08 July 2010

No Church Without It

There never was, and there never can be, any true Christian church without the doctrine of justification.
--Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei (Cambridge University Press, 1986), 1

3 comments:

Gavin Ortlund said...

wow! That one really nails me. Reminds me of Calvin and Luther who said the church stands or fall on justification. Its a doctrine I am hoping to start thinking more about soon. Question: what would you say is the best book, classic or contemporary, on justification?

Dane Ortlund said...

It's interesting Gav that McGrath omits this statement from the most recent ed of this book, 2005. Hmm.

Best contemp: Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The 'Lutheran' Paul and His Critics

Best classic: Calvin in Inst 3.11ff or Bavinck's discussion early on in Vol 4 of Reformed Dogmatics

Drew said...

I thought that was interesting too, Dane. My guess is he omitted it because of the terrible (and unbiblical) implications of such a statement. As he shows in Iustitia Dei, Luther's doctrine of justification was a theological novelty in the tradition of the Church, unknown to the catholic consensus of the Church prior to the Reformation. Even the 'doctor of grace' Augustine did not believe and teach justification by faith alone, understood as the imputation of Christ's merited righteousness to the believer.

If such a statement were true, the 'true Christian church' fell away sometime (when?) after the apostles died and was restored through Luther. If that doesn't rub a Christian the wrong way, then God help us.