The Council of Trent

Council of Trent by Bonar History


CANON 9:  “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.” 

This idea still holds in Roman Catholic theology. The Council of Trent is still upheld by Rome.

This goes against the clear word of Scripture.

Move closer to Rome? 

No thanks.



Thanks to Bonar-History and flickr for the photo.

20 Responses

  1. Thanks Steve: this is what we have at, today. Thanks, Myrtle.

    Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article I

    Here we must confess, as Paul says in Romans 5:12, that sin originated from one man, Adam. By his disobedience, all people were made sinners and became subject to death and the devil. This is called original or the chief sin. (1)

    This hereditary sin is such a deep corruption of nature that no reason can understand it. Rather, it must be believed from the revelation of Scripture. Therefore, it is nothing but error and blindness that the scholastic doctors have taught in regard to this article:

    Since Adam’s fall the natural powers of human beings have remained whole and uncorrupted, and by nature people have a right reason and good will, as the philosophers teach.

    A person has a free will to do good and not to do evil, and, on the other hand, to not do good and do evil.

    By natural and human powers a person can observe and keep all God’s commands. (3-6)

    These and many similar ideas have arise from lack of understanding and ignorance, both about sin and about Christ, our Savior. They are truly heathen teachings that we cannot endure. For is should teaching were true, then Christ has died in vain.

  2. “Since Adam’s fall the natural powers of human beings have remained whole and uncorrupted, and by nature people have a right reason and good will, as the philosophers teach”.

    Right reason and good will… Philosophers are quick to ascribe it, theologians are often eager to follow on their heels, even though this is the very venom which defines our full corruption… what WE see and define as good. The awfulness of our ‘own’ righteousness.

    Here is sourced all the vile heresy which leavens and murders the Gospel – that we can be made good by what yet resides with us, trampling underfoot what comes only in His imputed righteousness.

    Luther, ever the keen surgeon here, knew why the matter of faith alone was the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls – any margin left here for the miserable reasoning of Eve and Adam at the tree leaves us bare of hope, facing nothing but the unchanging demand of the law, forever naked and exiled.
    God alone justifies each of us, wicked as we are, by the gift of unmerited mercy and redemption in Christ alone.

  3. Thanks Brigitte.

    Thanks, Howard.

    Yes, we truly are bound to sin. “…all things are consigned to sin.”

    That means everything. And that means us. We need a Savior. We could no more work our way to righteousness, than a pig could fly across the Grand Canyon.

    Cozy up to Rome? (as some suggest) Not a chance when this vital doctrine places people’s very souls in jeopardy.

  4. Howard and Steve, if you have time, what do you think of this lecture:

    Recently the RC Bishop of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, spoke at our Edmonton Seminary on Luther and inter-faith dialogue. I thought it was very conciliatory. Dr. Maxfield stepped in last minute to respond to him as Dr. Kraemer was terminally ill. Very enjoyable. It starts at 16 min.

    Curious as to your thoughts.

    • Thanks for the link, Brigitte.

      I haven’t had time to hear the whole talk by Bishop Bolen (I got to about the 40 minute mark), but I will try and finish it tomorrow.

  5. If they ever remove their anathema on me, then I will consider God to have removed His anathema on them.

  6. J.K., you are starting to sound like Luther!

  7. Brigitte,

    I was going to reserve judgement until after I heard Roman Catholic Bishop Bolen’s complete talk, but (it’s 1:45 am)and I’ve decided not to. I’ve heard enough.

    Bishop Bolen (in the short time I watched) alluded to God’s building the Church on the rock that is Peter, maybe 2 or 3 times.

    The Catholic Church believes IT ALONE is the TRUE CHURCH. We believe that the Church is built upon Peter’s confession of faith, and not the man (first pope – so they believe).

    He then alludes to the “gifts” of those that the Catholics can learn from and admire, who are “outside” the Church (the Wesley’s, Luther, etc.).

    The Catholic Church believes that it is the sole repository of ALL the grace that Jesus gives to His Church.(those funny shaped hats (miters) are shaped that way to funnel the grace from God, into the man). And that they alone mediate that grace through the office of the keys, from Pope, to Cardinals and Bishops to priests and then finally down to little ol’ you and me.

    Bishop Bolen seems like a very genteel, gracious man…but if one listens to the words and ignores the demeanor, one will see that he and his church are pushing their view that they are the ONLY TRUE CHURCH, and that all others are just, as one fairly recent communication from the Catholic Church said, just “ecclesiastical organizations”.

    The devil didn’t just come out and say to Eve that ‘God was a bad guy’. He was sly and tricked Eve by planting ‘doubt’ (“didn’t God say…?”)

    Moving closer to Rome has some good aspects, BUT…the trouble comes when we get to core of our beliefs and the realization that someone’s viewpoint on these crucial matters will have to prevail.

    We have One Mediator, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is through Him alone that we are made clean, and no organization or church on earth will EVER take His place.

    Unity, yes…but never at the expense of the gospel.

