Search Results for Justification
In Christianity justification has been the focus of much debate and controversy within the traditional Christian circles.
For the Protestant Reformers, justification refers to the idea that sinful human beings may be saved by God’s grace alone. The shortened phrase “justification through faith,” which we often hear in religious debates, more completely means “justification by grace through faith.”
The Catholic interpretation of justification emphasizes a total conversion of the sinner who comes to receive sanctifying grace, this being conferred and increased by the sacraments of the Catholic Church.
Some Protestants and Christian fundamentalists regard most of the Catholic sacraments as human fabrications, possibly leaning towards superstition, magic, paganism and the devil. For Catholics, however, the Protestant notion that one may be certain of one’s personal salvation is misguided and, technically speaking, heretical.
- Calvinism vs. Arminianism: a Debate on Faith and Freewill (prweb.com)
- Where are the Lutherans, revisited (geneveith.com)
- Justification & Sanctification (pjcockrell.wordpress.com)
- UMC Doctrine: Justification (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
- Not Faith, but Christ (inchristus.wordpress.com)
- Weekly Communion (christophermichaellofton.wordpress.com)
- Assurance of Salvation (godshammer.wordpress.com)
- Hauled Aboard the Ark – The Spiritual Journey of Peter Kreeft (onecatholicnews.wordpress.com)
- Michael Servetus (justificationbygrace.com)
- Catholics and the Saints: Part Three (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
Common beliefs among Luther and Calvin include:
- Scripture is the ultimate authority on matters of faith
- Free will is enslaved by original sin
- The doctrine of justification by grace through faith
Calvin believed that the authority of scripture is twofold. Scripture is divinely inspired but, at the same time, believers subjectively experience its divine authenticity through the “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.”
Calvinism differs most dramatically from Lutheranism by having a:
- radical dependence on scripture for church doctrine and practice
- emphasis on predestination
According to Calvinism, an omnipotent God predestined some (called “the elect”) for heaven and others, (called “the dammed”) for hell.
Unlike Luther, Calvin believed in a theocracy (church rule over national, regional and civic affairs) while Luther defended the separation of Church and State.
Calvin believed in the Eucharist but like many churches, had his own spin on just what goes on while believers partake in this holy meal.
Although Calvin believed that all works outside the Christian faith are evil (even good works), he stressed the importance of good works among the Christian community.
- John Calvin and Predestination (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)
- Why Calvinism is not for me by Peter Lumpkins (peterlumpkins.typepad.com)
- elulseged1 Blog (perspectives9.wordpress.com)
- A Day in the Life of John Calvin (owenstrachan.com)
- Producing Some Children of Hell: Religious Fallacies Entrenched throughout the Centuries (esoriano.wordpress.com)
- What’s in a name? How the consistory (or session) can alienate a church. (matthewtuininga.wordpress.com)
- Friendly Chatter About the Two Kingdoms – A Response to Brad Littlejohn (matthewtuininga.wordpress.com)
- Our ascent to Christ or Christ’s descent to us? (reformedreader.wordpress.com)
- What does Scripture say about government’s responsibility to the poor? Thoughts from John Calvin. (matthewtuininga.wordpress.com)
In secular usage “faith” [Latin fidere = trust] refers to believing in something or someone. “I have faith in the system” the man or woman on the street might say when asked about societal problems.
In a non-denominational, spiritual sense it refers to believing in a loving, supernatural power or God and that things will eventually work out. That is, it’s a view of optimism.
In the general religious sense, faith in part refers to believing in a fixed set of teachings.
The Hebrew term for faith (emunah) originally meant trust in God but in the Middle Ages it came to mean believing that God exists and that the Jewish dogmas were correct.
In Hinduism faith generally means a belief that things will eventually work out and that justice will be served – for the good and the bad – as a result of the law of karma.
In Christianity, faith generally refers to the belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—a perfectly loving and good, omnipotent, omniscient eternal Being belonging to the Holy Trinity.
In Catholicism faith is understood as both an objective truth and a subjective virtue. The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
Objectively, it [faith] stands for the sum of truths revealed by God in Scripture and tradition and which the Church…presents to us in a brief form in her creeds, subjectively, faith stands for the habit or virtue by which we assent to those truths.¹
- Faith and Action (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Galatians 3:9&14 (gracegalatians.wordpress.com)
- Fear or Faith ??? (footsoldiers4christ.wordpress.com)
- What Is A Vigorous Faith In God? (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)
- Accomplished by Faith… (webmasteryates.wordpress.com)
- You might be a hypocrite if…you turn Jesus’ message of faith and love into one of fear and hate. (god-still-speaks.com)
- Faith (briancoatney.com)
The idea of grace has two aspects—one worldly and the other spiritual and religious. In everyday terms, grace refers to elegance, beauty, refinement and decency.
