Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trent on Justification - Chapter Four

The fourth chapter of the Decree offers a description of justification and connects it to Baptism:

By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

"By which words…" continuing from §3, which ended thus: "[the Father]…hath translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption, and remission of sins." The Fathers of Trent expand further what is to be understood by our "translation" into God's Kingdom. Now if anything ought to be clear, it's that this is not the sort of thing that a man can do himself. You can't move yourself into a state of grace, because you can't give yourself God's grace. The very idea is silly. No, God must give us his grace, and he must move us into a state of grace. Likewise, one cannot make God adopt himself. Such things are beyond our ability, as we have seen at the outset of the Decree in §1. And God has tied this translation to the Sacrament of Baptism.

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