11 October, 2011

Jaroslav Pelikan on the Catholicity of the Reformation

'Every major tenet of the Reformation had considerable support in the catholic tradition. That was eminently true of the central Reformation teaching of justification by faith alone…That the ground of our salvation is the unearned favor of God in Christ, and that all we need do to obtain it is to trust that favor – this was the confession of great catholic saints and teachers…Rome’s reactions [to the Protestant reformers] were the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Trent and the Roman Catechism based upon those decrees. In these decrees, the Council of Trent selected and elevated to official status the notion of justification by faith plus works, which was only one of the doctrines of justification in the medieval theologians and ancient fathers. When the reformers attacked this notion in the name of the doctrine of justification by faith alone – a doctrine also attested to by some medieval theologians and ancient fathers – Rome reacted by canonizing one trend in preference to all the others. What had previously been permitted(justification by faith alone), now became forbidden. In condemning the Protestant Reformation, the Council of Trent condemned part of its own catholic tradition.'

Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006) The Riddle Of Roman Catholicism (Abingdon Press, 1959)[italics mine]

Note - No, Pelikan is not a church father (!), but we thought this paragraph from one of his early books was worth recording here. We're filing it under a new category, 'Modern Authors', in which we hope to have more quotes soon, and under 'Lutherans on the Fathers', since Pelikan was Lutheran when he wrote this.
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