RSiscoe asked the following:
[size=3]Are we justified by faith alone?
Joint Declaration with the Lutheran Church: “41. Thus the doctrinal condemnations of the 16th century, in so far as they are related to the doctrine of justification, appear in a new light: The teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this Declaration do not fall under the condemnations from the Council of Trent.”
“26. According to Lutheran understanding, God justifies sinners in faith alone (sola fide). In faith they place their trust wholly in their Creator and Redeemer and thus live in communion with him.”
According to the “Joint Declaration” the heresy of justification by “faith alone” (see above) does not fall under the anathema of Trent. Do you believe that?
But that is not all, in the “Annex to the Official Common Statement,” the Vatican and the Lutherans together declare their common doctrine of justification by faith alone:
“Justification takes place by grace alone, by faith alone, the person is justified apart from works” (Annex, # 2, C).
Do you believe we are saved by faith alone - sola fide? If not, why not; if so, how do you reconcile that with this:
“If anyone shall say that by faith alone the sinner is justified… let him be anathema.” (Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Can. 9)
Now, which are we to believe? That we are justified by faith alone, or that justification by faith alone is a heresy? The Church teaches infallibly that justification by faith alone is a heresy, and that anyone who says we are justified by faith alone “is anathema”. John Paul II signed the above declaration thus agreeing that we are justified by faith alone. Do you agree with John Paul II? If not, why not?
Firstly, let me say in the beginning that there are many other things for which Lutherans are anathema, apart from any understanding of the Doctrine of Justification. As such, one ought not to mistakenly think that Lutheranism is no longer heretical.
Secondly, I think it’s prudent to look at the full text of canon 9 you mentioned above, so we have a better appreciation for what is “anathema.”
From Denzinger’s *Enchiridion Symbolorum, *819:
[size=3]Canon 9. If anyone shall say that by faith alone the sinner is justified, so as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification, and that it is in no way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will: let him be anathama." [see also Denzinger 798, 801, 804]
It seems that not just any sort of assertion that has the phrase “faith alone” in it is anathema, but Trent is condemning a rather specific “faith alone” doctrine. The specific faith alone doctrine condemned is one that asserted, "nothing else is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification and it is in no way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will.
Asserted positively, Catholic theology insists: “***the sinner can and must prepare himself by the help of actual grace for the reception of the grace by which he is justified.***” (Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 252), and “***Besides faith, further acts of disposition must be present. ***[eg. charity, hope]***” ***(Ott, pg. 253).
As such, Trent condemns any understanding of the “faith alone” doctrine which asserts that a merely fiduciary faith apart from hope or love is the sole cause of justification, and that cooperation with antecedent actual grace is not required for justification.
to be continued …