In spirituality and religion, the word grace has a different, often related meaning. Generally speaking, among world religions grace refers to some kind of favorable disposition and positive action of God (or gods/goddesses) toward a person, group or humanity as a whole.
The results of a deity’s action toward humanity can be visible (e.g. narrowly escaping death “by the Grace of God”) or invisible (e.g. feeling good in ways that worldly methods, alone, cannot achieve).
In Catholicism, grace is understood as a gift that is freely given by God, the creator, to a rational creature (mankind) for the purpose of salvation and everlasting bliss in heaven.
Catholicism speaks of many different kinds of grace, for instance: actual, baptismal, efficacious, elevating, external, habitual, illuminating, imputed, interior, irresistible, natural, prevenient, sacramental, sanctifying, substantial and sufficient.
In pop music, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi of Traffic put it this way:
Sometimes your life can be sidetracked, getting lost in things you don’t need
But we all lose direction in a world of greed
Some people’s lives end in ruin, some people’s lives never start
Someone knows what you’re doing deep in your heart
In the hour of need you stood ready, looked danger right in the face
Your heart is moved by the spirit when you’re living
Living in a state of grace
There’s a world never ending, sorrow and pain don’t exist
We can live there together, you can’t resist
Just when you think you can’t take it, dreams disappear into space
Trust in your heart, you can make it, when you’re living
Living in a state of grace¹
¹ Traffic, Far From Home, 1994. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_from_Home
- The Color of Grace (biblicalnotes.com)
- Everyone heard the words “prevenient grace” at Mass on Thursday, but few people know what it means. Here’s an explanation… (te-deum.blogspot.com)
- The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace (justificationbygrace.com)
- Total Depravity/Prevenient Grace – Articles of the Arminian Remonstrance: Part 3 (theologicalarsenal.wordpress.com)
- God’s Grace (gospelapprentice.com)
- Law and Grace (wdednh.wordpress.com)
The term heterodox means about the same thing as “unorthodox.” It denotes views and related practices opposed to and usually publicly condemned by established figures or leaders. The word heterodox is found in religious and secular matters.
In religion, a heterodox position might be an outright heresy, which counters core doctrines, or it may just be different enough from standard teachings to elicit public condemnation from orthodox leaders.
Historically, both Protestant and Catholic forms of Christianity have imprisoned, tortured and burned people alive for holding apparently Satanic views about the nature of Christ or some other item of dogma. In retrospect, any reasonable person is compelled to ask who was really behaving like a devil.
Today, the Catholic Church publicly opposes some charismatic preachers of Christianity while accepting others. The tension between orthodox and heterodox groups seems to be greatest when they share areas of ideological overlap.
Sociologists and Religious Studies professors like John Gager say that whenever the beliefs and practices of an out-group get a bit too close for comfort to those of an established in-group, members of the in-group get upset. The in-group then wants to better define its boundaries, which may lead to exclusion, condemnation or, as we’ve seen in the often grisly march of human history, persecution.
According to this theory, it’s the similarity of the two groups that riles the established in-group. Radically different out-groups lacking some kind of thematic overlap with an entrenched in-group are usually ignored. But when an out-group hits a nerve by getting too ideologically close to the in-group—that’s when sparks fly.
This dynamic apparently took place between the early Christians and the Gnostics. And a similar kind of dynamic continues to this day.¹
The following is a smattering of historical usage for the term “heterodox” from the Oxford English Dictionary, illustrating its different meanings that have existed through the centuries:
1650 J. Row Hist. Kirk Scotl. (1842) 354 Christ’s locall descending to hell, and divers others heterodoxe doctrines.
1658 G. Starkey Natures Explic. 18 Whosoever should dare to swarve from these [Galen and Aristotle]‥being looked upon as Heterodox, was the object of scorn and derision.
