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Author Topic: Implications of the Joint Declaration on Justification (Lutherans/RCs) for EO  (Read 1001 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 17, 2011, 03:10:17 PM »

I would like your views on the implications of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation (link below) for dialog between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics. I have specific questions in mind for the purpose of this thread (see below). Please read the PROLOGUE.


I. PROLOGUE

A. Luther. Luther understood justification as a forensic term referring to the imputation of righteousness (merited by the Son in the crucifixion event) to the believer, and a non-imputation of sin due to one's connection with the death of Christ.

B. Mainstream contemporary scholarship has increasingly distanced itself from Luther's perspective, universally with respect to some key points, e.g.:

“It is easy, when reading Luther, to concentrate on the theological argument with the Roman Catholic Church in which he is so energetically engaged and to miss a subtle hermeneutical impropriety in which the great Reformer and theologian has indulged. Especially in his lectures on Galatians, but elsewhere as well, Luther assumes that the Jews against whose view of the law Paul was arguing held the same theology of justification as the medieval Roman Catholic Church. This hermeneutical error would be perpetuated over the next four centuries and eventually serve as the organizing principle for mountains of Protestant scholarship on the Old Testament and ancient Judaism... Without question the pivotal event ...was the publication in 1977 of E. P. Sander’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism... Largely as a result of this important work [E. P. Sander’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism], most students of Pauline theology now believe that Montefiore, Sanders, and other dissenters from the classic Protestant perspective have proven their case…” (F. Thielman, “Law” in Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, eds., Dictionary of Paul and His Letters: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (1993).

For a fuller text of this article see further here. For a survey of the increasing abandonment of the Lutheran paradigm of justification in mainstream Western scholarship, see further here.

C. Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), signed by both Lutheran World Federation and The Roman Catholic Church on 31 October 1999 affirms "consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification exists between Lutherans and Catholics" ( http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html ).

D. Orthodox writers usually affirm the patristic and Orthodox Therapeutic Model as in contrast and/or conflict with the focus upon merit in Western theology beginning with the Middle Ages whereas Roman Catholic apologists often tell Orthodox Christians they really have the same soteriological model as the medieval Latins (despite general Orthodox disagreement), the main difference being different wording/description and more logical analysis on the Latin side.

E. Personal reflections. It seems to me that there is less distance between recent mainstream academic views of justification and Eastern Orthodox views and greater distance between Lutheran and Orthodox views of justification, and between Roman Catholic and Orthodox views, especially with regard to issues like merit and propitiation, but that much is a personal perspective: I am interested in your opinions.

II. QUESTIONS.

Question 1 (to Roman Catholics): Would you as a Roman Catholic maintain both (a) Lutherans and Roman Catholic soteriology is essentially the same at the end of the day viz. doctrines of justification and merit per the Joint Declaration and (b) Orthodox soteriology is then the same on some fundamental level as the Lutherans viz. doctrines of justification and merit? Why or why not?

Question 2 (to Roman Catholics): What are your thoughts on the recent trend among major academics to repudiate both Roman Catholic and Lutheran concepts of merit and justification as being rooted in the New Testament? (see #3 above). Does it matter? Why or why not?

Question 3 (to Orthodox Christians): Do you as an Orthodox Christian see the Orthodox Church embracing the Lutheran doctrine of justification to the extent the Roman Catholics have in their joint declaration? Would this be a factor in assessing prospects for eventual reunion with Rome?



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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2011, 03:19:41 PM »

I would like your views on the implications of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation (link below) for dialog between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics. I have specific questions in mind for the purpose of this thread (see below). Please read the PROLOGUE.


I. PROLOGUE

A. Luther. Luther understood justification as a forensic term referring to the imputation of righteousness (merited by the Son in the crucifixion event) to the believer, and a non-imputation of sin due to one's connection with the death of Christ.

