Friday, December 30, 2005

Council of Trent: Canons on Justification (with a handy summary of Tridentine soteriology)

[originally uploaded in 1997. Summary added: 29 December 2003]

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man's free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that, since Adam's sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that all works done before Justification, in whatsoever way they be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; or that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that the fear of hell,-whereby, by grieving for our sins, we flee unto the mercy of God, or refrain from sinning,-is a sin, or makes sinners worse; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON X.-If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that it is necessary for every one, for the obtaining the remission of sins, that he believe for certain, and without any wavering arising from his own infirmity and
disposition, that his sins are forgiven him; let him be anathema.

CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.

CANON XV.-If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema.

CANON XVI.-If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.

CANON XVII.-If any one saith, that the grace of Justification is only attained to by those who are predestined unto life; but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.

CANON XVIII.-If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.

CANON XIX.-If any one saith, that nothing besides faith is commanded in the Gospel; that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free; or, that the ten commandments nowise appertain to Christians; let him be anathema.

CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXI.-If any one saith, that Christ Jesus was given of God to men, as a redeemer in whom to trust, and not also as a legislator whom to obey; let him be anathema.

CANON XXII.-If any one saith, that the justified, either is able to persevere, without the special help of God, in the justice received; or that, with that help, he is not able; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIII.-lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,-except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

CANON XXV.-If any one saith, that, in every good work, the just sins venially at least, or-which is more intolerable still-mortally, and consequently deserves eternal punishments; and that for this cause only he is not damned, that God does not impute those works unto damnation; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVI.-If any one saith, that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God, through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well doing and in keeping the divine commandments; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVII.-If any one saith, that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity; or, that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVIII.-If any one saith, that, grace being lost through sin, faith also is always lost with it; or, that the faith which remains, though it be not a lively faith, is not a true faith; or, that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Chris taught; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIX.-If any one saith, that he, who has fallen after baptism, is not able by the grace of God to rise again; or, that he is able indeed to recover the justice which he has lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church-instructed by Christ and his Apostles-has hitherto professed, observed, and taugh; let him be anathema.

CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

CANON XXXI.-If any one saith, that the justified sins when he performs good works with a view to an eternal recompense; let him be anathema.

CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

CANON XXXIII.-If any one saith,that,by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.

See also: The Decree (Chapters) on Justification

Doctrinal Summary
(of every Chapter and Canon on Justification)

1. Man cannot justify himself (which includes works): contra Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism: Decree on Justification: chapter 5; Canons 1, 2, 3 on Justification.

2. Justification is by Grace Alone: Decree on Justification: chapter 8; Canon 10.

3. Initial justification by Grace Alone may be increased through mortification, observing God's commandments, and works (see James 2:24): Decree on Justification: chapters 7,10, 11.

4. Justification by Faith Alone is false: Decree on Justification: chapter 11; Canons 9, 29.

5. Good works and merit proceed wholly from the grace of God through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf (not from ourselves). They are necessary but they do not earn salvation, which
is by grace alone: Decree on Justification: chapter 16; Canons 18, 19, 20, 24, 26, 32, 33.

6. Man must cooperate with God's grace in order to receive an increase in justification: Canons 4, 22.

7. Good works done in God's grace really are good, and not evil because of our fallen nature, and they deserve a reward (not salvation, but recompense): Canons 6, 7, 25, 31.

8. Extrinsic, imputed, merely external or declared justification is false: Canon 11.

9. "Faith in one's own faith" or "assurance of salvation" is false: Decree on Justification: Chapters 9, 12; Canons 12, 13, 14, 15.

10. Men can fall away from grace (but not faith) and justification, through mortal sin, and must persevere: Decree on Justification: Chapters 11, 13, 15; Canons 16, 17, 23, 27, 28.

11. Temporal punishment for sin in this world and the next (purgatory) is necessary for most people: Canon 30.

12. Men are fallen (original sin) and are by nature children of wrath, and cannot be saved by the law: Decree on Justification: Chapter 1.

