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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Catholics and Lutherans Statement on Justification

Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

Have you ever read the 1998 statement on the doctrine of justification produced jointly by Lutherans and Catholics?  It attempts to declare where the two churches hold common beliefs in the matter of justification and related beliefs regarding sin, good works, assurance of salvation, grace and faith.

It is a well crafted statement and not so scholarly that lay people would not find it useful.  In fact, I think many Catholic and Protestant friends could find it a useful discussion starter.  So many people are still of the belief that their good works here on this earth earn them entrance into heaven.  Formally, that belief is anathema to the Christian faith whether it be Roman Catholic, Lutheran or otherwise.

Justification is God's act of declaring a sinner righteous before Himself.  It is a gracious gift through faith in Jesus Christ and not earned through good works.

Though you may believe or your church may teach that heaven and eternal life will be yours because you have been a good person, that is not now, nor has it ever been, the formal teaching of the church universal nor of the teaching of the Bible.  Jesus never taught that.  St. Paul or the other authors of the New Testament never taught that.  And it has never been the formal belief of the church.

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