B. Mainstream contemporary scholarship has increasingly distanced itself from Luther's perspective, universally with respect to some key points, e.g.:

“It is easy, when reading Luther, to concentrate on the theological argument with the Roman Catholic Church in which he is so energetically engaged and to miss a subtle hermeneutical impropriety in which the great Reformer and theologian has indulged. Especially in his lectures on Galatians, but elsewhere as well, Luther assumes that the Jews against whose view of the law Paul was arguing held the same theology of justification as the medieval Roman Catholic Church. This hermeneutical error would be perpetuated over the next four centuries and eventually serve as the organizing principle for mountains of Protestant scholarship on the Old Testament and ancient Judaism... Without question the pivotal event ...was the publication in 1977 of E. P. Sander’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism... Largely as a result of this important work [E. P. Sander’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism], most students of Pauline theology now believe that Montefiore, Sanders, and other dissenters from the classic Protestant perspective have proven their case…” (F. Thielman, “Law” in Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, eds., Dictionary of Paul and His Letters: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (1993). For a fuller text of this article see further here. For a survey of the increasing abandonment of the Lutheran paradigm of justification in mainstream Western scholarship, see further here.

C. Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), signed by both Lutheran World Federation and The Roman Catholic Church on 31 October 1999 affirms "consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification exists between Lutherans and Catholics" ( http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html ).

D. Orthodox writers usually view the patristic and Orthodox "therapeutic model" as in contrast and/or conflict with the focus upon merit in Western theology beginning with the Middle Ages whereas Roman Catholic apologists often tell Orthodox Christians they really have the same soteriological model as the medieval Latins (despite general Orthodox disagreement), the main difference being different wording/description and more logical analysis on the Latin side.

E. Personal reflections. It seems to me that there is less distance between recent mainstream academic views of justification and Eastern Orthodox views and greater distance between Lutheran and Orthodox views of justification, and between Roman Catholic and Orthodox views, especially with regard to issues like merit and propitiation, but that much is a personal perspective: I am interested in your opinions.

II. QUESTIONS.

Question 1 (to Roman Catholics): Would you as a Roman Catholic maintain both (a) Lutherans and Roman Catholic soteriology is essentially the same at the end of the day viz. doctrines of justification and merit per the Joint Declaration and (b) Orthodox soteriology is then the same on some fundamental level as the Lutherans viz. doctrines of justification and merit? Why or why not?

Question 2 (to Roman Catholics): What are your thoughts on the recent trend among major academics to repudiate both Roman Catholic and Lutheran concepts of merit and justification as being rooted in the New Testament? (see #3 above). Does it matter? Why or why not?

Question 3 (to Orthodox Christians): Do you as an Orthodox Christian see the Orthodox Church embracing the Lutheran doctrine of justification to the extent the Roman Catholics have in their joint declaration? Would this be a factor in assessing prospects for eventual reunion with Rome?




This document was drafted and signed 12 years ago. What implications would we expect to see that we haven't seen already?
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2011, 03:32:38 PM »

This document was drafted and signed 12 years ago. What implications would we expect to see that we haven't seen already?
We Orthodox have never signed a joint statement on justification with either Lutherans or Roman Catholics (and I personally doubt we ever will), so presumably the implications for Orthodox/Roman Catholic discussion isn't a dead issue yet, and it is still regarded by many as a major issue.

We are still discussing other matters which were drafted and signed even longer ago than 12 years, like the Nicene Creed. Is there some reason we shouldn't? There has also been a marked increase in the rejection of the Lutheran doctrine of justification among major academics (as described above) which it seems to me is worth discussing anew. References to reactions in the last 12 years are certainly welcome.




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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2011, 02:18:43 PM »

Quote
We Orthodox have never signed a joint statement on justification with either Lutherans or Roman Catholics (and I personally doubt we ever will), so presumably the implications for Orthodox/Roman Catholic discussion isn't a dead issue yet, and it is still regarded by many as a major issue
Good, Im glad the Church hasn't. The Church should stand on what it believes. There is no need to sign any kind of agreement with anyone. if Lutherans believe as we, wonderful. Good for them. If not, so be it. All these things tend to do is cause unwarranted drama for all parties concerned.

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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2011, 02:46:55 PM »

Despite growing up in a wholeheartedly Lutheran country, attending Lutheran services and attempting to understand Lutheran dogmatics I've never fully understood why Lutherans have so negative view of RC/Orthodox view on salvation. Lutherans have always implicitly believed that good works are essential part of salvation.
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2011, 03:02:29 PM »

Despite growing up in a wholeheartedly Lutheran country, attending Lutheran services and attempting to understand Lutheran dogmatics I've never fully understood why Lutherans have so negative view of RC/Orthodox view on salvation. Lutherans have always implicitly believed that good works are essential part of salvation.
Are you sure about that? Luther wanted to throw out the epistle of St. James precisely because it mentioned good works and not just faith alone as a requirement for justification.
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2011, 03:09:54 PM »

Despite growing up in a wholeheartedly Lutheran country, attending Lutheran services and attempting to understand Lutheran dogmatics I've never fully understood why Lutherans have so negative view of RC/Orthodox view on salvation. Lutherans have always implicitly believed that good works are essential part of salvation.
Are you sure about that? Luther wanted to throw out the epistle of St. James precisely because it mentioned good works and not just faith alone as a requirement for justification.

