Infused vs Imputed

My husband and I have been discussing righteousness and the way in which we receive it from God. I’m a little unclear as to the difference between Catholic and Protestant viewpoints on the matter, but I seem to recall it has something to do with the distinction between infused and imputed righteousness. Could anyone offer any clarification - biblical support would be much appreciated.

QUOTE=Eruvande;11828691]My husband and I have been discussing righteousness and the way in which we receive it from God. I’m a little unclear as to the difference between Catholic and Protestant viewpoints on the matter, but I seem to recall it has something to do with the distinction between infused and imputed righteousness. Could anyone offer any clarification - biblical support would be much appreciated.

I believe the distinction is that imputed refers to Martin Luthers concept of being covered of your sins by Christs death and resurrection. His image of “dung” being covered by white snow , I believe , was supposed to illustrate the concept.

Infused righteousness, on the other hand, is what the Catholic Church has taught. That is that we actually become holy, and righteous. Being a cradle Catholic, I wont be able to quote book and verse, but I do know that bible states Christ tells us “be holy like me”. To me that means Christs righteousness was not righteousness represented by dung being covered by snow and therefore ours should not be either. By saying we must be holy and righteous like Him, we must be actually holy and righteous. Of course we cannot do this under our own power, but only through His grace and through our confession of sin. When we confess our sins and live in HIm, we are infused with actual grace and righteousness, His righteousness, just as He commanded.

I believe other scripture also points out that we are to be actually holy, as when he tell the wealthy young disciple what he must do to have eternal life. He tells the man he must follow the commandments and follow Christ. This is NOT works salvation, but through our imitation of Christ, which means following HIm in EVERY way, we are infused with actual grace, actual righteousness.

I believe, the distinction arises partly due to Luthers early Calvinistic idea that the soul is totally depraved and incapable of actual righteousness, so the best we can hope for is an imputed or covering righteousness. Catholicism does not teach such a doctrine of depravity. It teaches that due to original sin , we are naturally inclined to evil ,but are capable of goodness. Of course true goodness comes only through Gods grace, but nevertheless, original sin does not so completely damage our souls as to be incapable of goodness that is pleasing to God. I believe that is why the idea of imputed righteousness was developed. If we are totally depraved, the soul could never be actually entirely holy, just legally declared righteousness for our acceptance of Christ.

Catholic teaching says despite our fallen nature, Gods grace can actually infuse us with actual and real holiness that is just like Christ, and the bible says that nothing unholy can enter heaven. Catholicism teaches that we must have actual and infused holiness and will not t just be declared or imputed righteousness/holiness.

I may be way off here. But this is my understanding. Im sure someone will correct or clarify. God bless!

I would recommend some articles. It’s a little deep of a subject to explain in a few words! :slight_smile:

James Akin on Righteousness and Merit - it doesn’t mention infusion and imputation but it still deals with those kinds of issues
Dr. Lawrence Feingold on St. Paul and Justification - he mentions imputation a couple times but the main focus is St. Paul’s biblical doctrine on infusion and justification.
James White: Solo Gratia, Solo Christo - this is a lecture by a Protestant who shortly afterwards entered the Catholic Church. It shows how infusion AND imputation can be understood within the Catholic framework.
A Catholic analysis of imputation and its implications for the Lord’s Prayer

And a quote from Dr. Bryan Cross in this article sums up the difference nicely:

From a Catholic point of view the righteous robes of the saints are a symbol of the agape infused into our hearts, not intended to be treated as covering over remaining filth, but as replacing sin with the gift of true righteousness.

I’m not a great authority on this but I’ll give my 2 cents worth.

Righteousness (or justification) is imputed at baptism, but in order to remain in this state one must embrace that which is imputed and make it their own.

There is an analogy where this is explained and it uses a recipe for making pickles that was written in Greek before the time of Christ and uses the term “Baptizo” in a couple of different ways.