1859 W. Collins Queen of Hearts I. 20 The Major‥held some strangely heterodox opinions on the modern education of girls.
¹ See “DVD Review – The Murder of Mary Magdalene: Genocide of the Holy Bloodline” » http://epages.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/
- Entering the Justification Debate (greenbaggins.wordpress.com)
- Poaching and Trespassing in the Royal Forest (missionmusings.wordpress.com)
- Letter by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Archbishop of Athens Hieronymos protesting against the “Confession of Faith against Ecumenism” (consensuspatrum.wordpress.com)
- Demons and Repentance: Part 1 (aleksandreia.wordpress.com)
- The Re-admittance of the Heterodox (vatopaidi.wordpress.com)
- Time’s Padgett Likens ‘Misogynous’ Catholic Church to Segregationists (newsbusters.org)
- 17 November 2011. An Illustration of the Konvertsy “Mind”… Lockstep Stepford Wives-Style Conformity, Anyone? (02varvara.wordpress.com)
- Subversive Fulfillment and the “Datu Mentality” (missionmusings.wordpress.com)
- 23 October 2011. Jillions “Accepts” Chancellor’s Office… Is He Going to Live in Ottawa or Syosset? (02varvara.wordpress.com)
Some Religious Studies scholars talk a lot about the meaning of the iconic image. Several scholarly books have been written on this topic. But for everyday churchgoers, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. For them, an icon or religious image’s purpose is to help focus the mind on that which it represents. Ideally, this helps the viewer to receive divine graces. But in Christianity, graces are never understood to emanate from the icon itself.
If the icon “works” in its assistive capacity, the fact that the icon’s appearance is artistically and culturally influenced is of secondary importance, at best.¹
Some icons of the Virgin Mary allegedly cry and/or bleed. If these miracles are true and not shams, the agency would be God. Again, the Christian icon is not imbued with a special quality of its own, nor is it regarded in this way.
Some fundamentalist Christians, however, criticize Catholic and Orthodox Christians for the use of “graven images.” But the Catholic pamphlet, “Graven Images: Altering the Commandments?” outlines some of the problems with a simplistic, cherry-picked fundamentalist approach:
Now if God simply forbids the making of graven images, then there are problems elsewhere in the Bible. First, in Exodus 25:18-21, God commands Moses to make two statues of angels (cherubim) for the top of the Ark of the Covenant. Later in Numbers 21:8-9, God commands Moses to make a bronze serpent, so that the people who were bitten by snakes could look upon it and be healed (Source: http://users.binary.net/polycarp/graven.html).
In the popular, everyday sense, an icon is a representation of some kind of charismatic cultural figure, such as Elvis Presley. After a pop star’s death, the realities of the real person and the icon may merge, and the new legend becomes a type of mythology. But this isn’t always the case. With Michael Jackson, for instance, the media aired all manner of Jackson’s dirty laundry, which almost eclipsed his artistic legacy.
¹ However, in her Divine Mercy Diary, St. Kowalska says she cried when an artistic rendering fell dramatically short of an actual vision she had of Jesus Christ. This arguably was a special case because St. Faustina apparently saw Jesus on a near-daily basis. So her desire for others to see his great beauty was intensified. Today, several versions of that image are often placed in Catholic churches. Despite the fact that the image falls short of that which it represents, it still helps countless believers feel closer to Christ.
- Why I Disagree With Depictions Of Jesus (translucentheart.wordpress.com)
- About Catholicism: Of Dracula and the Black Sheep Dog (gingerjar2.wordpress.com)
- The Real Origin of the Eastern Orthodox Icon (beyondbelief.wordpress.com)
- Justification (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Transfiguration (caelumetterra.wordpress.com)
- Meagan Fisher on “Flat, simple icons for interface design” (dccrowley.posterous.com)
- Housecleaning – Idols and Idolatry (raymondjclements.wordpress.com)
The Just War doctrine relates to the notion that, in certain circumstances, war may be ethically justified for reasons of personal, national or religious self-defense. This has nothing to do with a disturbed individual taking on the role of “savior” of humanity through horrific and irrational acts of violence, as we’ve recently seen, for instance, in Norway.
With no direct New Testament scriptural support for the idea of a Just War, Catholic Tradition endorses it. St. Augustine supports the Just War on the basis of numerous holy wars portrayed in the Old Testament. The Middle Ages endorsed it in the Inquisitions. And the most recent Catholic Catechism cites St. Thomas Aquinas, who condones killing as a legitimate form of self defense, be that personal or national (1995: p. 604).
The contemporary understanding of the Just War speaks to the organized killing, when absolutely necessary, of other human beings on the wrong side of the religious or political fence. All peaceful solutions have failed, the enemy poses some kind of grand scale threat and there’s a reasonable expectation of victory. Most theologians, for instance, would agree that Hitler and the Nazi’s simply had to be stopped.