Interesting. Since I'm not incredibly familiar with Luther, do you happen to have a source for that? This is not a demand for a source, just seeking to read more on it if you happen to have a source on hand. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2011, 04:37:25 PM »

Despite growing up in a wholeheartedly Lutheran country, attending Lutheran services and attempting to understand Lutheran dogmatics I've never fully understood why Lutherans have so negative view of RC/Orthodox view on salvation. Lutherans have always implicitly believed that good works are essential part of salvation.
Are you sure about that? Luther wanted to throw out the epistle of St. James precisely because it mentioned good works and not just faith alone as a requirement for justification.

Interesting. Since I'm not incredibly familiar with Luther, do you happen to have a source for that? This is not a demand for a source, just seeking to read more on it if you happen to have a source on hand. Smiley

The wiki on the Epistle of James has it, but I found a read on this. I didnt read the whole thing because Im working but its a start.

http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2011, 05:06:59 PM »

Despite growing up in a wholeheartedly Lutheran country, attending Lutheran services and attempting to understand Lutheran dogmatics I've never fully understood why Lutherans have so negative view of RC/Orthodox view on salvation. Lutherans have always implicitly believed that good works are essential part of salvation.
Are you sure about that? Luther wanted to throw out the epistle of St. James precisely because it mentioned good works and not just faith alone as a requirement for justification.

I haven't read what Luther himself though on the issue but Lutherans that I've met admit that justification must come out as good works. Without those one is not truly saved in the end. Even a friend of mine who was recently ordained as a confessional Lutheran pastor admitted that.

We just tend to speak about the same thing from a different perspective and with different terms.
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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2011, 05:08:17 PM »

Despite growing up in a wholeheartedly Lutheran country, attending Lutheran services and attempting to understand Lutheran dogmatics I've never fully understood why Lutherans have so negative view of RC/Orthodox view on salvation. Lutherans have always implicitly believed that good works are essential part of salvation.
Are you sure about that? Luther wanted to throw out the epistle of St. James precisely because it mentioned good works and not just faith alone as a requirement for justification.

I haven't read what Luther himself though on the issue but Lutherans that I've met admit that justification must come out as good works. Without those one is not truly saved in the end. Even a friend of mine who was recently ordained as a confessional Lutheran pastor admitted that.
Even among Lutherans there is a huge division about that. I remember learning about them in Lutheran School when I was young. Its a sore spot, that.

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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2011, 05:15:03 PM »

Despite growing up in a wholeheartedly Lutheran country, attending Lutheran services and attempting to understand Lutheran dogmatics I've never fully understood why Lutherans have so negative view of RC/Orthodox view on salvation. Lutherans have always implicitly believed that good works are essential part of salvation.
Are you sure about that? Luther wanted to throw out the epistle of St. James precisely because it mentioned good works and not just faith alone as a requirement for justification.

I haven't read what Luther himself though on the issue but Lutherans that I've met admit that justification must come out as good works. Without those one is not truly saved in the end. Even a friend of mine who was recently ordained as a confessional Lutheran pastor admitted that.
Even among Lutherans there is a huge division about that. I remember learning about them in Lutheran School when I was young. Its a sore spot, that.

PP

I guess due to downfall of modern Lutheranism everything can be termed as "Lutheran" but I've yet to meet a Lutheran who dispute what I was saying after carefully explaining the different perspective and different terms. After all, Antinomianism was rejected centuries ago by Lutherans.

Of course, I'm not indifferent on the issue. While I don't think Lutherans reject what the Church actually teaches I believe our way of expressing things is superior to that of Protestans of all variety.
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2011, 05:19:23 PM »

To get back to the Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox  theologian, Lucian Turcescu, wrote a paper on Orthodoxy and Lutheran Justification.
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2011, 05:22:00 PM »

To get back to the Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox  theologian, Lucian Turcescu, wrote a paper on Orthodoxy and Lutheran Justification.
I'd like to read it. Is on the interwebs somewhere?