First the cucumbers are “baptized” by dipping and washing them. Naturally this cleans them but does not change them. They remain cucumbers.
Then they are “baptized” (a different form of the Greek) by immersing in them in a brine that seeps into them and changes them from cucumbers to pickles.

Another analogy might be a person who comes before a judge and claims to be a changed person and asks for leniency. The Judge sets aside his crime and releases him. However, the innocence of the man before the judge now depends upon his future conduct. Will he make good on his supposed change? Only if he truly embraces the change.

In the above, the Judge “imputes”, but it is up to the one pardoned to now embrace and infuse that righteousness into their very being.

In short. Imputed and infused need not stand in opposition to each other. Each is a part of a greater whole.

Peace
James

St Paul says: “They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). For catholics, we are made righteous before God when God forgives us our sins and infuses into our souls sanctifying grace such as at baptism. Original sin and personal sins leave stains on our souls. These stains are removed from our souls when God forgives us and infuses His grace as it is written in Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
they may become white as wool.”

On the other hand, Martin Luther’s teaching and I presume most protestants is that God covers over our sins and stains of soul like a blanket covering when they accept Jesus as savior. The soul is still stained, dark, and ugly but God simply overlooks it. The essence of the soul is not cleansed and made brightsome as in the catholic teaching. The catholic teaching is that sanctifying grace is a quality of the soul that God infuses into the very essence of the soul that makes it brightsome and cleanses it of all impurities.

The best way I’ve heard it is God said “Let there be light.” And there was light.

If God says it, it is. He is truth. He can’t say it and it not be. (Also, Jesus being. God, this is an excellent reading of the words of institution.)

As my father in law believes God says it, so we are made to appear righteous. We however could never be righteous. (unchurched Baptist evangelical)

As I was taught, God says it and it becomes so. Doesn’t mean I’m holy every moment, or at least many moments, but it means through life and purgatory I’m given the tests to become what he says I am (being a temporal being.). (Catholic)

Not really. Firstly, Lutheranism doesn’t allow for phrasing like “accepting Jesus as your Savior.” That would imply a choice to do good. Lutherans do not understand humans to be capable of good on their own and apart from the Spirit. Instead, Lutherans understand our nature to be inherently sinful due to the Fall; we cannot, of ourselves, choose God - it is God Who chooses us (hence the deep, deep Lutheran insistence on the Theology of the Cross).

As for the analogy, well… I’ve read a lot of Luther, but I’ve never read that quote in any of his original works. I’m not sure it can be proven he ever said it, but it seems to be quite the popular urban myth. I encourage you to read this examination: arkiv.lbk.cc/faq/site.pl@1518cutopic_topicid45cuitem_itemid8787.htm

It is not so simple as ‘tricking’ God into only seeing Jesus instead of our sinful natures. That truly would be a silly belief. Instead, Lutherans understand ourselves to be simultaneously sinner and saint - with a believer’s sinful nature being overcome with the light of the Spirit at work within them, which sanctifies us by Grace received in the Sacraments and the living of His Word, through Faith in Him.

Thank you all, most helpful. Upon discussing it late into the night, my husband made the rather shocking admission that he thought he agreed with the Catholic position more than the Calvinist one.:eek:

Also, I think some of the clearest examples in Scripture that righteousness is real and not just a “legal” declaration on God’s part is the fact that Jesus ACTUALLY healed the sick. In doing so, he shows what happens when a person is spiritually healed. For instance, in the story of the paralytic (the guy lowered through the ceiling), Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven, and then Jesus says, “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the man who was paralyzed – “I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.” (Lk 5:24). You see how he tells the crowd here that he is showing them the physical healing to represent the “forgiveness” of sins that took place which they could not physically see.

That’s wonderful.

It’s been my experience in having such discussions that once we get through all the rhetoric…and really communicate…our positions are usually not very far apart.

Often times I’ve noticed that a protestant will present a view in an “either/or” sort of way.
Justification is either imputed OR infused…
We are saved by faith OR works…

The Catholic Church takes a much more inclusive approach, an “and” approach.
Justification is imputed when our sins are forgiven at baptism (or confession),
Justification is infused as we grow in faith and sanctity,

We are saved by faith and by works working together…the two things cannot be separated.

