Grace comes first, an awakening and assisting grace that begins the process of justification, but people must consent to and cooperate with that grace. Justification, in turn, "is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts whereby an unjust man becomes just and from being an enemy becomes a friend." Luther had focused on an instant of justification, in which God saved sinners by pure grace but left them sinners - they were justified only because Christ's righteousness was imputed to them. Trent pictured justification as a process in which divine grace and human efforts cooperate at every step and not only lead God to count us as justified but also begin to transform us so that we more nearly deserve that status.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
On Catholic (Council of Trent) understanding of justification from A History of Christian Theology: An Introduction