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« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2011, 05:32:03 PM »

This document was drafted and signed 12 years ago. What implications would we expect to see that we haven't seen already?
We Orthodox have never signed a joint statement on justification with either Lutherans or Roman Catholics (and I personally doubt we ever will), so presumably the implications for Orthodox/Roman Catholic discussion isn't a dead issue yet, and it is still regarded by many as a major issue.

We are still discussing other matters which were drafted and signed even longer ago than 12 years, like the Nicene Creed. Is there some reason we shouldn't? There has also been a marked increase in the rejection of the Lutheran doctrine of justification among major academics (as described above) which it seems to me is worth discussing anew. References to reactions in the last 12 years are certainly welcome.





I dunno. I've kind of forced myself not to think anymore in terms of, "x is what God does, y is what we do; balance the equation." It doesn't seem like Orthodox theology really does either. Without some ultimate fuzziness, you wind up in the "Lordship Salvation vs. Free Grace" debate from the 90s, among other kerfluffles.
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« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2011, 05:45:47 PM »

With the near universal rejection of the Lutheran paradigm among major contemporary Pauline scholars, it seems to me the Roman Catholics have hitched their horse to a burning wagon.
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2011, 06:06:15 PM »

With the near universal rejection of the Lutheran paradigm among major contemporary Pauline scholars, it seems to me the Roman Catholics have hitched their horse to a burning wagon.

IIRC, waning of traditional Lutheran paradigm among mainstream Lutherans was the thing that made this decleration possible. That's why the more traditional Lutherans don't like it.
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2011, 06:14:57 PM »

With the near universal rejection of the Lutheran paradigm among major contemporary Pauline scholars, it seems to me the Roman Catholics have hitched their horse to a burning wagon.

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« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2011, 06:27:00 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

This whole debate is just a matter of misunderstood semantics.  The "works" which we profess in Orthodox are not necessarily those same which folks from Protestant traditions have in their mind's eyes.  Our works are a matter of Synergy, not sole human activity.  We do not "work" for Salvation, we cooperate with the saving works/activities of God in our lives.  God alone grants Salvation, healing, reconciliation, but we must like the Virgin Mary accept and embrace His actions in our lives.  He is always acting, are we cooperating in synergy with His actions?

"Works" are simply "energia" and these are not implicitly labors of the physical kind, nor are they actions which result in an earned or accumulated rewards.  It is simply an action, an activity, a happening, and event.  

Many folks discredit the "works" doctrines because of a blatant misunderstanding of what "works" mean, such as many folks think it is implying that charity, fasting, alms-giving, Scripture reading, prayer, attending Liturgy, receiving Communion are the means to Salvation and Healing, however that is not true.  We do not "work" for Salvation in the sense of earning a wage like we labor in our lives for our daily bread.  The "works" we cooperate with God in doing are spiritual, not physical.  It is an open acceptance and embracing of the Will of God in our midst, at every moment.  

The Church doesn't teach that we can "work" our way to Salvation, we maintain the Pauline ideas of Grace, however Saint James is not neglected, rather by incorporating James and Paul we get a fuller understanding, not a dichotomy.  We do not "work" for Grace, we work with and through Grace.  Grace gives us the Life and effort to even be able to work in the first place.

The Works we must maintain are simply our Faith in the verb sense, they are not tit for tat, quid pro quo, or any such philosophy, rather, God is always energizing and acting in our lives, and these are God's "works" and when we consign and cooperate with God's actions, we are also "working" but not of ourselves, but rather through His Grace, as on our own we can accomplish NOTHING.  The whole crux of the Law was that it is quite literally impossible for the Jews to have followed, implemented, or maintained all of its statues, which is precisely why it is written in Ezekiel 20:25, "Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they could not live."  The very reason for the Incarnation was to establish the New Covenant Church that through the Divine Mysteries humanity could finally achieve what is impossible by our own merits, to act in harmony and synergy with God.


stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2011, 06:38:43 PM »

Question 1 (to Roman Catholics): Would you as a Roman Catholic maintain both (a) Lutherans and Roman Catholic soteriology is essentially the same at the end of the day viz. doctrines of justification and merit per the Joint Declaration and (b) Orthodox soteriology is then the same on some fundamental level as the Lutherans viz. doctrines of justification and merit? Why or why not?