I don’t know why there is this tendency among some protestants to try to drive wedges into such things.

Peace
James

I’m sorry, but this is not correct. To refer to justification being “imputed” at baptism, rather than infused, seems to reject the doctriine of baptismal regeneration. The idea of “imputed” righteousness is that we are not really righteous, but God, as it were, holds his nose at our continuing stench and then treats us as if we really were righteous (even though deep down we aren’t.) The concept of “imputed” righteous was explicitly rejected by the Council of Trent as a heresy, and was anathematized by Canon XI of that Council’s “Decree on Justification”:

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

The orthodox Catholic belief – which is defined in the Council of Trent’s “Decree on Justification” – is the following:

This disposition, or preparation, is followed by Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, **but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, **through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend, that so he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.

Of this Justification the causes are these: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting; while the efficient cause is a merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing, and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance; but 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 Justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father; the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified; lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, **and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, **receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation. For, although no one can be just, but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.

Here is one translation of the Decree on Justification,
history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct06.html
and here is another in slightly more modern language:
ewtn.com/library/councils/trent6.htm

Not my intention at all.

The idea of “imputed” righteousness is that we are not really righteous, but God, as it were, holds his nose at our continuing stench and then treats us as if we really were righteous (even though deep down we aren’t.) The concept of “imputed” righteous was explicitly rejected by the Council of Trent as a heresy, and was anathematized by Canon XI of that Council’s “Decree on Justification”:

Remember though that when talking with a protestant - and they with you - there can be cases where the same words can be used but different meanings, different understandings applied.
It is important to get at the root meanings that each is using so that true understanding can come.
This is why I speak in this way.

Trent says this…
CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.
Note that where you emphasized “imputation” I have emphasized “sole”. This makes my point nicely. The Church does not deny the idea of imputed justification - what it rejects is the idea of “sole”. The rest of the quote you provided really goes on to explain this.

So you see I am not denying any teaching of the Church. Rather, I try to put these things in a way that makes sense to a protestant who is trying to understand.

As I said in my previous post, there is so often a tendency among some protestant groups to make these things an “either / or” equation. The Church in her teaching, as shown by the quotes you provide, rejects such dissection of one thing from another.

Peace
James

vivacatholic.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/infused-righteousness-versus-imputed-righteousness-which-one-entitles-us-to-enter-heaven/

The reason why Protestants are against infused righteousness is they view it as work-based justification, in contradiction to their concept of faith alone justification. Catholics do not believe in working on or earning our justification either. God’s Grace always first moves us to do righteous acts, be they believe in Christ, love one another, repenting etc. This means without His Grace we can neither do them nor even have the initiative to do them. Protestants, while insist on justification by faith alone, at the end of the day have to admit that faith that justifies is not alone as what Rev. Sears, quoting from Calvin, wrote below (emphasis added):

Calvin said, “When we say a man is justified by faith alone, we do not fancy a faith devoid of charity, but we mean that faith alone is the cause of justification.” Again Calvin makes this remarkable statement “I wish the reader to understand that as often as we mention Faith alone in this question, we are not thinking of a dead faith, which worketh not by love, but holding faith to be the only cause of justification. It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone.”

CCC, 1999 “The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification: …]”

Righteousness is infused in Baptism. Is it both infused and imputed in Baptism?

In speaking with a protestant who is coming from a background of imputed or forensic justification I would ay yes.

Consider that at infant baptism, the child is unable to actively cooperate with the gift received. As an infant, he may be sanctified, but as he grows he has ever greater responsibility to cooperate with the graces he has received.
As we all know, we tend to fail at this cooperation form time to time :rolleyes:…I know I do. Then we turn back to God through confession and penance.

Of course if a person is baptized as an adult, their responsibility to cooperate is full and immediate.

