Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Nature Of Christian Justification

“The mystery of the original state leads us on to the mystery of the state of grace characteristic of Christianity. But for that very reason Christian justification must be considered in terms of its opposition of the mystery of sin. However, the sin that Christian justification is meant to destroy cannot be regarded simply according to its natural side, as the derangement of the natural order. Sin must here be regarded according to the mysterious character it possesses in its opposition to the supernatural order of grace, particularly the grace of the original state. In this connection the state of sin is more than a disorder of the will. It is a complete estrangement and separation of man from God as his supernatural end, and is met with on God’s part not by a simple displeasure—involving disfavor in the moral sense—but by a forcible ejection from the state of the children of God, a stripping away of the supernatural raiment of grace. To join together again the severed strands of the supernatural bond with God, no mere change of the direction of man’s will can suffice. If man is to be reunited to God as his Father, God Himself must raise him up again to His side, and through the Holy Spirit must pour forth into man’s heart a filial love for Himself. If the sinner is to be freed from God’s disfavor, it will not at all suffice for God to cover up the sinful deed with the cloak of forgetfulness, and simply to remit the guilt in response to the sinner’s repentance. To forgive the sin fully, God must again confer on man that favor and grace which He had bestowed on him before he sinned. God must again draw man up to His bosom as His child, regenerate him to new divine life, and again clothe him with the garment of His children, the splendor of His own nature and glory. Only thus can justification completely and perfectly exterminate the sin as it exists concretely in its mysterious character. Therefore justification itself, which does away with so mysterious an evil, must be recognized as a supernatural mystery. Accordingly the mystery of sin, as also the mystery of original justice, looks to justification as a third mystery, which destroys the first and restores the second.”

-Matthias Scheeben in The Mysteries of Christianity.

No comments: