has adopted a viewpoint that the Christian must be entirely passive and that works are to be feared, because one can trust in them.  That is truly possible, but that should not preclude the use of works to become like God.  The Protestant insistence on justification only is because they fear that any attribution of work to ourselves somehow diminishes God's glory. In other words, they become paranoid about any perceived glory that coudl be subtracted from the Godhead.  In fact, this is how the major heresies developed.  Arianism, Sabellianism and Nestorianism all developed because Arius, Sabellius and Nestorius believed that their particular understanding on God made sure that God's glory was intact.

Justification, as Ignatius defined it, is not in any way objectionable to the doctrines of the EOC.  It becomes objectionable when certain people, like Protestants, regard this as the central or only article of the Christian faith and totally ignore any active work, from God working in us, to achieve theosis.  This is not by our own merit.  But if we say we have no part in our own salvation is to accuse God of a double fault; 1) that He did not know what He has created and 2) that God's creation was somehow deficient, which is, of course, contrary to the holy fathers.


This only so of roughly one half of Protestanism -- the reformed/Calvinisitic bent. Arminians, Wesleyian-Arminians, and/Freewillers (the other half) do not view it quite so. For us though works do not themselves justify or earn righteousness before God, they do validate the existence of the kind of faith that justifies. So, to that degree works are a necessary component and out working of justification. Faith without (complimentary) works is dead after all.
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2007, 09:29:16 AM »

This is true, but the pitfall of Protestantism with their solas and forensic justification is that one finds himself into a pars pro toto.  No one here will deny that being made right with God is His own work.  However, Protestantism goes way off the mark when it totally divorces justification from theosis (sanctification).  As a result, Protestantism, especially Lutheranism, has adopted a viewpoint that the Christian must be entirely passive and that works are to be feared, because one can trust in them.  That is truly possible, but that should not preclude the use of works to become like God.  The Protestant insistence on justification only is because they fear that any attribution of work to ourselves somehow diminishes God's glory. In other words, they become paranoid about any perceived glory that could be subtracted from the Godhead.  In fact, this is how the major heresies developed.  Arianism, Sabellianism and Nestorianism all developed because Arius, Sabellius and Nestorius believed that their particular understanding on God made sure that God's glory was intact.

Grace and Peace,

Yes, absolutely... 'many' of our brothers and sisters in Protestantism 'decouple' theosis (sanctification) and damages the holistic view of our faith by simply doing 'nothing' with what gifts have been given. A striking exhortation to this is the "Parable of the Talents" in the Gospel of St. Matthew.  Undecided

Quote
Justification, as Ignatius defined it, is not in any way objectionable to the doctrines of the EOC.  It becomes objectionable when certain people, like Protestants, regard this as the central or only article of the Christian faith and totally ignore any active work, from God working in us, to achieve theosis.  This is not by our own merit.  But if we say we have no part in our own salvation is to accuse God of a double fault; 1) that He did not know what He has created and 2) that God's creation was somehow deficient, which is, of course, contrary to the holy fathers.

As Wesley articulates our Free Will is 'in effect' quickened by Prevening Grace and Grace is not irresistible... we must respond by 'not resisting' the healing work of God in our lives.
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2007, 12:27:37 PM »

As Wesley articulates our Free Will is 'in effect' quickened by Prevening Grace and Grace is not irresistible... we must respond by 'not resisting' the healing work of God in our lives.

Right. Our choice is to resist or not to resist.
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2007, 01:52:37 PM »

Right. Our choice is to resist or not to resist.

Lubeltri, what would St. Augustine have to say about what you said?  His Retractations seem to give an ambiguous answer at best. 
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2007, 07:35:41 PM »

Lubeltri, what would St. Augustine have to say about what you said?  His Retractations seem to give an ambiguous answer at best. 

1) St. Augustine was sometimes wrong and humbly admitted that fact.

2) St. Augustine is to be interpreted in the light of Tradition.

3) St. Augustine's views are not monolithic. He left a huge body of work written over a period of many years, some of it contradictory.
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2007, 06:07:52 AM »

Could it be said then that through Theosis that once righteousness is imputed in justification,it becomes infused through santification?
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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2007, 11:48:35 AM »

Could it be said then that through Theosis that once righteousness is imputed in justification,it becomes infused through santification?

