Theology Unplugged: Roman Catholicism – Part 4 – Justification

Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, JJ Seid and Sam Storms as they continue their series on Roman Catholicism by speaking about Justification.


6 Responses to “Theology Unplugged: Roman Catholicism – Part 4 – Justification”

  1. One reason I am enjoying these podcasts is that it helps me to think through my own Catholic beliefs, in order to articulate them clearly for myself in terms of your discussion.

    In this case, I don’t think the ledger template works well to illustrate Cath. ideas of justification. It may work well for the Ev. idea of justification, but when you then try to overlay the ledger onto Cath. justification, it doesn’t fit right. Here’s why:

    1) The ledger distorts the timing of justification. In Catholicism, one is judged on whether they have sanctifiying grace (the life of God within them) at a given point in time, not as a tally of works at the end of life. So a man who has a lifetime of good works, yet commits fornication, would not be in a state of grace/justification. (until he repents!) Yet a baby who has done nothing, then receives the grace of baptism, is justified. The ledger delays justification until a tally at death, which isn’t true to Cath. theology. Justification indeed happens in this life.

    2) The ledger leaves no room for the sacraments. One of you put sacracments in the credit column as payments to God. False! They are not good works we perform for God, but means by which God showers his graces upon us. Not us climbing to God, but God descending to us. By turning sacraments into good deeds, you are dismissing Lutheran theology as well. The Original Protestants!

    I accept that the ledger presents an accurate picture of Ev. justification. But the paradigm breaks down when you try to apply it to Cath. justification, which would instead emphasize Union With Christ/Christ Within Us. Perhaps like a lamp kept burning, or, as Benedict has put it, like Jesus is the needle and we are the thread. We must be “in Christ” or the “grace of Christ” must be within us, and He does indeed, by the sacraments, give us a participation in His life, in the love of the Trinity.

  2. You fairly mentioned that Catholics would be quick to say that their righteousness is the righteousness of Christ within them.

    from Cat. of the Cath. Church paragraph 2011:
    “The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men.”

    It’s my belief that when Jesus redeemed us, he also redeemed our sufferings and our efforts. So that alone, we are nothing. But, like a drop of water (us) in a chalice of wine (him), when united with his sacrifice our efforts and sacrifices have true worth. Christ had to reach down deep into humanity, to tear out evil and suffering by the root, in order to “grab” us, and if we are in union with him, we are then “caught up” into glory with him. That’s how I see it in my mind’s eye anyway.

    I think you are very correct to point out the “location” of the righteousness is key. Imputation vs. infusion. I wonder, do Evangelicals believe God is actually incapable of infusing a man with Christ’s holiness? If he is capable but does not do it, do Evangelicals claim to know a reason for this?

    Here I may be getting theologically over my head, but I’ve always thought that God MUST make men holy in order to live in his presence. Otherwise we would die (like the guy who tried to catch the ark). God’s presence is too much for us as sinners —we would be like a fly in a waterfall or a mouse under a buffalo stampede….like light annihilates darkness. So that is why God infuses his grace (his life, his holiness) into us, and makes us truly holy. What do you all think?

  3. I’m a Christian. I’ve read and heard about God’s plan of Salvation. But I’m not a scholar. Some things I know that I know are true, some things I’m a little fuzzy on, and frankly, with some of the flaky theology out there, it’s hard to know whom to trust.
    In other words, what does the average bonehead like me need to know?
    I think justified for all time, that Jesus paid all, past, present, and future, is one of the most important. Excessive guilt or anxiety over sin is not a part of “answering with a clear consceience” to God, per the scriptures. He wants good works in us, yes, but we could never earn even one tiny bit of justification by doing so. This, perhaps, is the superarrogation of the RC that is tantamout to denial of Sola Fide.
    To answer with a clear conscience, to me, means in part that we do not dwell on our past which is washed away. We can “boldly” go where no man (except Jesus) has gone before: into the true Holy of Holies and lift our heads up, knowing our Father accepts us completely, and for all time.

  4. Hey guys…

    2 charitable suggestions that I hope help…

    1. There is too much time wasted trying to setup the topic or explaining the teaching. Get to the point and discuss both sides of the argument. A 30 min podcast is difficult.

    2. There needs to me a Roman Catholic at the table who can answer the questions and clarify the Catholic position. No matter how hard you try to be balanced and charitable you guys are presenting a bias view. It seems some of the Churches teachings were misrepresented this week. If there is not a Catholic in the mix to defend the Churches view, then these discussions are a waste of time, in my opinion.

    Kindest Regards

  5. I haven’t listened to part two on justification, but is it truly accurate to say that if you accidentally sleep and miss Mass that you’ve committed a mortal sin? My understanding is that there’s a sort of mens rea requirement for mortal sins in that you have to be willfully and deliberately committing what you know to be a serious sin before it counts.

  6. @Aaron,

    Yes, you’re correct. Deliberately deciding not to set your alarm and knowing you will oversleep would be a mortal sin. Sleeping through the alarm you had set is not a mortal sin.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    paragraph 1859
    Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish but rather increase the voluntary character of a sin.

    1860 (in part)
    Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.

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