Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Methodists join the Roman Catholic and Lutheran statement on Justification

BY STACY MEICHTRY © 2006 Religion News Service
Methodist churches took a key step toward mending relations with the Vatican, adding their approval to an interfaith accord that aims to repair divisions dating back to the 16th century Protestant Reformation.

On Sunday (July 23), the World Council of Methodists, a body representing more than 65 million faithful, met in Seoul, South Korea, and signed the "Joint Declaration on Justification." That document, signed by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, aimed to settle disagreements over "justification" -- the issue of whether salvation is God-given or earned through good works.
Read The World Methodist Council and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

While many Adventist will look at this as Protestants joining hands with Roman Catholics in a very real sense it is only a concession on the part of the Roman Catholics. The ending statements in these agreements are very consistent with the Protestant understanding of Justification by Faith. The document quotes:
15. In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. 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. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.

16. All people are called by God to salvation in Christ. Through Christ alone are we
justified, when we receive this salvation in faith. Faith is itself God’s gift through the Holy Spirit who works through word and sacrament in the community of believers and who, at the same time, leads believers into that renewal of life which God will bring to completion in eternal life.

17. We also share the conviction that the message of justification directs us in a
special way towards the heart of the New Testament witness to God’s saving action in Christ: it tells us that as sinners our new life is solely due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we receive in faith, and never can merit in any way.
While the Roman Catholic church is on the right track with reform, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches are still in need of reform on the doctrine of Justification by Faith since both are still focused upon the idea of Justification being a matter of substitution, where God sees Christ's righteousness which we hide behind.

For more see the article Justification by Faith...No Hiding from God

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