"By the Pure Grace of God Alone"

From Benjamin Warfield, "The Theology of the Reformation"
What happened at the Reformation, by means of which the forces of life were set at work through the seething, struggling mass, was the revival of vital Christianity; and this is the vera causa of all that has come out of that great revolution, in all departments of life. Men, no doubt, had long been longing and seeking after "a return of Christianity to something like primitive purity and simplicity." This was the way that an Erasmus, for example, pictured to himself the needs of his time. The difficulty was that, rather repelled by the Christianity they knew than attracted by Christianity in its primitive purity - of the true nature of which they really had no idea - they were simply feeling out in the dark. What Luther did was to rediscover vital Christianity and to give it afresh to the world. To do this was to put the spark to the train. We are feeling the explosion yet.

The Reformation was then - we insist upon it - precisely the substitution of one set of theological doctrines for another. That is what it was to Luther; and that is what, through Luther, it has been to the Christian world. Exactly what Luther did was for himself - for the quieting of his aroused conscience and the healing of his deepened sense of sin - to rediscover the great fact, the greatest of all the great facts of which sinful man can ever become aware, that salvation is by the pure grace of God alone.


Oso Famoso said...

to rediscover the great fact, the greatest of all the great facts of which sinful man can ever become aware, that salvation is by the pure grace of God alone.

Have you even read Trent? Have you read Aquinas' Summa on Grace? They are every bit as strong on Grace as Luther or Calvin.

John Bugay said...

Gee Oso, no, I usually only read the sports pages.

Oso Famoso said...

Funny. So you must set up straw men on purpose because you know that Trent affirmed the always held doctrine of salvation by grace alone.

John Bugay said...

Oso, you are so quick to draw conclusions. This is one post, it is not the whole story. It is one "two-paragraph" quote. There is no straw man there. There were five "solas" and they all needed to work together.

Oso Famoso said...

5 solas, 2 of which were invented by Martin Luther (and therefore 'traditions of man') and have no witness in scripture or tradition I might add.

But, Grace Alone, isn't one of them and this was what you were talking about in this thread.

Read Trent...I guess freshen up on it if you have read. Its filled with Grace. Read the Catechism. It explicitly says that Grace "is the source of the work of sanctification" (CCC 1999) and that our justfication "depends entirely on God's gracious initiative" (1996) and "our justification comes from the grace of God." (1996)

Did you know this when you rejected the Church in favor of what you felt was the gospel of Grace?

John Bugay said...

Oso, if you want to talk about the "five solas" (which were slogans, representative of doctrines, but not the doctrines themselves), let's look at "faith alone" prior to Martin Luther. (This is from a friend, but he has given me permission to reproduce it).

In his commentary on Romans, Catholic Theologian Fitzmyer comments that Luther was not the first to invoke "sola fide" in his translation of Romans. Others used the term in a broader context as well. Below the asterisks are what Fitzmyer states on pp. 360-361 of Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993).


At 3:28 Luther introduced the adv. “only” into his translation of Romans (1522), “alleyn durch den Glauben” (WAusg 7.38); cf. Aus der Bibel 1546, “alleine durch den Glauben” (WAusg, DB 7.39); also 7.3-27 (Pref. to the Epistle). See further his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, of 8 Sept. 1530 (WAusg 30.2 [1909], 627-49; “On Translating: An Open Letter” [LuthW 35.175-202]). Although “alleyn/alleine” finds no corresponding adverb in the Greek text, two of the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him.

Robert Bellarmine listed eight earlier authors who used sola (Disputatio de controversiis: De justificatione 1.25 [Naples: G. Giuliano, 1856], 4.501-3):

Origen, Commentarius in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. 3 (PG 14.952).

Hilary, Commentarius in Matthaeum 8:6 (PL 9.961).

Basil, Hom. de humilitate 20.3 (PG 31.529C).

Ambrosiaster, In Ep. ad Romanos 3.24 (CSEL 81.1.119): “sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei,” through faith alone they have been justified by a gift of God; 4.5 (CSEL 81.1.130).

John Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Titum 3.3 (PG 62.679 [not in Greek text]).

Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium 10.15.7 (PG 74.368 [but alludes to Jas 2:19]).

Bernard, In Canticum serm. 22.8 (PL 183.881): “solam justificatur per fidem,” is justified by faith alone.

Theophylact, Expositio in ep. ad Galatas 3.12-13 (PG 124.988).

To these eight Lyonnet added two others (Quaestiones, 114-18):

Theodoret, Affectionum curatio 7 (PG 93.100; ed. J. Raeder [Teubner], 189.20-24). [note - If I may be so bold as to correct Fitzmyer’s reference to Theodoret here. The reference in Migne is not PG 93.100, but should be PG 83.1001 - Obviously this may be a typo on the part of Fitzmyer, but at any rate I checked the reference myself and found it elsewhere in Theodorect's corpus to be PG 83.1001].

Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in Ep. I ad Timotheum cap. 1, lect. 3 (Parma ed., 13.588): “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28: Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” (Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone, Rom 3:28: We consider a human being to be justified by faith, without the works of the law). Cf. In ep. ad Romanos 4.1 (Parma ed., 13.42a): “reputabitur fides eius, scilicet sola sine operibus exterioribus, ad iustitiam”; In ep. ad Galatas 2.4 (Parma ed., 13.397b): “solum ex fide Christi” [Opera 20.437, b41]).

See further:

Theodore of Mopsuestia, In ep. ad Galatas (ed. H. B. Swete), 1.31.15.

Marius Vicorinus (ed. Pauli ad Galatas (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15-16: “Ipsa enim fides sola iustificationem dat-et sanctificationem” (For faith itself alone gives justification and sanctification); In ep. Pauli Ephesios (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15: “Sed sola fides in Christum nobis salus est” (But only faith in Christ is salvation for us).

Augustine, De fide et operibus, 22.40 (CSEL 41.84-85): “licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intellegatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur” (Although it can be said that God’s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love”).

Oso Famoso said...

Sure. More proof that you want to read the father anachronistically.

Let me just say that I encourage ANYBODY and EVERYBODY to read the fathers...I am not worried at all about their testimony.

Its funny. I have several friends who have gone through the most prominent Reformed Seminaries only to later become Catholic (one is on his way to becoming a Priest.) They report that they barely touched on early Churc history and when they did they only read commentaries by other Reformed authors and never the primary source material. Hmmm. Interesting. I wonder why?

John Bugay said...

I posted what I posted here because of your claim that Luther "invented" some of the "solas". (You didn't say which ones. But it is clear that the concept of "faith alone" was not one of his "inventions".)

True to form, you failed to interact with the substance of it. Make a fleeting comment, which doesn't really address it, and bounce off onto the next topic.

It is a tragedy that PCA-trained individuals are moving to Catholicism. But it is a trickle compared with the outflow from Rome. More, there is going to be a great deal of Protestant interest in the Reformation coming up, and a lot of serious theologians will be looking at these issues. That will only filter down and strengthen Protestant churches in the years to come.

Oso Famoso said...

Actually, you brought up the five solas first.

I noticed how you backed off and didn't interact with the CCC or Trent on Grace.

For every plucked and isolated quote from Church fathers that you throw out I can show volumes that speak to the contrary. Aquinas teaching faith alone? Yeah right.

What is clear from reading your blog is that you do not understand and most likely never understood Catholic dogma in the first place. Case and point is this very thread where you argued that the Reformation "rediscovered that salvation is by the pure grace of God alone."

I proved that the Catholic Chuch has always taught the doctrine of grace. You didn't interact with it.

I do not know any Catholics that left the Church for a confessional Reformed church. Many un-catechized Catholics are leaving for mega-churches though.

The confessional reformed churches represent about .05% of the churches in the world...

John Bugay said...

