Monday, May 28, 2007

Double Standards

"I have said over and over again that I have used McGrath to show that Luther's interpretation is novel and that gives a reason to reject the Protestant's view on justification."

Note the double standard. When the same historical standard is applied to certain Roman Catholic dogmas, like Mary’s Bodily Assumption, Purgatory, Indulgences, etc., this same historical standard is swept under the rug and hidden. One has to seriously question why a standard that Catholic apologists hold Protestants to is not likewise applied to their own beliefs. Wade through the corridors of church history and search for the threads of all Roman Catholic dogma. One falls flat of linking many of them back to the early church, or in some instances, even the Bible.


Iohannes said...

Have you seen James Buchanan's old work on Justification? Here is a link to what he says about the doctrine in the fathers:
What stood out to me was Buchanan's discussion of the usage of the word "merit" in the Latin fathers. This starts on the bottom on page 87. It is interesting to read in the light of McGrath's conclusions.

Archbishop Ussher wrote on the same topic in his Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge:
I don't know how well their position holds up when compared to modern scholarship, but it is worth at least considering.

Apolonio said...


nice to meet you again. hope youre doing well with your studies.

Buchanan's work, and I won't pretend that I read all of it, seems to be a good standard Protestant position on the Fathers. I think he is clearly wrong on Augustine though (off the top of my head, Letters 186 I think..i might be off). His view on merit is inaccurate since I can think of some early Christians who clearly contradicts his thesis. In fact, here is Ambrosiaster,

"God by his mercy has saved us through Christ. By his grace, we, born again, have received abundantly of his Holy Spirit, so that relying on good works, with him helping us in all things, we might be able thus to lay hold of the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven." (Commentary on Titus 3:7)

And some of his language is a bit ambiguous since there are some things he said that a Catholic can accept, but it seems it's because was more of a nonrefined language.

Interesting book so far though. I'll have to read more of it.

dtking said...

Interesting that you should mention Ambrosiaster. He was one of the first to articulate sola fide in connection with justification...

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), wrote while commenting on 1 Cor. 1:4b: God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works. By faith alone he receives the forgiveness of sins. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VII: 1-2 Corinthians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 6.
Latin Text: Datam dicit gratiam a Deo in Christo Jesu, quae gratia sic data est in Christo Jesu; quia hoc constitutum est a Deo, ut qui credit in Christum, salvus sit sine opere: sola fide gratis accipit remissionem peccatorum. In Epistolam B. Pauli Ad Corinthios, Primam, PL 17:185.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 1:11: For the mercy of God had been given for this reason, that they should cease from the works of the law, as I have often said, because God, taking pity on our weaknesses, decreed that the human race would be saved by faith alone, along with the natural law. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 23.
Latin Text: Nam misericordia Dei ad hoc data est, ut Lex cessaret, quod saepe jam dixi; quia Deus consulens infirmitati humanae, sola fide addita legi naturali, hominum genus salvare decrevit. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:53.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 2:12: For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 65.
Latin Text: Si enim justo non est lex posita, sed injustis; qui non peccat, amicus legis est. Huic sola fides deest, per quam fiat perfectus quia nihil illi proderit apud Deum abstinere a contrariis, nisi fidem in Deum acceperit, ut sit justus per utraque; quia illa temporis justitia est, haec aeternitatis. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:67.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:24: They are justified freely because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 101.
Latin Text: Justificati gratis per gratiam ipsius. Justificati sunt gratis, quia nihil operantes, neque vicem reddentes, sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:79.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:27: Paul tells those who live under the law that they have no reason to boast basing themselves on the law and claiming to be of the race of Abraham, seeing that no one is justified before God except by faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 103.
Latin, fuller text: Ubi est ergo gloriatio tua? Exclusa est. Per quam legem? factorum? Non, sed per legem fidei. Reddita ratione, ad eos loquitur, qui agunt sub lege, quod sine causa glorientur, blandientes sibi de lege, et propter quod genus sint Abrahae, videntes non justificari hominem apud Deum, nisi per fidem. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:80.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:5: How then can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of the law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law when the ungodly is justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 112.
Latin Text: Hoc dicit, quia sine operibus legis credenti impio, id est gentili, in Christum, reputatur fides ejus ad justitiam, sicut et Abrahae. Quomodo ergo Judaei per opera legis justificari se putant justificatione Abrahae; cum videant Abraham non per opera legis, sed sola fide justificatum? Non ergo opus est lex, quando impius per solam fidem justificatur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:82-83.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:6, ‘righteousness apart from works’: Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 113.
Latin Text: Hoc ipsum munit exemplo prophetae. Beatitudinem hominis, cui Deus accepto fert justitiam sine operibus. Beatos dicit de quibus hoc sanxit Deus, ut sine labore et aliqua observatione, sola fide justificentur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:83.

James is absolutely correct about the double standards employed by apologists of the Roman communion when it comes to patristic literature. If you want to talk about "nonrefined language," all the church fathers were silent on the bodily assumption of Mary, with the possible exception of Epiphanius, who said that no one knows her end. But Roman apologists don't sweat the employment of double standards. In fact, it is all too commonplace for them.


Apolonio said...

the reason why I gave that quote from Ambrosiaster is because I know that he has been used to somehow support the Protestant doctrine. However, Mr. King lacks the ability to interact with the quote I have given. McGrath gives the background of how Ambrosiaster saw the law as,

"The earliest known Latin commentary upon the Pauline epistles is that of Ambrosiaster. Most modern commentators on this important work recognise that its exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith is grounded in the contrast between Christianity and Judaism: there is no trace of a more universal interpretation of justification by faith meaning freedom from a law of works--**merely freedom from the Jewish ceremonial law.** The Pauline doctrine of freedom from the works of the law is given a specific historical context by Ambrosiaster, in the Jewish background to Christianity. In other respects, Ambrosiaster is more akin to Pelagius than to Augustine. The Pelagian controversy had yet to break, and much of Ambrosiaster's teaching seems strange in the light of that controversy. Like many of his contemporaries, for example, he appears to be obsessed with the idea that man can acquire merit before God, and the associated idea that certain labours are necessary to attain this." (23)

In fact, it is interesting that one of the quotes given by Mr. King says, "decreed that the human race would be saved by faith alone, ***along with the natural law.**"

Now, in those quotes, what does he mean by "faith"? Ambrosiaster believes that love is a **necessary condition** for faith. He says,

"For justification, faith alone in love is necessary. For faith must be fortified with brotherly love for the perfection of the believer." (Commentary on Galatians 5:6). (it's also interesting how he connects justification with the **perfection** of the believer which seems to be an intrinsic quality of the person)

And by "faith," Ambrosiaster, as also said by McGrath, seems to equate that with Christian faith, that is, faith in Christ **as opposed** to other faiths. Apart from the Christian faith, there is no salvation. As quoted by king,

“For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal.”

Notice that a person who lives by faith alone "does not sin." For others, that is, those who do not have faith, avoidance of evil is not enough (an avoidance of evil is not necessarily a good act as any good ethicist will tell you) ****unless they also believe in God***. So that they might be righteous ***on both*** counts. So avoidance of evil makes a person righteous iff they also believe in God. Some kind of works, like avoiding sin, is an essential property of faith. Love is an essential property of faith as I have shown Ambrosiaster to believe. Being a Jew and following the works of the law isn't enough. In fact, Ambrosiaster seems to reflect the NPP scholars.

Robert Eno, whom Protestants love to quote, says,

"Despite our initial justification by God's mercy, our subsequent life, our works, will determine whether we are justified or damned ultimately. As can be seen, Ambrosiaster has no difficulty with merit language for the justified person. Having been washed, we must merit receiving the promise." (Eno, in Justification By Faith, page 117)

Having said that, I think we can properly understand what Ambrosiaster means in the quotes king presented.

L P Cruz said...

They do a lot of cherry picking indeed. Hence, I wonder why Prof Koon a Lutheran turned RC did not see it himself in the way the RC pick and choose the Fathers.

Does the RC claim inspired cherry picking then?

It was not without reason that the Reformers sided with the Father that sided with Scripture.