Similarities and Differences in non-Christian Religions
In Islam, the notion of Jihad might point to a uniquely Islamic understanding of a kind of ‘Just War’ doctrine (although it would not be called a Just War because that is a uniquely Christian concept). And in Hinduism, the Baghavad-Gita endorses killing in keeping with one’s moral duty to uphold the apparently sacred dharma. While it may be hard for many to see what these two forms of war have to do with self-defense, an intellectual argument could probably be made within each religion to try to convince others that these kinds of war are about self-defense. One, of course, doesn’t have to agree. And God knows the truth of the matter.
Meanwhile, Buddhist scriptures speak of peace and non-violence, and Buddhism is often hailed as a non-violent path. But Moojan Momen points out that scriptural, philosophical and folkloric justifications for violence exist in the Buddhist tradition (Moojan Momen, The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach, Oxford: Oneworld, 1999, p. 410). Bernard Faure also says that Buddhist doctrine has often been adapted to justify war (Bernard Faure, “Buddhism and Violence,” Sangam.org, December 6, 2003). And John Ferguson draws on scripture, legend and history to outline five justifications for war in the Buddhist tradition (War and Peace in the World’s Religions, London: Sheldon Press, 1977, pp. 55-57).
- Religion and War (epages.wordpress.com)
- Killing The Buddha (samharris.org)
- What are different between Japanese buddhism and Chinese Buddhism (wiki.answers.com)
- Idolatry: Can the blind lead the blind? – Part 2 (1joh4.wordpress.com)
St. John of the Cross (originally Juan de Yepes y Álvarez 1542-91) was a Spanish mystic born in Ávila.
As a Carmelite monk, he and St. Teresa of Ávila founded the Discalced Carmelites.
In Toledo he was imprisoned in 1577, but he escaped and became Vicar Provincial of Andalusia (1585-87).¹
Today, St. John of the Cross is best known in Catholic and contemplative Christian circles as the author of the Christian spiritual classic, Dark Night of the Soul.
In this introspective account St. John writes from personal experience about the delights and dejection involved in his own path of spiritual purification.
The work is reminiscent of another Christian classic, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. And it is often cited by Jungians and other contemporary seekers as justification for long periods of feeling lousy, alienated and/or depressed (Carl Jung, himself, used an alchemical metaphor to describe depression as the nigredo—a stage of inner darkness).
While it seems that the spiritual life can involve initial periods of psycho-spiritual darkness and confusion, we should remember that, like St. John indicates, this is usually only a stage. With healthy-minded mysticism, as William James would have put it, some kind of inner “daylight” and meaning should emerge after a period of profound confusion, despair and seeming meaningless.
However, the two states may continue to alternate to some extent through the course of one’s new life. Christian seekers use another metaphor for the negative states, calling them periods of “dryness.” This comes from the idea that the Holy Spirit is experienced as a kind of pure and clean spiritual “water” from above.
St. John was canonized in 1726 and his feast day is on December 14th.
¹ This is well described at Wikipedia:
On the night of 2 December 1577, John was taken prisoner by his superiors in the calced Carmelites, who had launched a counter-program against John and Teresa’s reforms. John had refused an order to return to his original house, on the basis that his reform work had been approved by the Spanish Nuncio, a higher authority than John’s direct superiors in the calced Carmelites. John was jailed in Toledo, where he was kept under a brutal regimen that included public lashing before the community at least weekly, and severe isolation in a tiny stifling cell barely large enough for his body. He managed to escape nine months later, on 15 August 1578, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell. (He had managed to pry the cell door off its hinges earlier that day). In the meantime, he had composed a great part of his most famous poem Spiritual Canticle during this imprisonment; his harsh sufferings and spiritual endeavours are then reflected in all of his subsequent writings. The paper was passed to him by one of the friars guarding his cell.
- A checklist spirituality that focuses on doing things (opusfree.wordpress.com)
- For All the Beauty There May Be (stevebeckow.com)
- Pope Recommends Spiritual Direction to Every Christian (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
- Book Note | Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words by Brian D. McLaren (benjaminvineyard.com)
- Basilica Status Sought for Church Where John of Avila Rests (onecatholicorg.wordpress.com)
- Spain: a pilgrimage to the ancient Kingdom of Castile (telegraph.co.uk)
- June 24 in history (homepaddock.wordpress.com)
- The Heart of a Saint: Introduction and Chapter 1 (savedbygodsgrace.wordpress.com)
- Knowing God, Knowing Myself (palamas.info)
After a traditional education, Luther entered an Augustinian monastery in 1505. He was ordained as a priest in 1507 and in 1512 earned the title of Doctor of Theology and Professor of Scripture at Wittenberg.
