Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Journey into the History of Justification

This semester I have been blessed with the opportunity to deeply examine the doctrine of justification throughout the centuries of the Church. This will prove to be a heavy task I am sure, and I assume that I will not even begin to scratch the surface by the end of my 14 weeks. Lord willing, I will be blogging about it each week. You can find the links to each post at the bottom.

The plan is to first start with an overview of the traditional Evangelical understanding of justification, then read some Apostolic Fathers, Origen and his legacy on the Eastern and Oriental churches, spend four weeks on Augustine and his contemporaries, hit Aquinas and his era, along with his legacy on the Catholicism of Luther’s day, and finally end with Luther and the Reformers. I am planning on reading a little bit of secondary sources, then hitting mainly the primary sources.

There are many reasons as to why I am doing this.
The main one is that I see such a disconnect between the standard for believers in Scripture and the standard upheld by most in the American church today. Though I understand there are many reasons for the decay of the church, I wonder if it has something to do with our theology. Could the Reformation emphasis of “apart from works” be contributing to the moral laxity that we see today? Are we relying on being “saved by grace alone” more than the Biblical writers intended? Perhaps.

Before I ever put forth a solution, I think surveying what the rest of the Church has historically understood on this matter would be beneficial. Do they have any better systems to line up with Scripture more faithfully? Maybe they have held to the Protestant doctrine more than I know. Perhaps I will come away with a better appreciation of the doctrine of sola fide.

I do want to let you in on the fact that I don’t exactly know what I am looking for, or even the right questions to ask. I think it does start with a better understanding of the relationship between faith and action, and justification and sanctification, which is quite vague. However, if all I do is better refine my question, then I will consider the endeavor a success. It is the great unknown, but God will guide me as I continue the quest for understanding.

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