The RCC issued a "RESPONSE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO THE JOINT DECLARATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION The response can be read here:
Items in italics are from the joint declaration.
From point 1:
[i]According, indeed, to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in baptism everything that is really sin is taken away, and so, in those who are born anew there is nothing that is hateful to God [/i]
Of which baptism do they speak? that of water, or that of the Spirit, which is what is spoken of in Act_1:5 "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."
Baptism with water is but a figure, baptism by the Holy Spirit is the substance. Having grown up in the RCC, and knowing their emphasis on water (particularly infant) baptism, I suspect the reference is to the former. Former or latter, however, their conclusion is false, for baptism does not totally cleanse from sin.
[i]It follows that the concupiscence that remains in the baptised is not, properly speaking, sin. [/i]
If it concupiscence is not sin, pray tell exactly what is it then? In Romans 7:24 Paul cries out "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
To get the context of his lament, we should back up a few verses, paying particular attention to verse 20:
Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but [b][i][u]sin[/u][/i][/b] that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Paul knew full well that sin still dwelt within him, and it agonized him.
[i]For Catholics, therefore, the formula "at the same time righteous and sinner", as it is explained at the beginning of n. 29 ("Believers are totally righteous, in that God forgives their sins through Word and Sacrament ...Looking at themselves ... however, they recognize that they remain also totally sinners. Sin still lives in them..."), is not acceptable. [/i]
There is a critical difference between a Christian's (and here I use the term in the Biblical rather than cultural sense of the term) standing and his state. When he repents of his sin in heartfelt contrition, and receives Christ as Savior and Lord by grace through faith, his sins (past, present, and [u]future[/u]) are washed away by the blood of Christ, never to be held against him again. He is justified and declared righteous in the sight of God. This is his [i]standing.[/i]
His [i]state[/i], however, is one of failure and sin. In his mortal body he can never, despite his best efforts, measure up to the perfect standard of God's righteousness. Thus Paul's lament in Romans 7:24. Isaiah put it like this: Isa_64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Even the good that we do is tainted by sin. We are, and remain, sinners.
[i]2. Another difficulty arises in n.18 of the Joint Declaration, where a clear difference appears in the importance, for Catholics and for Lutherans, of the doctrine of justification as criterion for the life and practice of the Church.
Whereas for Lutherans this doctrine has taken on an altogether particular significance, [b]for the Catholic Church the message of justification, according to Scripture and already from the time of the Fathers, has to be organically integrated into the fundamental criterion of the "regula fidei", that is, the confession of the one God in three persons, christologically centred [u]and rooted in the living Church and its sacramental life. [/u][/b][/i]
(Regula fidei is latin for Rule of Faith.)
Lutheran's have historically held (and I hope they still do) to the doctrine of justification by faith [u]alone.[/u] For the RCC, the matter is different. They have, and continue to hold, as the statement above makes clear, that justification is a matter of faith, [b]plus[/b] obedience to the sacraments as dispensed by the RCC. There is no getting around this.
Paul addresses this point in Romans 11:16 "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Grace and works are totally incompatible as it relates to justification. It must be by one or the other. Any attempt to mix the two nullifies both. Please note the underlined clause in the paragraph above. Rome continues to maintain, even in this their response to the joint declaration, that it is only through the sacraments as dispensed by the RCC that justification can be accomplished. This has been their position for over 1600 years and it has not changed.
Point #3 seems to be a denial of irresistible grace, the Calvinist view that man is unable to resist the call and grace of God. I share the Catholic and Lutheran viewpoint on this and maintain that man CAN resist God's grace.
[i]3. As stated in n. 17 of the Joint Declaration, Lutherans and Catholics share the common conviction that the new life comes from divine mercy and not from any merit of ours. It must, however, be remembered - as stated in 2 Cor 5:17 - that this divine mercy brings about a new creation and so makes man capable of responding to God's gift , of cooperating with grace. In this regard, the Catholic Church notes with satisfaction that n. 21, in conformity with can. 4 of the Decree on Justification of the Council of Trent ( DS 1554) states that man can refuse grace; but it must also be affirmed that, with this freedom to refuse, there is also a new capacity to adhere to the divine will, a capacity rightly called "cooperatio". This new capacity given in the new creation, does not allow us to use in this context the expression "mere passive" ( n. 21). On the other hand, the fact that this capacity has the character of a gift is well expressed in cap. 5 (DS 1525) of the Tridentine Decree when it says: "ita ut tangente Deo cor hominis per Spiritus Sancti illuminationem, neque homo ipse nihil omnino agat, inspirationem illam recipiens, quippe qui illam et abicere potest, neque tamen sine gratia Dei movere se ad iustitiam coram illo libera sua voluntate possit".[/i]
I do not know Latin so I don't know what the final clause of this paragraph means.
