|shoeleg:: TH 301 Week 9||[Changes] [Calendar] [Search] [Index]|
Justification and Sanctification are two parts of the same process, but their connection and their ordering is a matter of some disagreement within the traditions of Christian theology.
We might say that Justification is the connection of Christian faith to individual salvation. It is the doctrine that wrestles with the question:
How are we, in our sin, able to stand in the presence of a righteous God?
Following the Guthrie text, some important factors to keep in mind:
Two models of Justification
For purposes of simplicity, we can analyze the basic structure of justification by dividing it into two possibilities: 1) In Justification
something changes in us,
or, 2) in Justification
nothing changes in us.
Let's look at both and see how this plays out.
This type of justification is often associated with the Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic (Episcopal) traditions, although you can find traces of it in many of the protestant denominations (Methodism, for example). Justification, in this model, does not happen "all-at-once," as a prelude to sanctification, but is much more the result of an ongoing, sanctified life. that is, as you grow in sanctification (see below), you will become justified in the eyes of God (this is a very over-simplified explanation, of course).
When we think about this theologically, we can begin to see connections with such a model of justification and certain worship practices. For example, remembering that Anglo-Catholic traditions place a high value on the "real presence" of Christ at the Lord's Supper, it would make sense that a worshipper would have to have some change in the status of their sin in order to take the bread and the fruit of the vine. In other words, if one thinks God is literally there in the elements, and it is impossible to stand before God in our sin, then it follows that our sin has to change somehow for us to take the elements of the Lord's Supper and not perish.
Seen in this model, justification is an ongoing process that takes time and a co-operation with the grace given by God (that is, God "invests" a bit of grace in you, and if you make good use of it by being virtuous, God rewards you with more, and so on). The model tends to see the purpose of human life to be to grow out of the sin nature and towards the imitation of Christ. Therefore, there is a "hierarchy" of virtue - some folks are father along in attaining Christ-like virtue than others. Such a model forms a background for many ecclesial practices such as priests (who are seen in the Anglo-Catholic tradition as more holy than the congregants), saints, the "cult of the Virgin Mary" (which we discussed in class) and so on.
Hence, in this model, we always remain in our sin nature - that does not change. What does change is the relationship we are able to have with God, despite our sin, and this is thanks to the
of Jesus Christ. In other words, we always remain damnable due to our sin, but Christ steps between us and God's wrath in some fashion (refer back to the various models of
we discussed last week) and builds a bridge for us to return to right relationship with God the Father.
Sanctification, in this model, is the joyous response we have to the totally unmerited gift of Christ's imputed righteousness. That is, we are freed to recieve God's love despite our sin, and our feeling that love empowers us to in turn love both God and our neighbor.
Again, if we consider theologically the consequences of such a doctrine, we can see connections with this style of thinking to various "low church" or "free church" liturgical practices. For example, if we always remain in our sin, it makes less sense to talk about priests as more holy or "set apart" and more sense to emphasize a "priesthood of all believers." Such an approach might also account for the downplaying of the importance of the Lord's Supper (Eucharist) in many of these protestant traditions. Justification is the instant of conversion, not a process that needs repitition or infusion, according to this model.
The relation of Faith and Justification
Faith is vital to the equation of Justification, but not in the manner we are often given to think makes 'common sense' as American Christians (who love the idea of a 'do it yourself' Christianity). Regardless of which model of Justification is adopted in a given theology, it is fundamental to always remember that the initiation of it does not come from our side, but always begins with God. As Guthrie puts it (322), "Faith is not a 'work' that saves us; it is our acknowledgement that we are saved." Our faith does not save us - God does.
Seen in this light, faith itself is a grace - a gift given to us. Our faith as Christians begins with the reality of the resurrection. Faith is never our possession, like an object we could hold or lose. Faith is the ever-renewed gift of a graceful God.
As we move the discussion towards the issue of Sanctification, we must look again at the issue of works. Emphatically, against Pelagianism, "orthodox" Christianity has always maintained that our works do not merit our Justification before God. However, it has maintianed with equal vigor that, once given, the greace of God through Christ does bring evidence of a change within us. I like how Guthrie puts it, when he says, "We are not made right with God
good works, but we are not made right with God
good works" (326). This leads us to the matter of Sanctification.
|(last modified 2005-11-09) [Login]|