Blog Template Theology of the Body: Imputation at Trent? II

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Imputation at Trent? II

Some commentors are puzzled as to why anyone would say that the imputation of Christ's extrinsic righteousness to the repentant sinner might be excluded by Trent.

The only righteousness that justifies is Christ's. But Catholic theology teaches that what is Christ's becomes ours by grace. In fact, Canon 10 anathematizes anyone who denies that we can be justified without Christ's righteousness or anyone who says that we are formally justified by that righteousness alone. Here are the words:

If anyone says that men are justified without Christ's righteousness which he merited for us or that they are formally justified by it itself let him be anathema.

Canon 10 says that Christ's righteousness is both necessary, and not limited to imputation. So, imputation is not excluded but only said to be insufficient.

Catholics hold that the rigid distinction between justification and sanctification so prominent in Reformation theologies is an artificial distinction that Scripture does not support. When one takes into account the whole of Scripture, especially James's and Jesus's teaching on the necessity of perfection for salvation (e.g. Matthew 5;8), Catholics understand that man cannot be simul justus et peccator. Transformational righteousness is absolutely essential for final salvation. Once one realizes this, the entire Catholic system of sacraments, purgatory etc. fits into a coherent pattern.

...But does this mean that "imputation ... is totally foreign to Catholic thought?" I am not sure it does.

To be continued...