Trent on Justification

Konzil_von_TrientThe following are two short papers by Ed Bryant summarizing his study of primary sources.


Trent on Justification (Canons)

          In this official document of the Synod of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church (from here on RCC) sets forth 33 authoritative decrees regarding what the church considered heretical justification doctrine.  They pronounce a curse on those who teach any of these points.  Here are some examples of what the RCC condemned:

  1. That man may be justified before God by his own works without the grace of God.
  2. That man lost his free will in the fall.
  3. That God is the author of evil.
  4. That all works done before justification are sinful.
  5. That the ungodly are justified by faith alone and that nothing else is required.
  6. That men are justified solely by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness apart from the work of the Holy Spirit renewing the inward man.
  7. That to obtain the forgiveness of sins one must believe with an unwavering faith and know for certain that he does believe. That no one is truly justified who does not believe himself to be justified.
  8. That the grace of justification is only attained by the elect.
  9. That the commandments of God are impossible to keep even for the justified.
  10. That the justified are not required to obey the commands of God and the Church.
  11. That good works are merely the fruits and signs of justification and not the cause of the increase of righteousness.
  12. That one does not expect God to reward his good works with eternal life.
  13. That the fallen can be restored by faith alone with the sacrament of penance.
  14. That the justified have been discharged from both the eternal and temporal punishment of sin.
  15. That the Catholic doctrine of justification set forth in the decrees of the Synod fails to express the Catholic faith.

The Church of Rome responded to the Protestant’s doctrine of justification by faith alone at the Synod of Trent, 1547 and reaffirmed its opposing view as an answer to the Protestants in order to silence them.  The official Roman Catholic doctrine of justification is clearly defined the following summary statements:

  1. Through the merit of Christ’s death, grace is bestowed on those who have been born again in Christ (baptized Roman Catholic Church members) whereby they are made righteous.
  2. Justification consists in both the remission of sins and the sanctification and renewal of the inward man.
  3. Justification is said to be by faith because faith is “the beginning of salvation, the foundation and root of all justification.”
  4. It is vain confidence for one to believe for a certainty that he is absolved from sin and justified.
  5. The justified increase in righteousness through good works and obedience and are still further justified (made more righteous).
  6. One may fall from the grace of justification but may be justified again through the sacrament of penance. Justification is lost with any mortal sin as well as with the loss of faith.
  7. Those who persevere in good works and merits to the end can hope to receive eternal life as a reward in due time.
  8. One cannot be justified unless he firmly believes the Roman Catholic way of justification.

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