Justification by faith is an imperative aspect of the Christian faith, no matter one’s denomination. This aspect is stressed in the beginning of the book of Romans when Paul is evangelizing to Galatia. The Judaizers, who believed Gentile converts needed to keep the old law, were disagreeing with Paul’s view that Gentiles needed just faith to become followers of Christ. By pointing out the similarities of both Jews and Gentiles, he explains justification by faith for all who believe in this powerful verse, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22-2).” This following paper will compare and contrast the theology regarding justification by faith held by Catholics versus Lutherans. By first defining both Catholic and Protestant theology of justification by faith, the root differences, and how they interpret passages differently, we can have a greater understanding of justification by faith (Hereafter JBF).
The Catholic theology maintains that righteousness is a real substance, and that when a person has faith in God, righteousness is poured into that person. This belief is that a human being is unrighteous before baptism and through ongoing conversion God makes one really righteous through sanctifying grace. Catholics also believe that justification and sanctification are the same, which means that someone is righteous not only by having faith but also through cooperation with sanctifying grace that is already there.
Generally, Protestants believe justification by faith is more of a legal thing, and that God looks at one in a different way after conversion. This view is a forensic view, and means that through Jesus’ sacrifice, one’s debt is paid so that God can call one righteous, but that one remains a sinner. Lutherans as well as other Protestants will split justification and sanctification, meaning that through faith one is righteous, but generally sanctification comes from prior justification. This view differs from the Catholic’s view of JBF due to three main reasons: separation of justification and sanctification, the way one is perceived from God through faith, and the belief that Romans 1-4 is the center Paul’s thoughts and the New Testament.
Due to the...