Just off the cuff, I would say that even in the case of 'imputed' righteousness 'by grace through faith' our 'quickened' spiritual life in no sense should be thought of as superficial but an en-living act of God (i.e. a new birth) into greater and more full participation in the Godhead (i.e the natural calling for all men).

Immortality was not an 'inherent' state even in Adam. Immortality was 'imputed' to stave off the 'natural' state of corruption inherent in all physical states. This 'imputed' quality of God's gifts to His creatures shouldn't distract us from the fact that these are gifts which were 'intended' has our original state 'in Adam'. I believe modern views of individuality are blurring our ability to see the 'inherent' participation man had and should have in and with the Godhead. We 'share' our fullness of being with and in God as our Lord Jesus Christ....

Peace and God Bless.
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« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2007, 01:04:12 PM »

Your views on the Atonement and justification are rock-solid, Ignatius. Keep them after you are received into Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2007, 05:22:01 PM »

Could it be said then that through Theosis that once righteousness is imputed in justification,it becomes infused through santification?

Generally, yes. But being more technical -- not properly. I am seeing the idea of Theosis as complementary with my views and understanding of the nature and source of Christian life and living (namely personal sanctification, regeneration, holiness & godliness, growing in grace, etc.). It is rather in what (at least we protestants) call regeneration whereby righteousness is infused. In this way we are made partakers of the divine nature.
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« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2007, 06:17:24 PM »

Generally, yes. But being more technical -- not properly. I am seeing the idea of Theosis as complementary with my views and understanding of the nature and source of Christian life and living (namely personal sanctification, regeneration, holiness & godliness, growing in grace, etc.). It is rather in what (at least we protestants) call regeneration whereby righteousness is infused. In this way we are made partakers of the divine nature.

If it is infused, then where do I find myself?  Am I to play no part in becoming like God?
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« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2007, 02:50:32 AM »

If it is infused, then where do I find myself?  Am I to play no part in becoming like God?

Perhaps it is the terminology. Would it make more sense if I had used the word imparted instead of infused?

Either way, in my understanding, it is not mechanical righteousness that is received. And, it is more than just imputed righteousness that is given. We are made a new creature who partakes in the very nature of God, and consequently is able to maintain righteousness as we follow and live for Him (letting Him live in and through us).

In imputed righteousness no actual effect is had upon the creature -- just his standing. In imparted or infused righteousness one is made righteous in heart (effecting the nature of the creature himself). We still retain free will and a mortal body, and thus can be and submit to temptation.
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« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2007, 01:17:44 PM »

in my understanding, it is not mechanical righteousness that is received. And, it is more than just imputed righteousness that is given. We are made a new creature who partakes in the very nature of God, and consequently is able to maintain righteousness as we follow and live for Him (letting Him live in and through us).
So in other words, we don't just rub a lamp and God winks, nods, and grants our wish; we have to actively receive righteousness? That sounds pretty Orthodox to me.

But tell me, is it possible for the "old creature" to also partake in the nature of God?
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« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2007, 03:10:30 PM »

In imputed righteousness no actual effect is had upon the creature -- just his standing. In imparted or infused righteousness one is made righteous in heart (effecting the nature of the creature himself). We still retain free will and a mortal body, and thus can be and submit to temptation.

Grace and Peace Cleopas,

I beg to differ. By using words like 'infused' and 'imparted' one can be mislead that such states are human attributes in the sole possession of the creature and no longer a 'sharing of the divine Godhead'. Can the Moon shed light of it's own? No, only by means of reflecting that light which is given it by the Sun. Attributes such as 'immortality' and 'righteousness' do not exist apart from man participating and sharing them 'by grace' (i.e. favor) from their font (i.e. source). It is our participation 'with and in' the divine nature that allows these attributes to, in effect, take up residence within us. It is my sincere belief that we are 'nothing' outside of this synergism with and within the divine nature.

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« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2007, 03:07:17 AM »

Here's a good definition of Justification from a Catholic source

And here's a good definition of Justification from a Calvinist/Protestant source
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