You proved nothing. You should have read more of the article:

In his detailed answer to the Bull of Excommunication, published against him in 1520, in which forty-one propositions from his writings were condemned, Luther shows plainly enough where the center of controversy lay for him. It was in the article in which he asserts the sole efficiency of grace in salvation. He makes his real appeal to Scripture, of course, but he does not neglect to point out also that he has Augustine with him and also experience. He scoffs at his opponents' pretensions to separate themselves from the Pelagians by wire-drawn distinctions between works of congruity and works of condignity. If we may secure grace by works, he says, it means nothing that we carefully name these works works of congruity and refrain from calling them works of condignity. "For what is the difference," he cries, "if you deny that grace is from our works and yet teach that it is through our works? The impious sense remains that grace is held to be given not gratis but on account of our works. For the Pelagians did not teach and do any other works on account of which they expected grace to be given than you teach and do. They are the works of the same free will and the same members, although you and they give them different names. They are the same fasting and prayers and almsgiving - but you call them works congruous to grace, they works condign to grace. The same Pelagians remain victors in both cases."

What Luther is zealous for, it will be seen, is the absolute exclusion of works from salvation, and the casting of the soul wholly upon the grace of God. He rises to full eloquence as he approaches the end of his argument, pushing his adversaries fairly to the ropes. "For when they could not deny that we must be saved by the grace of God," he exclaims, "and could not elude this truth, then impiety sought out another way of escape - pretending that, although we cannot save ourselves, we can nevertheless prepare for being saved by God's grace. What glory remains to God, I ask, if we are able to procure that we shall be saved by His grace? Does this seem a small ability - that he who has no grace shall nevertheless have power enough to obtain grace when he wishes? What is the difference between that, and saying with the Pelagians that we are saved without grace - since you place the grace of God within the power of man's will? You seem to me to be worse than Pelagius, since you put in the power of man the necessary grace of God, the necessity of which he simply denied. I say, it seems less impious wholly to deny grace than to represent it as secured by our zeal and effort, and to put it thus in our power."

John Bugay said...

Not sure if you saw Jason's recent comment. I'm sure he's not aware of this particular discussion:


"Paul makes it very clear that Abraham was not justified in any way through works, or else he would have been able to boast. Faith is what ensures the graciousness of the gospel, for faith is not a work but the reception of the work of another. That's why Paul says that "it was through faith, that it may be by grace."

For the RCs to affirm sola gratia but not sola fide, therefore, can only mean that they accept neither."

The point is that you may call it "grace," but you are not working with the same definition of grace that we are.

Oso Famoso said...

"Paul makes it very clear that Abraham was not justified in any way through works

What does James say about how Abraham was justified?

John Bugay said...

Given that you have been to WTS, you are no doubt familiar with the myriad of Reformed commentaries that discuss these passages, and how Paul relates to James. What is it that you reject about those how they harmonize those two?

Oso Famoso said...

What is it that you reject about those how they harmonize those two?

They do not harmonize. Even Martin Luther admitted as much when he called James "an epistle of straw" and tried to have it taken from the canon!

John Bugay said...

Martin Luther was a great man, but he was not the sum total of the Reformation. Indeed, there were great writers for the next 200 years after the Reformation. Would you like me to look up some of these commentaries harmonizing Paul and James for you?

Oso Famoso said...

Would you like me to look up some of these commentaries harmonizing Paul and James for you?

Let me guess...

1) James isn't talking about being justified before God but being justified before men?

John Bugay said...

Come on, Oso, you've got to pick the best commentary you can find and interact with that one. At some length, not with the one-line quips you come up with.

Oso Famoso said...

OK John.

What is the 'best' commentary on James/Paul?

John Bugay said...

I don't know what it is -- the explanations I've seen are far better than what you're positing -- but that's what you need to interact with. The little quips you make when I say something that you feel you can jump on don't impress me at all.

Oso Famoso said...

Do you think I am impressed with your banter?

Seriously give me one reasonable short (that I can read in one sitting) Protestant attempt to reconcile James and Paul.

John Bugay said...