justification (was Re: Adam and Eve)

From: george murphy (gmurphy@raex.com)
Date: Thu May 02 2002 - 09:16:36 EDT

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    Robert Schneider wrote:

    > See my remark below:
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "george murphy" <gmurphy@raex.com>
    > To: "JW Burgeson" <hoss_radbourne@hotmail.com>
    > Cc: <rjschn39@bellsouth.net>; <asa@calvin.edu>
    > Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2002 1:38 PM
    > Subject: Re: Adam and Eve
    > > JW Burgeson wrote:
    > >
    > > > Robert wrote: "If Christianity is the Way, it is a way of good works."
    > > >
    > > > OPosted o my PC monitor I have a quotation
    > > > from Leonardo Boff which reads:
    > > >
    > > > "The eternal destiny of human beings
    > > > will be measured by how much or how little solidarity
    > > > we have displayed with the hungry, the thirsty,
    > > > the naked, and the oppressed.
    > > > In the end, we will be judged in terms of love."
    > >
    > > This kind of thing is why the Reformation was necessary.
    > > George
    > >
    > It sounds as if Boff was commenting on Matt. 25:31-41. Did the Reformers
    > decide that that parable has nothing to do with the Christian life, and that
    > one is not to take literally the judgments given by the Son of Man? Did
    > they decide that one should only read Eph. 2:8-9 and ignore 10? Are we to
    > say, "Lord, Lord" and "well, I'm saved and that's all that matters" like the
    > Lutheran minister in the joke? I can't put my hands on my copy of the Joint
    > Roman Catholic-Lutheran Statement on Justification, but I believe there is a
    > statement in it to the effect that failure to show works of mercy to others
    > would call into question whether the person is really living a life of faith
    > and has been saved. George, do you have it handy and can look that up and
    > get the accurate wording?
    > I cannot imagine that we ought not to take seriously the message in the
    > Parable of the Coming of the Son of Man, or the message in Eph. 2:10 that
    > God has prepared beforehand a way of good works to be our way of life--and
    > embark upon it. I agree with Boff that in the end, we will be judged in
    > terms of love. Thank God, we shall be shown mercy as well as judgment.

             The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification does not contain
    the statement you make.
    What it says (para.37) is:
             "We confess together that good works - a Christian life lived in faith,
    hope, and love - follow justification and are its fruits." When the justified
    live in Christ and act in the grace they receive, they bring forth, in biblical
    terms, good fruit. Since Christians struggle against sin their entire lives,
    this consequence of justification is also for them an obligation they must
    fulfill. Thus both Jesus and the apostolic Scriptures admonish Christians to
    bring forth the works of love."
             & in fact Luther & the Lutheran tradition generally (in spite of my
    earlier joke) have always taught that good works are a consequence of living
    faith & are expected of Christians. What we have argued strenuously against is
    the notion that good works themselves justify. & in fact anyone can see the
    elementary error in the following argument:
             Those who have a living faith are saved.
             Those who have a living faith do good works.
             Therefore we are saved by doing good works.
             Good works are, if you will, a symptom of living faith, & one can
    understand the parable of the last judgment in this sense. While one has to be
    careful about harmonizing Paul & Matthew, it is really necessary to read
    Mt.25:31-46 in the light of Romans & Galatians, not the other way around.
    You can do justice to the Matthean text in that way, but if you interpret the
    Matthew text as teaching salvation by works & then try to make sense of Paul in
    that light you have to distort or mutilate Paul.
             Your rhetorical questions envision a straw man, an understanding of
    "justification by faith" in which one is saved by mere historic
    faith, assensus,
    or by reciting the Apostle's Creed. That is of course a complete
    misreading. &
    this straw man is able to maintain some semblance of life only because you
    ignore what I said earlier about the relationship of Eph.2:10 to 8-9. I am not
    ignoring v.10 but am understanding it in relationship with 8-9. You, on the
    other hand, seem to want to downplay 8-9.
             I realize that this has a somewhat polemical tone but in this case I
    won't apologize for that. There is good reason why the doctrine of
    justification has been called articulus stantis et cadentis ecclessiae.

    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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