  8. Thanks for the link, Brigitte.
    Back in the 90’s, I had the privilege of attending the CURE debate in Pasadena on this, which you can still get hold of:
    I also was honored to attend a two-part lecture around a year later in Cambridge, England, by the late Dr Robert Preus:
    Much of the key material in these papers and debates is also covered well in the book, “Roman Catholicism – Evangelical Protestants analyze what divides and unites us:
    Luther’s stand against Rome, especially on matters of faith and salvation, are, sadly, just as key today to the whole issue as they have always been.

    Hope that helps.

  9. The thing about Luther was he got an understanding of truth back to the “bullseye”. The Gospel message of Jesus Christ. He got back to a theology of the cross as compared to a theology of ???? (place your word here). But it was theology based upon greed and power inside the church.

    Related and new post here —>

  10. Thank you both Steve and Howard. I will look at your links as soon as I can, Howard.

    Still, I am glad for the dialogue. The vilification of Luther hurts people I know, people who have gone from denomination to denomination and now don’t go at all, but “be damned” they will not be Lutheran; Luther is the devil, so it has been presented to them.

  11. Thanks, Jon. Good observations.

    Well, a theology of ‘glory’, and or ‘self-justification’ would work pretty well in that spot.

    I’ll check out your link very shortly.

  12. Brigitte,

    You’re right, it doesn’t cost anything to talk and listen.

    Luther was far from perfect and said some very troubling things, for sure, but he also said some quite wonderful things, for which we and millions of others are quite thankful.

    I think it’s great that many in Rome want to make nice concerning Luther. But we ought be wary of their ulterior motives, for their desire is to have one, visable church on earth, headed by the Pope.

    I know and like many Catholics and I believe a great many to be in the one true Church. But that Church is invisable, and headed up by Christ Himself.

    May God bless our Catholic brothers and sisters, and may he move Rome away from it’s semi-Pelagian theology and it’s view that no one can be assured of salvation outside of the Roman umbrella.

  13. Brigitte, As a ‘guest’ here, I understand there’s often a general hostility to Luther, but it’s usually because people really haven’t read of understood him….
    It’s much easier when the REAL context becomes clear:
    “For nearly half a century, the church was split into two or three obedience’s that ex-communicated one another, so that every catholic lived under ex-communication by one pope or another and in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which one had right on his side. The church no longer offered certainty of salvation. She had become questionable in her whole objective form. The true church, the true pledge of salvation HAD TO BE SOUGHT OUTSIDE the institution.

    It is against this back-drop of a profoundly shaken ecclesiastical consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the church ultimately came to experience the church not as the guarantor but as the adversary of salvation”.

    Historical assessment of the reason for the reformation by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
    (now Pope Benedict XVI!).

    That’s a good place to start.

  14. Hi Brigitte, Historically speaking only right now. Luther is responsible for almost ALL non-catholic denominations. A catholic would call then protestant denominations. This would include presbyterian, reformed, methodist, Lutheran, etc.

    The waves of his 95 theses are the root of all protestant denominatins. So wesleyan, methodist, Calvinist, Presbyterian you owe a lot to luther.

    You can disagree with some of the specifics of Lutherans on items (I know I do)… but overall Luther was about being cristocentric (gospel-centric) in how he spoke to other sinners. Luther was like a putbull with his eye on a piece of meat. His eye never left the cross in his interpretation of scripture… and he had good reasons for doing this that hold up well under scripture.

    Even if you agree or disagree with some of the specifics of Lutheranism I would say that other denominations can learn a LOT in getting back to Luther “reformed” roots.

    For more info on Luther look at this link.

    All denominations owe a LOT to Luther.

  15. Thank you Howard. That’s a good summary of the background. I need this right now because I will speak with Ted Byfield, editor of The Christian History Project, soon, whose treatment of Luther in the new Volume bothers me. (See current blogpost) I would really like to go through it online and get some help from friends, but he offered to go through the chapter with me line by line and hear my objections. Of course, I am underqualified, but it’s a start.

    Centrality of the Gosepl. You have me wrong. I am Lutheran and have summarized the preface to the Commentary on the Letter to the Galatians myself–precious!!!

    Though, I would say that Luther can’t be made responsible for the other denominations. The man is made responsible for so many things. They have separated themselves from Lutheran doctrine of their own volition.

  16. Thanks Brigitte for the clarification. My point on Luther starting all protestant defintions is really a point where Luther started the tsunami…. Calvin and others just rode different waves (from Luthers tsunami) to the shore.

    But the other protestant denominations are clearly a an output of the reformation. For example one calvinistic denomination calls themselves CRC (Christian Reformed Church) and prides themselves on being “reformed”. Many calvinists quote Luther as supporting their theology and in some aspects he does.

    However, it does not mean other denominations maintain the same “core” as Luther. This “Luther core” is what I DELIGHT IN EVERY DAY!!!!!

  17. Hubert Jedin offers some context to the debates at Trent. It can not be straightforwardly assumed that the sense with which you invest these words is the one condemned by the Council. One thing that went into Canon 9 is the view that *repentance* (with faith) is prior to justification…

    Hope was another “act” prior to justification along with faith…

    Of course, though, most Tridentine Fathers believed that any act that prepared the way for justification was preceded by God’s operative grace!

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