Saturday, January 2, 2010

Trent on Justification - Canon 16

Canon 16 condemns an error of presumption.

If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.

This canon contradicts an error of the Calvinists, possibly some Lutherans, and (anachronistically but no less certainly) those who since then have believed “once saved, always saved.” No one knows whether he is numbered among the predestinate (apart from a special revelation, as the canon says) because God doesn’t tell us (ordinarily) who belongs to that number in this life. That’s the major reason why many Reformed Protestants neurotically worry whether they are among “the elect.” Typically these folks are counseled by their friends and ministers to not worry about such things. Their arguments for this are typically along the lines of insisting upon errors condemned by the Council in canons 12-14. But it is poor counsel to comfort a man by encouraging him to believe error.

Returning to our primary emphasis in this series, we see that there is nothing in this canon that is contrary to justification by grace alone, nor in any way supporting the false claims of those who say that the Church teaches a justification by some other means than grace alone.

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