[i]In reality, also on the Lutheran side, there is the affirmation, in n. 21, of a full personal involvement in faith ("believers are fully involved personally in their faith"). [/i]
I agree with the above statement.
As Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Notice he said work it [u]out[/u], not work [u]for[/u] it. The saved are to live a life of holiness and good works in fear and trembling. They are nowhere told to do good works to earn salvation.
[i]A clarification would, however, be necessary as to the compatibility of this involvement with the reception "mere passive" of justification, in order to determine more exactly the degree of consensus with the Catholic doctrine. As for the final sentence of n. 24: "God's gift of grace in justification remains independent of human cooperation", this must be understood in the sense that the gifts of God's grace do not depend on the works of man, but not in the sense that justification can take place without human cooperation. The sentence of n. 19 according to which man's freedom "is no freedom in relation to salvation" must, similarly, be related to the impossibility for man to reach justification by his own efforts. [/i]
Here the RCC is engaging in double talk. The first part of the sentence reads [i] As for the final sentence of n. 24: "God's gift of grace in justification remains independent of human cooperation", this must be understood in the sense that the gifts of God's grace do not depend on the works of man, [/i] and this is true. The gift of grace is not dependent on human merit or good works. The next clause of the sentence reads [i]"but not in the sense that justification can take place without human cooperation."[/i] Now the RCC maintains that justification [i]cannot[/i] take place without human merit and good works.
They are saying one thing in the first clause, and the opposite in the second clause. Which is it?
The very next sentence reads [i]"The sentence of n. 19 according to which man's freedom "is no freedom in relation to salvation" must, similarly, be related to [u]the impossibility for man to reach justification by his own efforts.[/u] [/i]"
Now they are back to affirming that justification on the basis of good works and merit is impossible, which is true. The RCC is doing quite a dance here.
They then go on to say [i]"The Catholic Church maintains, moreover, that the good works of the justified are always the fruit of grace. "[/i] This is true. The good works of the justified are [b]always[/b] the fruit of grace, or the result of the Holy Spirit working in us. Recall what Isaiah said "All [b][i][u]OUR[/u][/i][/b] righteousnesses are but filthy rags."
The next sentence of the paragraph states [i]But at the same time, and without in any way diminishing the totally divine initiative (5), they are also the fruit of man, justified and interiorly transformed.[/i] If by this statement it is meant that man is only the physical agent by which these good works are accomplished, I concur with that position. But if by that statement it is meant that man, in and of himself, is responsible for the righteousness of the deed being performed, I flatly deny that position.
[i]We can therefore say that eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merits (6). [/i]
I refer back to Paul's statement in Romans 11:16 "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." The RCC is trying to maintain here that eternal life is both a gift and a reward for good works. It must be one or the other, it cannot be both. You can give your child $20 simply for no reason, as a gift of grace, or you can give him $20 for satisfactorily performing a given task that you set before him. But you cannot give him the same $20 bill for both reasons at the same time. If eternal life is a gift of God's grace, then it is a gift of God's grace and not a reward for works. If it is a reward for works, then it is a reward for works, and not a gift of God's grace. This is the point Paul is emphasizing in the above Scripture passage. It must be one or the other. I maintain that it is a gift of God's grace. Will there be rewards for faithfulness? Absolutely. But justification, salvation, and eternal life are not among them. Those are gifts of God's grace and mercy, not of works.
[i]4. In pursuing this study further, it will be necessary to treat also the sacrament of penance, which is mentioned in n. 30 of the Joint Declaration. According to the Council of Trent, in fact (7), through this sacrament the sinner can be justified anew ( rursus iustificari ): this implies the possibility, by means of this sacrament, as distinct from that of baptism, to recover lost justice (8). These aspects are not all sufficiently noted in the above-mentioned n. 30. [/i]
To start: I maintain that Biblically, there [b][u]IS[/u][/b] no [b][u]sacrament of penance.[/u][/b] While Scripture does tell us to confess our faults to one another and to pray for one another (James 5:16), nowhere does Scripture tell us to confess our sins to another man so that he may obtain God's mercy for us on our behalf. We are told to pray directly to God for forgiveness, never to a middle man. Therefore, I maintain that what Rome teaches about being justified anew and recovering lost justice through the non-Biblical sacrament of penance is nothing more than bilge and bathwater!
