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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

For twenty-seven years, representatives from both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches (i.e. theologians, Bishops, Priests, Cardinals, etc.) gathered at various times and places to discuss their differences. After twenty-seven years of published dialogue of each of the meetings at various times, on October 31, 1999 (Reformation Day) a joint declaration was drawn up, issued and signed. With regard to the issue of justification this is what the declaration stated (and both parties agreed and signed their consent).

“We believe that God’s creative graciousness is offered to us and to everyone for healing and reconciliation so that through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, ‘who was put to death for our transgressions and raised for our justification’ (Rom. 4:25), we are called to pass from the alienation and oppression of sin to freedom and fellowship with God in the Holy Spirit. It is not through our own initiative that we respond to this call, but only through an undeserved gift which is granted and made known in faith, and which comes to fruition in our love of God and neighbor, as we are led by the Spirit in faith to bear witness to the divine gift in all aspects of our lives. This faith gives us hope for ourselves and for all humanity and gives us confidence that salvation in Christ will always be proclaimed as the gospel, the good news for which the world is searching.”

The interesting thing about these meetings was the agreement on definition. The declaration went on to state:

“Justification is the forgiveness of sins, liberation from the dominating power of sin and death, and from the curse of the law. It is acceptance into communion with God: already now, but then full in God’s coming kingdom. It unites with Christ and with his death and resurrection. It occurs in the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism and incorporation into the one body. All this from God alone, for Christ’s sake, by grace, through faith, in “the gospel of God’s Son.”

With issue to at least one tenet of the Reformation, sola gratia, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification had this to say:

“Together we confess: by grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works. . . . Faith is itself a gift through the Holy Spirit who works through word and sacrament in the community of believers and who, at the same time, leads believers into the renewal of life which God will bring to completion in eternal life . . . Our new life is solely due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we receive in faith, and never can merit it in any way.”

[If you are interested, you can read about this in Mark Noll's book Is The Reformation Over? ]

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