Blog Template Theology of the Body: Did Trent Rule out all Variants on Imputation?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Did Trent Rule out all Variants on Imputation?

...I think not. Here's why, drawing from Kenneth Howell at Biblical Evidence for Catholicism.

The Canons of the Council of Trent, Canon 11 (Sixth Session) responded to Protestant proposals about justification sola fide as follows:

"If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace of and charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema."

As Howell explains, this statement does not exclude the notion of imputation; it only denies that justification consists solely in imputation, in as much as we are told in Scripture that faith without works is dead, and in as much as we know that if we do not have love, we have nothing.

Howell considers further the Tridentine Canons 9,10, and 11. Canon 9 does not deny salvation sola fide, but rejects the minimal interpretation of that notion: "If anyone says that the impious are justified by faith alone, so that he understands by this that nothing else is required in which he cooperates in working out the grace of justification, and that it is not necessary at all that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his will, let him be anathema."

Canon 9 thus only anathemztizes such a reduced form of the sola fide doctrine that would urge that no outworking of that faith is necessary. This canon in no way says that the imputation of justification is not true, but only that it is heretical to hold that justification consists solely in imputation.

To be continued...