Friday, January 22, 2010

Trent on Justification - Canon 24

The 24th canon on justification relates to the increase of justification.

If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

An excellent and helpful description of the distinction between initial justification and subsequent increase of justification may be found here, in an article by Bryan Cross. For our purposes it is sufficient to point out that Trent is of course by no means describing initial justification as caused by good works, but (as the canon says) only the increase of justification, as described in Chapter X of the Decree on Justification; to say otherwise would be to say that the canon contradicts Chapter VII, which would be absurd. This canon does not contradict the doctrine of justification by grace alone; even the obedience that we offer to God as Christians is a gift of God’s grace.

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