Saturday, January 23, 2010

Trent on Justification - Canon 26

Trent’s 26th canon on justification concerns the question of God rewarding the deeds of the righteous.

If any one saith, that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God, through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well doing and in keeping the divine commandments; let him be anathema.

This seems to me to be a matter of simple symmetry: if the wicked receive punishment for their deeds, it seems ridiculous to pretend that the Christian will receive nothing for his good works. Even so, as the canon makes clear, the true merit inhering in our good works comes from the merit of Jesus Christ: so that we cannot claim to “deserve” anything.

In any case, a reward for those who have already been justified is beside the point of whether they receive justification by grace alone, which we have argued to be the case in this series and which is certainly not contradicted by this canon.

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