Heidelberg Catechism 20
Q. Are all people then saved through Christ
just as they were lost through Adam?
Only those are saved
who through true faith
are grafted into Christ
and receive all his benefits.
One of the interesting subtleties of the catechism is how it describes salvation. It is not actually faith that saves; faith is the mechanism by which salvation comes, but does not save in itself. Salvation comes from being grafted into Christ. Union with Christ is the essence of salvation and the fundamental distinguishing feature of the Christian.
To be lost in Adam is to be separated from God. To be saved in Jesus is greater than being found my him – it is to be joined to him…
A common pastoral struggle is the work of reminding Christians that they rest upon Christ and his finished work alone for their assurance of salvation. The necessity of regularly preaching the gospel partially flows from a sin-induced, immature forgetfulness. The child of God forgets, or doubts, why the Father has adopted them into his family. A nagging pride can leave some convinced that they merited their salvation. Or fear can convince the Christian that Jesus’ work was not enough, and that there needs to be more: more faithfulness, less sin, on the Christian’s part, in order to be accepted. Sometimes sheer ignorance, or confusion, is the source of the error…
On July 5th the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) joined the JDDJ. The WCRC’s statement of association, like the World Methodist Council, adds areas of distinct Reformed emphasis on justification. These additions are both far superior to anything produced in the original JDDJ or its subsequent additions, while simultaneously being the most disappointing additions…
Christianity Today published a review on Protestant-Catholic relations that focused upon two books, the first written by Protestant-turned Catholic Peter Kreeft, the other co-authored by Protestants Kenneth J. Collins (Catholic converted to Wesleyanism) and Jerry L. Walls, a Baptist. Both books address the JDDJ, with Kreeft calling it, “the greatest ecumenical achievement in the five hundred years since the Reformation.” Collins and Walls dedicate an entire chapter to the JDDJ, in which they echo the concerns of the LCMS and hit the same points that I addressed in my previous post.
The World Methodist Council adopted the JDDJ in August, 2006, with some additions to reflect distinctly Wesleyan understandings of justification. It is interesting that the Methodists constantly cite John Wesley to express their theological points and scriptural interpretation; the Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed all cite their exegetical tradition or confessional statements, not individual theologians.
The Methodist additions to the JDDJ, like the Lutheran comments, functionally defer to the Catholic structure of understanding justification. Any notable doctrinal difference between the Methodists and the initial JDDJ undercuts the common consensus on the foundational nature of justification that the Lutherans and Catholics are attempting to achieve….
I had intended to keep up my comments on the Joint Declaration on Justification (JDDJ) that I began this summer, but time got away from me.
The JDDJ sets out to demonstrate that there is a common consensus between the Lutheran and Catholic signatories on the fundamental aspects of the doctrine of justification. The JDDJ is a reminder that Protestants need to engage with Roman Catholics as they actually are, not with caricatures of them…
There is much to commend with the report, as I previously mentioned. However, the JDDJ falls short of addressing the primary concerns that confessional Protestants and Trentine Catholics had with the doctrine of justification….