I'm not RC, but IIRC the statement itself says that they are not in full agreement with each other, only agree on a few points, and that agreement on those few points is not sufficient for full unity.

Quote
Question 3 (to Orthodox Christians): Do you as an Orthodox Christian see the Orthodox Church embracing the Lutheran doctrine of justification to the extent the Roman Catholics have in their joint declaration?

The best we can do is adjust our terminology to speak to them using their own theological language to explain what we already believe.

Quote
Would this be a factor in assessing prospects for eventual reunion with Rome?

I doubt it. We have a common tradition with Rome in which both of our beliefs are rooted, even if we disagree on how well one side or the other has stayed true to those roots. I've noticed that while Orthodoxy typically (there are exceptions) avoids using RC expression for teaching, the manner in which Orthodoxy expresses most of it's beliefs is not a major probem for most Catholics, or even for Rome on an official level. It's only on a few major issues that we really have any major disagrement, some of which would just go away if there wasn't the insistence on dogmatizing certain issues instead of leaving them as theological opinions (accepting the filioque in theology while removing it from the creed for example) or organizational practice that could be changed to adjust to developing relations (our disagreements on the papacy for example). Also the acceptance and acknowledgement that many post-schism expressions of the faith (palamism for example) are in reaction to time and place specific controversies would be of much greater benefit to RC-Orthodox relations.

Just my opinion.
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2011, 11:16:52 PM »

I'm not RC, but IIRC the statement itself says that they are not in full agreement with each other, only agree on a few points, and that agreement on those few points is not sufficient for full unity.
This is a valid point, but F. Thielman is citing elements common to Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism which Luther himself derived from medieval Roman Catholicism as being rejected by a consensus of major contemporary Pauline scholars. This suggests problems for Lutheran and Roman Catholicism today includes key elements within the circle of what they (Ls and RCs) agree on -they are hitched together to a burning wagon. Also if one looks at the second link below, it is easy to see the notion of justification as elevation of a person to a covenant relationship centered in union with Christ, as the Orthodox Study Bible has it (p. 1529), is perfectly at home with what many major contemporary academics are sayingabout dikaiosyne (justification/righteousness) today.

Quote
“It is easy, when reading Luther, to concentrate on the theological argument with the Roman Catholic Church in which he is so energetically engaged and to miss a subtle hermeneutical impropriety in which the great Reformer and theologian has indulged. Especially in his lectures on Galatians, but elsewhere as well, Luther assumes that the Jews against whose view of the law Paul was arguing held the same theology of justification as the medieval Roman Catholic Church. This hermeneutical error would be perpetuated over the next four centuries and eventually serve as the organizing principle for mountains of Protestant scholarship on the Old Testament and ancient Judaism... Without question the pivotal event ...was the publication in 1977 of E. P. Sander’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism... Largely as a result of this important work [E. P. Sander’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism], most students of Pauline theology now believe that Montefiore, Sanders, and other dissenters from the classic Protestant perspective have proven their case…” (F. Thielman, “Law” in Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, eds., Dictionary of Paul and His Letters: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (1993).

For a fuller text of this article see further here. For a survey of the increasing abandonment of the Lutheran paradigm of justification in mainstream Western scholarship, see further here.

For another example which in more recent academic literature is increasingly on the defensive, the Latin Catholic tradition (though only since the Middle Ages) insisted upon the sense of propitiation rather than expiation viz. the Greek word hilasterion, as also has classical Calvinist interpretation. Historically the emphasis upon a change in God’s attitude rather than a change of man’s condition arose in the middle ages with Anselm, according to whom man had broken honor with his liege Lord; because his honor was slighted “satisfaction” had to be made (civil law model rather than criminal law; pivotal for subsequent developments of Latin Catholic theories of merit, superabundant merit, storehouses of merit, indulgences, and Protestant redirection of soteriological merit to the infinite merit of Christ (Protestant soteriologies are actually soteriologies of merit -the focus of merit/satisfaction is simply shifted from man to Christ (on the basics of the conceptual origin and development of Latin Catholic and Protestant theologies of merit -from condign merit to congruent merit in the Christian West- see further here and here Eastern Orthodox Christian theology bypassed this particular Western controversy entirely as they never adopted a soteriology of merit/satisfaction (ala Anselm): the atonement is purely grace/gifting rather than merit/earning even on the divine side).
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