Monday, October 12, 2009

Trent on Justification - Canon Two

In Canon I on Justification, the Council of Trent condemns the error of supposing that man may attain justification on his own apart from grace, as we observed previously. In Canon II, the Fathers of Trent reject a similar error.

If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

God does not give us grace so that we can be justified by our own efforts.

It seem pretty clear, in light of these first two canons, that if the Church condemns the idea that we can be justified by our works apart from grace, or that we can be justified by our own actions if God helps us, that there is no remaining sense in which it can be said that we are justified by anything that we do – with or without grace. Hence we must say that we are justified by God's grace, or not at all. This is completely in keeping with what the Decree on Justification teaches in §7. So much, then, for the canards of the Church's enemies who say that she teaches otherwise. We are saved by grace. Period.

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