If one set of Fathers taught works and others like Ambrosiaster preached sola fide, the best one can do is say - well they contradicted each other, and so did the Reformers say that of Fathers and Councils. I would say the same thing too. Hence, back to the sources, Scripture alone.

Sola Fide was indeed a tradition in catholicity (small c).

I believe Pelikan was correct, at Trent, Romanism anathemised one section of Christendom, Ambrosiaster would be anathemized too.

Thanks DTK for the quotes


Gojira said...

Apolonio, approvingly(?) quoting McGrath:

"In other respects, Ambrosiaster is more akin to Pelagius than to Augustine."

Well, that settles it, if Roman Catholics took Ambrosiaster seriously, they would condemn him for teaching heresy. I also seem to recall you having good regards to VanLandingham. And why not? He too argues from a type of Pelagianistic perspective.

dtking said...

Mr. King doesn't lack the ability to deal with your quote. I dealt with the quote by demonstrating the inconsistency of a church father like Ambrosiaster.

What you have yet to deal with is the subject of this thread, namely, the double standards of Roman apologists like yourself. So, perhaps, you need to work on your ability to deal your own double standards of proof.

Ambroasiaster does not say a necessary condition for faith is love - that's your self-imposed construction of his words. Ambrosiaster is describing the kind of faith by which men are justified.

But when are you going to deal with the double standard which is the subject of the thread? You see, there is no dogma of the assumption in the early Church. There is no dogma of purgatory in the early church, or indulgences. But sola fide is explicitly found in the early church fathers, whereas there is nothing of those dogmas peculiar to Rome. You see, no matter what construction you desire to place on the words of Ambroasiaster, the language of sola fide in connection with justification is explicitly present in his literature, and you can't get around it.

So, please show us that you are willing to deal with your double standards, and attempt to do so. I suspect that your zeal for Rome outstrips your ability to deal meaningfully with with the subject of this thread.

And if you want to continue to use the testimony of Ambroasiaster, do you credit his testimony which explicitly denies that the original church of Rome was founded by any apostle?

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384) stated that the Romans “have embraced the faith of Christ, albeit according to the Jewish rite, without seeing any sign of mighty works, or any of the apostles.” In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Prologus, PL 17:46.

Since you give credit to Ambroasiaster's testimony, I'm sure you agree with him that the primitive church in Rome was not founded by an apostle. :)

But, I understand, King just can't deal with anything "Roman," given his ignorance of patristic literature. :) It's always fun to listen to the musings of Romanists.


Apolonio said...

mr. king,

i already dealt with the double standard argument on this blog and i don't have to repeat myself all the time...go look it up..

as far as sola fide is concerned, i have dealt with the context of your quotes and you lack the ability to interact with them.

as far as "justification by faith alone in love," he does say that faith alone in love is a necessary condition for justification. it seems then there must be that conjunction, faith and love, in order to be justified. that's what the quote says. now, as for the interpretation that love is a necessary condition for faith, that seems plausible given that quote.

now, mr. king, it's too easy to claim that someone is inconsistent with his writings. a lot say that about paul. but real scholars actually try to understand how each of their ideas are connected.


We have to talk about VanLandingham! i lean towards the view that he defeated covenantal nomism but it seems that paul was unique in the sense that he didn't hold on to CN.

Anyway, I'm going to New Hampshire for vacation. I'll be back on Sunday. I would like to talk about VanLandingham if you're interested.

Iohannes said...


It's good to hear from you. Have you completed your degree up at Rutgers? If so, congratulations. I've still at least a year to go on mine.

McGrath is dismissive of Buchanan's take on Augustine. See §19, p. 185 of the 2nd ed., also n. 22 on p. 450. He seems put off by the polemical tone of the work. I am not sure what to make of the argument about the word 'merit', but I do think the general principle is a good one--it is necessary to pay close attention to the subtleties of usage when interpreting Scripture and the fathers. Too often writers on all sides will read their own ideas back into the ancients' words.