I further maintain that this one 'sacrament' has been responsible for the damnation of more souls than any other error that the RCC promulgates. By this one error, they have cut off the sinner form the only source of grace and forgiveness, God himself, and have substituted a man-made heresy that can never obtain grace and forgiveness for anyone.
"Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me. Amen." Martin Luther
[i]5. These remarks are intended as a more precise explanation of the teaching of the Catholic Church with regard to the points on which complete agreement has not been reached; they are also meant to complete some of the paragraphs explaining Catholic doctrine, in order to bring out more clearly the degree of consensus that has been reached. The level of agreement is high, but it does not yet allow us to affirm that all the differences separating Catholics and Lutherans in the doctrine concerning justification are simply a question of emphasis or language. Some of these differences concern aspects of substance and are therefore not all mutually compatible, as affirmed on the contrary in n. 40.
If, moreover, it is true that in those truths on which a consensus has been reached the condemnations of the Council of Trent non longer apply, the divergencies on other points must, on the contrary, be overcome before we can affirm, as is done generically in n.41, that these points no longer incur the condemnations of the Council of Trent. That applies in the first place to the doctrine on "simul iustus et peccator" (cf. n. l, above ). [/i]
What is being said here is that although many differences have been resolved (mainly by doctrinal cave-ins on the part of the Lutherans) many more differences remain unresolved, some of which are very substantial and not simply a matter of semantics.
Please pay very close attention to what is being said in the second half of the above quote: [i][u]If, moreover, it is true that in those truths on which a consensus has been reached the condemnations of the Council of Trent non longer apply, the divergencies on other points must, on the contrary, be overcome before we can affirm, as is done generically in n.41, that these points no longer incur the condemnations of the Council of Trent. That applies in the first place to the doctrine on "simul iustus et peccator" (cf. n. l, above ). [/u][/i]
Basically, what the RCC is saying here is that "We won't anathematize you for the points we agree on, but you're still going to go to hell for the ones we don't agree on."
Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
The RCC, as much as they would like to be able to, cannot as an institution condemn [u]anyone[/u] to hell. They do not have that power, no matter how much they bluster. Only God can do that. And he has promised that "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:37
[i]That applies in the first place to the doctrine on "simul iustus et peccator" (cf. n. l, above ). [/i]
First and foremost among the doctrines covered by the RCC in this response for which Lutherans (and by extension all who hold this doctrine) are still anathematized by the Council of Trent is [i]simul iustus et peccator[/i]. According to what I have been able to uncover from Google, this means "simultaneously justified and sinner." If you believe that sin still lives in the heart of a justified believer, you are anathema to the RCC.
I [b][i][u]MUST[/u][/i][/b] believe it! Paul taught it: Romans 7:17 "Now then it is no more I that do it, but [b][i][u]sin[/u][/i][/b] that dwelleth in me."
Now for the [i]chutzpah[/i]! You know what chutzpah is, don't you?
That's when you murder your parents, then at trial throw yourself on the mercy of the court because you're an orphan.
[i]6. We need finally to note, from the point of view of their representative quality, the different character of the two signataries of this Joint Declaration. The Catholic Church recognises the great effort made by the Lutheran World Federation in order to arrive, through consultation of the Synods, at a "magnus consensus", and so to give a true ecclesial value to its signature; there remains, however, the question of the real authority of such a synodal consensus, today and also tomorrow, in the life and doctrine of the Lutheran community. [/i]
Let's look at each sentence individually.
[i] We need finally to note, from the point of view of their representative quality, the different character of the two signataries of this Joint Declaration.[/i]
In Rome's eye's the two signatories are not equals. They are each of different character.
[i]The Catholic Church recognises the great effort made by the Lutheran World Federation in order to arrive, through consultation of the Synods, at a "magnus consensus", and so to give a true ecclesial value to its signature;[/i]
Rome here is saying thank you to the Lutheran World Federation for holding gatherings to arrive at a "great consensus" and to give a stamp of church authority.
[i]there remains, however, the question of the real authority of such a synodal consensus, today and also tomorrow, in the life and doctrine of the Lutheran community. [/i]
In other words, we (RCC) don't think you actually have the authority to [b][i][u]give[/u][/i][/b] such a stamp of church authority.
What arrogance! Coming from a church that to this day still considers itself the only true ordained church of Jesus Christ. it is hardly surprising, though.
Perhaps this response is not what you were expecting. I cannot help that.
I leave you with that famous quote of Martin Luther: