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Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification [Paperback]

By Lutheran World Federation (Author), Roman Catholic Church (Joint Author) & Catholic Church (Author)
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Item description for Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by Lutheran World Federation, Roman Catholic Church & Catholic Church...

This volume presents in English the official Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, confirmed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in Augsburg, Germany, in October 1999. The results of decades of Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue, this primary document represents an ecumenical event of historical signifance.

Publishers Description
This volume presents in English the official Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, confirmed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in Augsburg, Germany, in October 1999. The result of decades of Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue, this primary document represents an ecumenical event of historical significance.

Included in the volume are the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and the Official Common Statement with its Annex. These texts are recommended for careful study in seminaries and parishes and for reading by individual Christians. It is hoped that the Joint Declaration will deepen understanding of the biblical message of justification and also serve to further reflection within the wider ecumenical movement.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   47
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 5.99" Height: 0.18"
Weight:   0.21 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 31, 2000
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802847749  
ISBN13  9780802847744  

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Reviews - What do customers think about Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification?

Renunciation of Linguistic Fallacies  Jun 9, 2007
This is a very significant document that theoretically puts aside the crux of the Protestant Reformation. In my own research prior to this document's release, I concluded that the differences on the subject of justification between the Protestant and Catholic positions were the result of two linguistic fallacies: (1) Equivocation and (2) Distinction without a Difference (Difvocation). Equivocation is about terms sounding the same but the underlying definitions that the parties are using are different. In this case terms like "saved" meant something different to the Protestant or Evangelical vs. the Catholic. To the Protestant it referred to the event of justification. To Catholics it can refer to entering heaven. Significant differences. Difvocation is about terms sounding differently but having the same underlying definition. In this case "saved" (for the Protestant or Evangelical) and "justification" (for the Catholic). What is significant with the Agreement on Justification (and it is much more involved that the simple illustration I just gave) is that neither church changed any of their doctrines to come to this agreement. That is strong evidence that the problem since the Protestant Reformation, on this issue, was linguistic confusion. Duh!!! As to the imputed vs. infused debate, I think the authors understood that this too might be labeled also as Difvocation. This is a bit dicer because there is a definitional difference between infused justification (the person is made sinless) and imputed (the person is just claimed to be forgiven). Infused refers to totally wiping away the sin; while imputed refers to Luther's concept of covering up the pile of dung with snow. But in the end, the difference has no meaning. Regardless of which position you take, it changes nothing about what a person is suppose to believe or do to get to heaven. It is a distinction without a difference. This document does all of that.
Thank God  Mar 1, 2007
This little book proves that a reunification of the Catholic Church is possible. The book is essential in an understanding of what unites Christians.
Roman Catholics win on this one  Jan 5, 2006
Sometimes it amazes me how theologians sometimes can miss the important trees because they want to look at an apparently harmonious forest. Here is one document that cuts down important trees just to make the forest look all nice and green.

It seems that the way that the document is phrased it was skewed in favour of the Roman Catholic side. Sure, the formulators talk a lot about grace, faith, etc. but it is decidedly towards an un-Protestant perspective. For instance, point #11 states: "Justification is the forgiveness of sins (cf. Rom 3:23-25; Acts 13:39; Lk 18:14), liberation from the dominating power of sin and death (Rom 5:12-21) and from the curse of the law (Gal 3:10-14)" (p. 13). No good Protestant will say that justification involves the "liberation from the dominating power of sin and death." Also, in point #15 the document states: "Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father" (p. 15). The formulators forgot to mention whether this righteousness from Christ is an infused or imputed one (more likely the former the way the whole document sounds).

Another point in the document skewed in favour of the RCC position are points #28 and #29. Point #28 states: "The justified also must ask God daily for forgiveness, as in the Lord's Prayer (Mt. 6:12; 1 Jn 1:9), are ever again called to conversion and penance, and are ever again granted forgiveness" (p. 21). And #29: "But when individuals voluntarily separate themselves from God, it is not enough to return to observing the commandments, for they must receive pardon and peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation through the word of forgiveness imparted to them in virtue of God's reconciling work in Christ" (p. 22). It sure sounds like a true believer must pray for forgiveness and do some "penance" after committing some sin in order to be restored back to a right standing before God again (compare this statement with the WCF XI.5). The document, thus, is not an endeavor to find a common "consensus" between Lutherans and Roman Catholics on the doctrine of justification but merely a reaffirmation of Roman Catholic soteriology.

Finally, the document states in point #39 that the Lutherans understand "eternal life in accord with the New Testament as unmerited 'reward' in the sense of the fulfillment of God's promise to the believer" (p. 25). The document does not say who earns this "reward." Traditional Protestants (Lutherans, Reformed, Anglicans, Baptists, etc.) argue that Christ merited the reward of eternal life on behalf of the elect by perfectly fulfilling the righteous demands of the law. This righteousness, therefore, is imputed (not infused or imparted) to those who believe. However, it looks like the document states that believers themselves must somehow earn this "reward" (eternal life) through their non-meritorious good works. This is not something any right-minded evangelical Protestant (Lutheran or otherwise) can comfortably live with.

Overall, this document accomplished little but give the Roman Catholic Church an extra weapon to use against Protestants. Hopefully someday a much better and more biblical document will be published by evangelical Protestants of various backgrounds showing the total incompatibility between Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants on this very important subject.
By grace alone...  Jul 26, 2004
It often amazes me that there seems to be an inverse relationship to the importance of a document and the number of words contained therein. Think of how few words are in the Lord's Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the Gettysburg Address. This book continues in that fashion. In a mere 38 pages of text, this small booklet represents a major move in ecumenical understanding between Catholic and Protestant churches.

For hundreds of years, the Lutheran church, the definitive church of the start of the Reformation, and the Roman Catholic church have looked suspiciously upon each other in political and theological circles. With the fall of markedly theocratic states in the West, the overt national/party political aspects of the division were able to be set aside, so that dialogue could be undertaken in earnest in theological matters.

The doctrine of Justification is important for Christians -- one of Luther's primary concerns against the institutional church was its practices with regard to justification; the Roman Catholic church in many ways tacitly agreed with many of Luther's criticisms in the developments of the Counter-Reformation. However, given the personalities and the politics involved (not the least of which involved the Lutherans and the Catholics describing each other's institution and leadership in terms of being the antichrist), dialogue and agreement was hardly possible.

The twentieth century may be remembered as the century in which ages-old attitudes began to change, and ecumenical action in earnest began to develop. As stated in the preamble, this document does not describe all that either the Lutheran or the Roman Catholic churches hold as part of their doctrines of justification; however, it does cover those areas of common accord. On the basis of these broad areas, both sides agree that the remaining differences are no longer grounds for doctrinal condemnations.

The common agreement comes down to this: that by grace alone, and not through any particular merit earned or created on our part, in faith in Christ's salvific work. It denies works righteousness without rendering irrelevant the good works people can and should do; it denies a monopoly on God's grace by any human being or institution, or the absence of grace from such.

While the document of the Joint Declaration is new, the sentiments are not; there is a brief section on sources that show how the principles contained here come from the longer traditions of the churches, and are not made up by committee.

This is an important work, worthy of study by Catholics and Protestants as a beacon of hope for reconciliation among Christians, that they truly may all be one body in Christ.

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