The imputation aspect (for the protestant) would be that, even though we are not fully sanctified (become perfect - Mt 5:48) at baptism, we are seen as fully justified. the infused aspect of it (again for the protestant) would be the growing in holiness…the embracing and cooperating with the graces that are infused in us at baptism and through the sacraments.

In choosing to explain it this way, I am not denying the Church’s teaching.
Instead, I am using the protestant’s own view and way of speaking in order to communicate the fuller truth of the Catholic faith. I have had some good success with this approach.

Peace
James

Thanks for your contribution to this thread. I look forward to other comments you have to make concerning the Missouri Synod. I have bought books from their bookstore.

I must disagree with this again. The root of infuse (or infundere in Latin) is the verb “fundere”, meaning to pour. Grace that is infused is poured into our souls. The Latin “imputare”, on the other hand, is part of the language of accounting, and it means to attribute (such as you would attribute either a debt or a credit to an account) or ascribe. When you say that justification is “imputed” it means that our “account” is treated as if all payments have been made, even if in fact the account is empty. There is thus a fundamental difference in meaning: to speak of “imputed” justification means it is irrelevant whether there is any grace in the soul, or whether the sould is truly regenerate at baptism, while to speak of “infused” justification is to say that the Holy Spirit truly has poured grace into our soul, and there is true spiritual regeneration.

A newly baptized person is not merely “seen” as fully justified, but IS justified. As the Council of Trent explicitly stated,

This disposition, or preparation, is followed by Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend, that so he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.

The council further stated that the “instrumental cause [of Justification] is the sacrament of baptism”, and that

the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation.

It is thus explicitly clear that the newly baptized are both justified and sanctified, and that this is the result not of God turning a blind eye to our continuing deficiencies, but to the pouring of grace into our souls – which infusion of grace does not leave us in the same condition with merely a new label attached, but which instead truly works a change in the character and quality of our souls.

An assertion that we are not truly, really, and actually justified and sanctified by baptism, but that we are only reputed to be, or considered, or treated as if we were, or merely seen as being, justified and sanctified (and that only partially), is simply not the expressly and authoritatively defined faith of the Catholic Church, but is instead heresy.

Much of what you have written above is precisely how a protestant would look at the matter and, because of this, they sometimes cannot understand the Catholic perspective.
It is for this reason that I choose to express the Catholic view as I do.

I do thank you for your careful and informative posts on the matter.

Peace
James

:tiphat: I’m glad you found it useful. I’ll pop in every now and then. Typically when someone misattributes something to Luther or conflates the man with the communions that bear his name.

A chief difference is that Protestants believe that justifying righteousness is completely “alien” (i.e. apart from the believer) whereas Catholics believe that when God justifies, he washes away sin and changes the believer making them righteous and beautiful in his sight. Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. Therefore, justice is not alien (though it is from an external source, viz. God), but inherent. On the other view, here is a rather well-known clip from R.C. Sproul giving the typical Protestant view.

youtu.be/IapqqQ45Q4w

Of course, the problem is that this is not taught in Scripture, or, even if we assume it were, it is very obscure and never explicit (not to mention contradicted). For example, one infamous passage is Romans 4:3-5.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted [or “imputed”] unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Doesn’t this prove the Protestant doctrine of justification? It even uses the word “imputation.” Not at all. The problem is that “impute” means to reckon something as it is actually seen, not to reckon something as something that it is known not be. Even if we could say nothing else (and we could say a lot), the first thing to note is that for believers faith (which must be either something inhering in the believer or something done by the believer) is imputed as righteousness. This is a complete contradiction of Protestant doctrine. They believe that nothing in us nor anything we do has any role whatsoever to play in God’s judgment of us. However, if you read Scripture according to a Catholic lens, things will make much more sense (whereas Protestants who adhere to “imputed justification” have to dismiss a very significant portion of the New Testament as pure hypotheticals).

I encourage you to browse the links Steymard posted earlier in the thread if you have not done so.

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