I'm not familiar with Letter 186. No. 194 is often quoted:

What merit, then, has man before grace which could make it possible for him to receive grace, when nothing but grace produces good merit in us; and what else but His gifts does God crown when He crowns our merits? For, just as in the beginning we obtained the mercy of faith, not because we were faithful but that we might become so, in like manner He will crown us at the end with eternal life, as it says, ‘with mercy and compassion.’ Not in vain, therefore, do we sing to God: ‘His mercy shall prevent me,’ and ‘His mercy shall follow me.’ Consequently, eternal life itself, which will certainly be possessed at the end without end, is in a sense awarded to antecedent merits, yet, because the same merits for which it is awarded are not effected by us through our sufficiency, but are effected in us by grace, even this very grace is so called for no other reason than that it is given freely; not, indeed, that it is not given for merit, but because the merits themselves are given for which it is given. And when we find eternal life itself called grace, we have in the same Apostle Paul a magnificent defender of grace: ‘The wages of sin,’ he says, ‘is death. But the grace of God life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

The same idea appears elsewhere in Augustine. E.g. On the Trinity, 13.14 and the Enchiridion, c. 107.

As for Ambrosiaster, the old Catholic Encyclopedia gives him a strong endorsement:

All in all the commentary is an excellent work. Some modern scholars believe it the best that was written before the sixteenth century. Its teaching is entirely orthodox, with, perhaps, the sole exception of the author's belief in the millennium.

While I have heard of his use of the phrase "sola fide" before, the CE's appraisal of him has made me doubt whether he can really be adduced as a witness to the Protestant view. But then again, I have not really studied his writings on my own.

Regarding the overall issue of the status of justification in the fathers', I still tend to think Chemnitz' evaluation is the best. If I have time and can do so without violating copyright, I might type up his comments from the Loci Theologici.

Also, in looking for continuity between the Protestant doctrine on justification and earlier teachings, I think it is good to look at grace and predestination, but it is also good to look at the broad concept of union with Christ. The real dispute is over how, by reason of this union, Christ's righteousness or merit is appropriated by the believer so that he can be judged to have satisfied to demands of the law. There are two very different positions that can be taken.

The Tridentine position is spelled out in Ch. 16 of the positive decree:

For since Christ Jesus Himself, as the head into the members and the vine into the branches, continually infuses strength into those justified, which strength always precedes, accompanies and follows their good works, and without which they could not in any manner be pleasing and meritorious before God, we must believe that nothing further is wanting to those justified to prevent them from being considered to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life, to be obtained in its due time, provided they depart this life in grace, since Christ our Savior says: "If anyone shall drink of the water that I will give him, he shall not thirst forever; but it shall become in him a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting." Thus, neither is our own justice established as our own from ourselves, nor is the justice of God ignored or repudiated, for that justice which is called ours, because we are justified by its inherence in us, that same is the justice of God, because it is infused into us by God through the merit of Christ.

Turretin (loc. 16, q. 4, v) presents the classic Reformed view:

Christ having been destined and given of God to us as a surety and head, in virtue of this union it happens that whatever was done by him (or endured by him for the perfect fulfillment of the law as to its precepts as well as to its penal sanction) is reckoned ours, as done in our place, and is imputed to us by God as if it had been performed by ourselves. From this imputation of his most perfect righteousness flow two benefits--both remission of sins and the bestowal of a right to life or adoption (in which the whole of justification is contained).

The Reformed do not altogether deny inherent righteousness; what is denied is that this has anything to do with the ground of our justification.

Owen in Ch. 6 of his work on justification writes of "evangelical personal righteousness":

This inherent righteousness, taking it for that which is habitual and actual, is the same with our sanctification; neither is there any difference between them, only they are diverse names of the same thing. For our sanctification is the inherent renovation of our natures exerting and acting itself in newness of life, or obedience unto God in Christ and works of righteousness.

But as Calvin says in his Antidote to Trent:

It is not to be denied, however, that the two things, Justification and Sanctification, are constantly conjoined and cohere; but from this it is erroneously inferred that they are one and the same. For example: — The light of the sun, though never unaccompanied with heat, is not to be considered heat. Where is the man so undiscerning as not to distinguish the one from the other? We acknowledge, then, that as soon as any one is justified, renewal also necessarily follows: and there is no dispute as to whether or not Christ sanctifies all whom he justifies. It were to rend the gospel, and divide Christ himself, to attempt to separate the righteousness which we obtain by faith from repentance.

