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
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?