13. Man has a free will: adversely affected and limited by the fall, but not extinguished: Decree on Justification: Chapter 1.

14. Jesus Christ is the propitiator, through His blood, for the sins of the whole human race (universal atonement): Decree on Justification: Chapter 2.

15. Being born again and regenerated is necessary for grace, justification, redemption, and reception of the benefits of Christ's death (justification through Christ): Decree on Justification:
Chapters 3, 4.

16. Adults can and must be disposed by God's grace to accept God's graces for justification, repent, do penance, and be baptized: Decree on Justification: Chapters 6, 7.

17. Justification and sanctification are joined together, caused by Jesus Christ's Passion on the Cross and God's grace, and accepted freely by man. Faith, hope, and charity are also infused
in this justification: Decree on Justification: Chapter 7.

18. Those who fall away from following the Lord and from grace can be restored through the sacrament of penance: Decree on Justification: Chapter 14.

19. The fear of hell is not a sin: Canon 8.

20. One must obey Jesus Christ as well as trust Him: Canon 21.


Bob Waters said...

Yup. I'm anathamatized by Trent- as are all who believe the Pauline doctrine of justification.

Rome isn't anti-Lutheran. It just condemns all of us to hell. Nice that it's inconsistently said otherwise elsewhere (interesting that the equally "infallible" Vatican II and Trent contradict each other on this point). Presumably, though, you are at least honest enough to recognize the JDDJ for the fraud it is.

Bill from Oregon said...

There are many good reasons here not to be a Catholic. You can only come to the conclusions of the Council of Trent by tossing out large portions of the New Testament and making up your own doctrines, which the Catholic Church claims it has the power to do.

If I have to decide between the doctrines of the Apostle Paul and the theologians of the Roman Catholic Church and bet my soul on the outcome, I will go with the Apostle.

Adomnan said...

There are many good reasons not to be a Protestant. You can only come to the conclusions of the Reformers by tossing out large portions of the New Testament and making up your own doctrines, which the Reformers certainly did.

If I have to decide between the doctrines of the Apostle Paul and the those of the Reformers and bet my soul on the outcome, I will go with the Apostle.

Maroun said...

Bob and Bill .
Could you please both of you be kind enough and tell us , how is Trent against saint Paul and his doctrine on justification?
By the way , there is no such thing as Pauline doctrine of justification as if you are saying that in the bible and in the new testament there are different doctrines of justification .
So again and very humbly and kindly , i insist that you explain to us Catholics , which canon of the council of Trent contradicted saint Paul and the bible ?
Thank you both very much in advance for the tons of explanations whith which you are going to provide us .

Jules Lapprand said...

I have a question. I am a Catholic but I spent three and a half years as a Protestant when I first came back to the faith, and now I am a practicing Catholic again.

Could you explain to me Canon 2 on Justification? I have heard and read many Catholic writers who have said that by justification we are able to merit heaven, which I do not dispute since that is very clear from the Bible. Attaching (or ingrafting) ourselves to Christ through His Sacraments we become "Partakers of the Divine Nature" and thus the way to heaven is opened "provided you persevere to the end". However Canon 2 on Justification seems clear to me that that wasn't the SOLE purpose of the death of Christ on the Cross. In other words He didn't just die for us so that we could become effective servants and earn heaven. That sounds too mechanical to me, too much like a business transaction. He also loved us and wanted us to enter into a love relationship with the Father. Is my understanding correct of this Canon? Is that what it means?

If I am correct, Protestants get upset at the notion that salvation is in part by works because it would put into question the unconditional love of God. However there is no problem with "earning" salvation when you are in a love relationship with God, and He enables us to do the good works to get there; but His love for us, its sole purpose is not just so that we can do good works. To me this doctrine does not undermine the love of God.

Do I have a good understanding of this?

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Jules,

I think you have a fine understanding of it, and that you need not worry. You have grasped it.

It is all these teachings taken together that explain the Catholic position, which is why I tried to summarize them.

I have lots more papers on these matters on my Salvation and Justification web page.