[quote=Learner]I have been reading about the subject of justification from the catholic encyclopedia and I need some help in understanding the following part of the passage:
My main problem with this passage is that I don’t understand the meanings of the causes. I got stuck on this when trying to explain it to a friend of mine who is protestant. Any help would be appreciated.
From the Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Chapter 7:
“The causes of this justification are:
the final cause is the glory of God and of Christ and life everlasting; the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified finally, the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills, and according to each one’s disposition and cooperation.”
There are various causes to our justification. I also would have a hard time explaining them all to a Catholic, let alone a Protestant. Some make more sense to me than others. But from the above quote, it is at least plain how there can be multiple causes of justification, by focusing on the meritorious and instrumental causes.
Our justification is caused (merited) by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Our justification is caused (applied) through baptism. And ultimately (final cause), it is caused by and for the glory of God. As for the other two causes, I cannot be sure exactly what they mean, but the previous examples give some idea how our justification can be said to be caused by multiple causes.
In discussing with Protestants, I typically would only mention the meritorious and instrumental causes. The rest would only serve to confuse the matter.