This assignment was the culmination of one of our Fall (1 seminary semester) classes. I did not edit it from the actual assignment I turned in.
Justification & Justice
Justification is what God does for us through Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection. We can speak of what justification means to the world in multiple ways, including the common phrases of “forgiveness of sins” and “reconciliation of sinners to God” as well as creating a new reality where humanity is restored to right relationship with God and other humans. These descriptions of what happened on the cross are all part of restoring life in the midst of death and brokenness. This work of God, or justification, is God’s free gift to all humans. We call this universal free gift grace.
We are justified by grace alone through faith alone. Faith is our response to God’s grace, and how we individually participate in this universal grace. Faith, as trust in God’s promises of Jesus Christ, is also the link between justification and justice. Faith becomes active in love. When we act in love—based on that trust—we participate in God’s struggle to restore life. That is, our living out of our faith is our participation in justice.
Scripture proclaims the gift of grace and our faith response of love. Paul says in Romans 4.25 that Christ has been “handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” Ephesians 2.8 proclaims “ For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” And in Galatians 5.6b we hear “the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” In Micah 6:8 we also see God’s intention of humans living out justice in actions of love: “He has told you o mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? “
God’s word creates a new reality, and our faith gives us a vision of this new reality. When we act differently because of being freed by God’s love to truly love others, seeing them also as individuals Christ died for, we are living fully what God created us to be. Thus justification restored humanity to live in justice as we live lives in right relationship to God and others.
All Bible references are from New Revised Standard Version
Closely read the following readings:
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The Lutheran World Federation and The Roman Catholic Church. English-Language Edition. Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans, 1999, pp. 5-47 (43 pages)
Altmann, W. Luther and Liberation, 13-55 (43 pages)
Braaten, C. E. Justification By Faith, 81-99 (19 pages)
Lull, T. ed. Luther, “The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ, and the Brotherhood” (1591), pp. 242-266; “Freedom of a Christian” (1529), 585-629 (45 pages)
Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, Vol. VII, Justification By Faith, The Consensus Statement, 58-74 (17 pages)
Persaud, W. D., “The Article of Justification and the Theology of Liberation,” Currents, 1989, 361-371 (11 pages)
Also read/consulted these readings:
Luther’s Works, Vol. 27, Lectures on Galatians (1519), 381-394 (14 pages)
Luther’s Works, Vol. 31, “Two Kinds of Righteousness,” 293-306, in Lull, T. ed. Luther, 149-165 (17 pages)