Thus in a sense no one denies that "there must be that conjunction, faith and love, in order to be justified." But on the Reformed view, it is not the love shed abroad in our hearts and waxing stronger throughout the lives of the faithful that is the ground of our justification--it is the prior imputation of the full righteousness of Christ.

But since I'm saying things that everyone here already knows, I'll stop.

Enjoy your trip up to New Hampshire.


dtking said...

Well, there you have the invocation of yet another double standard, "a real scholar would know." You're not a real scholar, and hence the double standard invoked again only makes the point all the more.

The fact is that scholars disagree with one another, but that doesn't make them any less a scholar than the other. It simply means that when they disagree either one or both are wrong. I don't think a kid who's never seen the light of a seminary classroom has any right to sit in judgment of those who have actually done the research. I have a theological education, and I've done the research, but I don't have to prove it to you.

No, sir, you don't have to deal with your double standard, I understand. In the Roman apologetics arena, that's standard procedure.

Cheers Mr. teenager,

Gojira said...

Hi Apolonio,

Sure. I think that would be great. I was going through various sections of it today. Whatever else one may or may not say about his work, one has to hand it to VanLandingham, as he certainly does present a well argued position. I actually got the book based on Alvin Kimel's blog review of it. I have heard that Gathercole's "Where Is Boasting: Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul's Response in Romans 1-5"
is also one to be looked into. The irony of this work, as it is an argument against Dunn, is that Dunn served as his Ph.D advisor.

L P Cruz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L P Cruz said...

Also Apolonio, I meant to say...

I read again the quote of Ambrosiaster that you gave. Looks like you are latching on that relying on good works. But before that phrase we read "God by his mercy has saved us through Christ". That one you are not explaining but latching on to something you think proves your point. You should give the full context of the quote for others to see for themselves.

I say this because your comment on Ambrosiaste's comment on Gal 5:6 should be interpreted with that Scripture text in mind. You are interpreting Ambrosiaster with out it. Following your quote of his and in the light of Scripture it can be read this way (with my insertion...

"For justification, faith alone [that works] in love is necessary. For faith must be fortified with brotherly love for the perfection of the believer." (Commentary on Galatians 5:6).

My insertion gives the benefit of the doubt on what Ambrosiaster was saying since what is in view is his interpretation/exposition of Gal 5:6. As you can see if Ambrosiaster's comment is read that way, you can see that he is not suggesting that love is a precondition for faith as you seem to imply. Confessing Protestanst have always taught that works follows justifying faith, but it is never the ground for it.

Thus I concur with Pr. King in dismissing your eisegesis of Ambrosiaster on this one. It showed your bias and as a 'scholar' is un-becoming. He is right you read into it your preconceived notions.

Based on your quote on Ambrosiaster contradicting sola fide, you may, as you pointed, conclude that Ambrosiaster is like the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) here, that is, the teaching that saved by grace but kept by works. But the NPP notion will not work for you either, for it cuts accross Roman and Protestant sides.

I observe that in most cases the Fathers are like Paul (some) ie after telling us that we are justified by grace, they echo Paul and speak of works. I notice that those who quote the Fathers from the RC side, look at the second half and skip the first half, like you are doing here. Also they latch on to a word or so, hence as pointed out commit exegetical fallacies.

You did try to prove that Ambrosiaster did not teach "sola fide" because he said the one you quoted. That is implausible based on the propensity of Pr Kings quote to you. Hence, those quotes should be used in the light of the other quotes that seems to contradict himself. And it is possible that he did confuse himself too, but human beings are not a walking mathematical system.

At least, as a "scholar" this is what you can do - stop siding with the notion that Luther invented JBFA. Recognize that there were the Fathers spoke like Luther did. Then also recognize that if you are going to quote Ambrosisater contra sola fide, the quote him too contra supremacy of Roman Pope as Pr. King said to you.

The fact that Luther spoke like them means that he did not invent notion of JBFA. As to whether or not Ambrosiaster believed like Luther (which I believe he did), that is something yet for you to stablish by exegeting Ambrosiaster, even handedly.

