Thursday, July 2, 2009

St. Thomas on Justification - Only grace remits guilt

In a previous post we saw (while discussing the fact that grace justifies perfectly) that St. Thomas addressed the question of whether circumcision was a means of grace. Our primary interest for this series is that he insists in that discussion that we are only justified from sin by grace.

There have been many opinions about Circumcision. For, according to some, Circumcision conferred no grace, but only remitted sin. But this is impossible; because man is not justified from sin save by grace, according to Romans 3:24: "Being justified freely by His grace." [ST III, Q62, A6, ad 3]

In today's episode, we consider a further discussion by Aquinas related to circumcision, because once again he says something relevant to the question of our justification.

All are agreed in saying that original sin was remitted in circumcision. But some said that no grace was conferred, and that the only effect was to remit sin. The Master holds this opinion (Sent. iv, D, 1), and in a gloss on Romans 4:11. But this is impossible, since guilt is not remitted except by grace, according to Romans 3:2 [sic; however, he means Rom. 3:24 - RdP]: "Being justified freely by His grace," etc. [ST III Q70 A4; emphasis added]

Grace justifies perfectly, as we saw previously; and grace alone justifies us from sin, as we see above. What room, then, is there for the canard that we believe in a works-based "gospel"? As we see, this is not possible.

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