Jour. Theology, April, 1897 ? dikaiosu>nh , righteousness, in all its meanings, whether ethical or forensic, has back of it the idea of law and also the idea of violated law. It derives its forensic sense from the verb dikaio>w and its cognate noun dikai>wsiv; dikaiosu>nh therefore is legal acceptability, the status before the law of a pardoned sinner.?
Denney, in Expos. Gk. Test., 2:565 ? ?In truth, ?sin,?? the law,? ?the curse of the law,? ?death,? are names for something which belongs not to the Jewish but to the human conscience and it is only because this is so that the gospel of Paul is also a gospel for us. Before Christ came and redeemed the world, all men were at bottom on the same footing: Pharisaism, legalism, moralism or whatever it is called, is in the last resort the attempt to be good without God. It is an attempt to achieve a righteousness of our own, without an initial all-inclusive immeasurable debt to him. In other words, without submitting, as sinful men must submit, to be justified by faith apart from works of our own, and to find in that justification, and in that only, the spring and impulse of all good.?
It is worthy of special observation that, in the passages cited above, the terms, ?justify? and ?justification? are contrasted, not with the process at depraving or corrupting but with the outward act of condemning. The expressions used to explain and illustrate them are all derived not from the inward operation of purifying the soul or infusing into it righteousness but from the procedure of courts in their judgments, or of offended persons in their forgiveness of offenders. We conclude that these terms, wherever they have reference to the sinner?s relation to God, signify a declarative and judicial act of God, external to the sinner and not an efficient and sovereign act of God changing the sinner?s nature and making him subjectively righteous.
In the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, session 8, chap. 9, is devoted to the refutation of the ?inanis hereticorum fiducia?; and Canon 12 of the session anathematizes those who say, ?fidem justificantem nihil aliud esse quam fiduciam diviue misericordie, peccata remittentis propter Christum? or that ?justifying faith is nothing but trust in the divine mercy which pardons sins for Christ?s sake.? The Roman Catholic doctrine, on the contrary, maintains that the ground ofjustification is not simply the faith by which the sinner appropriates Christ and his atoning work but is also the new love and good works wrought within him by Christ?s Spirit. This introduces a subjective element, which is foreign to the Scripture doctrine of justification.
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