I think that project is a mountain to climb. If you can quote Ambrosisater denying sola fide in connection to justification, your case will be superior, but even the quote you gave did not speak directly of justification, he spoke of inheriting the kingdom of God. Protestants do not deny that there is an aspect of now/not yet part of salvation.

Lastly, I agree too with Ioannes, the Reformed (and Lutheran) do not teach that works are not "necessary", and from the Lutheran side, works are "necessary", meaning works necessarily follow, but they are not the ground of justification. Also as a Lutheran, I will plug Chemnitz's work on the Fathers too, rather than McGrath's.

Clearly the quote you gave of Ambrosiaster seems to suggest that he believed in a once and for all justification - for he prefaced "God by his mercy has saved us through Christ" (past tense). Like the other Father, when they speak of justification, they speak next of sanctification. Now I have not read your works but do check - we (Lutheran and Reformed) make a distinction but not a separation between justification and sanctification. This is different from Roman Catholic categories.

Cameron said...

I know this is a late response, but I figured it's better now than never.


When Catholics quote McGrath as saying that Ambrosiaster "seems to be obsessed with the concept of merit", what they overlook is that the term "merit" according to McGrath isn't in the modern Roman sense.

"The early Latin fathers, prior to the Pelagian controversy, do not
appear to have considered merit to involve any real claim on the part of humans to divine reward on the basis of their efforts."

"Despite the semantic associations of the Latin term meritum, the early use of the term appears to have been quite innocent of the overtones of works-righteousness’which
would later be associated with it."

Iustitia Dei, pg.138-139

McGrath's point is completely opposite of how Catholics are quoting him, simply because they fail to quote all of him. In addition, his position harmonizes with Ambrosiaster's teaching since in his commentary on Romans he uses justification in the past tense, and then speaks of "merit" as being rewards after the fact.

On Rom 4:25 "And so he might top off our justification, after his resurrection he gave authority by his commandments, that by imitating them we might increase our merits."

On Rom 5:8 "what will he do for those who have been justified..."

McGrath's 'Iustitia Dei' doesn't look at patristic fathers who alluded to solafide. Rather, he shows that the "nature" of justification was a theological novum, not the "mode" of justification. I believe what McGrath means by "nature is the sinner's passive-ness in being justified, because he continues to show along these lines how Luther eventually developed this understanding in his theology.

But this is only a clarification of the doctrine of justification, and this clarification was new during the Reformation. A clarification isn't the gospel, but only a clarification of the gospel. Aka, the real gospel has always been known Biblically by many of God's people, just not certain clarifications of it.

Historically speaking, we could probably conclude that all the fathers (i.e. Clement of Rome, Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster, etc) who mentioned solafide had more of an Arminian (very small synergism in willing youself to believe) view of it. I personally believe justification being more monergistic during the Reformation probably ties into why there became a distinguishment between justification and being regenerate for the first time (as McGrath also says).

Now, here's the major reason I would argue that Ambrosiaster held to solafide (=justification apart from any works righteousness). It's the same reason I would exegete it from Rom 3 Biblically. On Rom 3:20 he includes the natural law (moral law) to be part of the law which condemns the world. On Rom 3:21, when commenting on the law that we're justified apart from, he not only includes the sabbath, the circumcision, the new moon, but also revenge, and revenge is part of the moral law (6th and 10th commandments). Further, his commentary on Rom 7:7 includes the moral law, and this is also part of the law which condemns (c.f. 7:6).

Also, it does no good for Catholics to just quote his commentary on 1:11 since he also says the exact opposite about 3:24, "they are justified freely, because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God."

Just reciting trump quotes doesn't do anyone any good when seemingly contradictory statements are also made by the same person.

Lastly, what should shock modern Catholics is not the fact that solafide wasn't fully articulated until the Reformation, but that solafide has more of a patristic track record then Rome's current gospel, namely, being required to believe that Mary was sinless.

James Swan said...

I know this is a late response, but I figured it's better now than never.


I think Mr. Latar is now in Rome studying, someone here on the blog mentioned for the priesthood, but I've not checked that out.

Cameron said...

If I were in Rome I'd be sharing the gospel of Romans that was originally sent to Rome! Also, I personally could never become a priest because I love God's invention of marriage and sex.