Luther became widely known as a reformer after visiting Rome in 1510-11, where he was appalled by the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences. In 1517 he denied the Pope‘s authority to forgive sins by posting his 95 theses on the Church door at Wittenberg.
Apparently intended as a mere theological argument, intense controversy followed this pivotal act.
Luther was called to Rome to defend his theses. He ignored the summons and continued to challenge the papacy even more forcefully, publicly setting to flames the papal bull that condemned his activities.
A Church order was given to destroy his written works. Luther was called before the Diet at Worms and expelled from the Empire. His Augsburg Confession, where the character Melanchthon represents his own views, is a benchmark for the German Reformation (1530).
Luther married a nun and had six children, one of whom died young. In his later years he showed definite signs of antisemitism, which has lead to his controversial status.¹
Related Posts » Bach (Johann Sebastian), Calvin (John), Calvinism, Confirmation, Consubstantiation, Erasmus Desiderius, Evil, Holy, Justification, More (St. Thomas), Nietzsche (Friedrich), Numinous, Otto (Rudolf)
- Celebrating the Birth of Martin Luther (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- What man started the reformation movement (wiki.answers.com)
- Does Twitter take itself too seriously? [Jeff Mowatt] (ecademy.com)
- ‘Wittenberg’ is an intellectual workout with Hamlet, Faustus and Luther (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Calvin, Luther and Zwingli: Devotees of Mary (trustinjesus.wordpress.com)
Broadly speaking, magic is the use of supernatural power to cause an effect on or gain knowledge of people, souls, animals, vegetation, objects, the elements and events. Magical procedures may involve elaborate ritual and are variously directed towards the past, present, future and afterlife or some combination thereof.
A distinction is usually made between white and black magic. White magic is allegedly intended to help people. Black magic is revengeful with the intent to harm others and thus more clearly evil.
Sympathetic magic is the belief that one event causes another, so the magician imitates a desired outcome. A positive example would be painting animals on a cave wall in the belief that this will enrich the hunt. A negative example would be believing that a barren woman is the cause of a blighted crop.
Contagious magic is based on the belief that things once in physical contact or proximity continue to have a magical connection after they’re separated.
The most familiar example of Contagious Magic is the magical sympathy which is supposed to exist between a man and any severed portion of his person, as his hair or nails; so that whoever gets possession of human hair or nails may work his will, at any distance, upon the person from whom they were cut. This superstition is world-wide.¹
Another distinction is made between magic and religion. As Joachim Wach (1898-1955) suggests:
Religion differs from magic in that it is not concerned with control or manipulation of the powers confronted. Rather it means submission to, trust in, and adoration of, what is apprehended as the divine nature of ultimate reality.²
However S. G. F. Brandon says this is a biased perspective:
…such attempts generally rest on a priori definitions of the two entities concerned.³
Sociologists also point out similarities between magical and religious rituals. However, structural similarities do not necessarily entail equivalence.
We could, for instance, say that Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and New York are both big cities. Each has roads, buildings, people, movie halls and markets. But anyone visiting these two locales will be struck by their differences.
While an outsider may think that religious and magical rituals look the same and bring about similar results, to believers (on both sides) the numinous results differ dramatically. Modern magicians often say (or imply) that religious ritual is just an empty shell, cut off from any spiritual meaning it may have once had. Meanwhile, many contemporary religious persons shun magical rituals, often saying that the result brings about a kind of dark, gloomy, heavy and obscuring spirituality that is the work of evil.
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¹ Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). The Golden Bough. 1922. http://bartelby.org/196/7.html
² Joachim Wach, The Comparative Study of Religions, ch. 2, Columbia University Press (1958), cited in The Columbia World of Quotations, 1996.
³ Dictionary of Comparative Religion, ed. S. G. F. Brandon, New York: Charles Scribners & Sons, 1970, p. 418.
- What is Magic, Really? (teachstreet.com)
- In your blog yesterday, you wrote that you used to “talk smack about Chaos Magick”. I hope you won’t be offended, but a lot of what you write seems a lot like Chaos Magic. What are the things that you don’t like about Chaos Magic? (strategicsorcery.blogspot.com)
- Most cultures have strong ideas about what kind of magic is “women’s magic” and what kind is only for men. Is there any basis for any of these distinctions, outside of cultural mores? Anything an aspiring sorceress should do differently from a sorcerer? (strategicsorcery.blogspot.com)
- My Chaos Magic Re-look (strategicsorcery.blogspot.com)
- 4E Ritual- Empower Magic Item from Big Ball of No Fun (bigballofnofun.blogspot.com)
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