Catholic Priest Speaks of Justification by Faith

Hat tip to Dr. White for his link to the article. First read the article. It’s very interesting. Then, visit Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa’s sermon in question which you can find from his homepage. This sermon is actually part 3 of 3 meditations.

I don’t have much time so I am going to pick out a few quotes.

Nevertheless, from this moment in which the Protestants insisted unilaterally on faith, Catholic preaching and spirituality ended up accepting the nearly exclusive and thankless work of calling to mind the need for good works and of one’s personal contribution to salvation. The result is that the great majority of Catholics have lived entire lives without having ever heard a direct announcement of gratuitous justification by faith, without too many “buts.”

This is what I often see with Roman Catholics I know. There is much emphasis on “doing good”.

“All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God — to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).

Nothing of this text can be understood, even to the point that it could inspire fear more than consolation (as occurred for centuries), if the term “righteousness of God” is interpreted incorrectly. It was Luther who rediscovered that “righteousness of God” does not indicate here chastisement, or worse, his revenge, toward man, but rather it indicates, on the contrary, the act through which God “makes” man “just.” (He really said “declares,” not “makes,” just, because he was thinking of an extrinsic or legal justification, in an imputation of justice, more than a real being made just.)

I find the above particularly interesting. Imputation rears it’s beautiful head? If Christ is our righteousness then it cannot be our own.

Here is the novelty that distinguishes the Christian religion from any other. Any other religion draws out for man a path to salvation by means of practical observations and intellectual speculations, promising him, as a final prize, salvation and illumination, but leaving him substantially alone in achieving the task. Christianity does not begin with what man must do to save himself, but rather with what God has done to save him. The order is reversed.

Sounds familiar to when protestants say that when we stand before the Father and are asked “What did you do with Jesus?” rather than “What did Jesus do for you?”

When Jesus said: “Convert, and believe in the Gospel,” he was already teaching justification by faith.

I can already hear the objections, “He didn’t say by faith alone he said by faith.” Isn’t it a given since nothing else is included? You know the arguements.

Anyways, check out the meditations. It’ll be interesting to see if this causes any further discussions and what not.

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The above article was posted on January 21, 2006 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jeff Fuller January 24, 2006 at 4:27 pm

Quote from sermon: “This is the most necessary conversion for those that have followed Christ and have lived serving him in the Church. A conversion altogether special, which does not consist in abandoning evil, but rather, in a certain sense, in abandoning the good! That is, by detaching oneself from all that you have done, repeating to yourself, according to the suggestion of Christ: “We are useless servants; we have done only our duty” (Luke 17:10). And not even, perhaps, the good we should do!”

Sounds like a better phrase for the bolded text would be “false converts” or “false brethren”. The entire sermon seems to give the impression that people are basically “good” people and lacks any emphasis on any amount of depravity. But, it’s a sermon from a Catholic priest… what else am I to expect?

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