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Sola gratia

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Sola gratia (Latin: by grace alone) is one of the Five solae propounded to summarise the Lutheran and Reformed leaders' basic beliefs during the Protestant Reformation.[1] These Lutheran and Reformed leaders believed that this emphasis was in contradistinction to the teaching of the Catholic Church, though it had explicitly affirmed the doctrine of sola gratia in the year 529 at the Council of Orange, which condemned the Pelagian heresy.[2] As a response to this misunderstanding, Catholic doctrine was further clarified in the Council of Trent. This Council explained that salvation is made possible only by grace, and that the faith and works of men are secondary means that have their origins in and are sustained by grace.

During the Reformation, Lutheran and Reformed theologians generally believed the Roman Catholic view of the means of salvation to be a mixture of reliance upon the grace of God, and confidence in the merits of one's own works performed in love, pejoratively called Legalism. These Reformers posited that salvation is entirely comprehended in God's gifts (that is, God's act of free grace), dispensed by the Holy Spirit according to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ alone.

Consequently, they argued that a sinner is not accepted by God on account of the change wrought in the believer by God's grace, and indeed, that the believer is accepted without any regard for the merit of his works—for no one deserves salvation, a concept that some take to the extreme of Antinomianism, a doctrine that argues that if someone is saved, he/she has no need to live a holy life, given that salvation is already "in the bag".

It is also linked to the five points of Calvinism.

Being synergists, those of Wesleyan-Arminian soteriology, such as Methodists, take a different approach to sola gratia than Lutherans and Reformed Christians, holding that God, through prevenient grace, reaches out to all individuals though they have the free will to cooperate with that grace or reject it.[3]

Recent activity[edit]

In November 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity issued the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" that said, "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 us and calling us to good works."[4]

On July 18, 2006, delegates to the World Methodist Conference voted unanimously to adopt the declaration. The Methodists' resolution said the 1999 agreement "expresses a far-reaching consensus in regard to the theological controversy which was a major cause of the split in Western churches in the 16th century" over salvation by grace alone or by grace and good works.

Some conservative Protestants still believe the differences between their views and those of the Catholics remain substantial, however. They insist that this agreement does not fully reconcile the differences between the Reformist and Catholic viewpoints on this subject.[5][6][7][8][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barber, John (2008). The Road from Eden: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Academica Press. p. 233. ISBN 9781933146348. The message of the Lutheran and Reformed theologians has been codified into a simple set of five Latin phrases: Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone). 
  2. ^ White, R. A., "Sola Gratia, Solo Christo: The Roman Catholic Doctrine of Justification," http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/a134.htm
  3. ^ Olson, Roger E. (20 September 2009). Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. InterVarsity Press. p. 95. ISBN 9780830874439. Arminians do not think so; they hold a form of evangelical synergism that sees grace as the efficient cause of salvation and calls faith the sole instrumental cause of salvation to the exclusion of human merits. 
  4. ^ Joint declaration on the doctrine of justification, by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church on The Holy See home page
  5. ^ "Welcome to WELS". Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. 
  6. ^ The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Confessional Lutheran Perspective
  7. ^ McCain, Rev. Paul T. (12 March 2010). "A Betrayal of the Gospel: The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification". First Things. ISSN 1047-5141. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  8. ^ Gerlach, Joel, A Question of Indulgences - Again, Forward in Christ, October 1999
  9. ^ An Appeal to Evangelicals, by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc.

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