May 21, 2009

Braaten on Justification & Birth

Under the chapter heading "The Soteriological Place of Justification," Carl E. Braaten, writes:

"Tillich was aware that if justification by grace through faith is the heart of the Christian experience of salvation, the question is bound to arise: How does one get such a faith? How is it possible to attain faith, if there is nothing good enough within human beings to generate or motivate it? If the will lies in radical bondage to sin, death, and the power of the devil, whence the power of the will to believe? Tillich works out his answer by dealing with the relations between regeneration, justification, and sanctification. Here Tillich is walking carefully through a mine field strewn with many booby traps. We have argued for placing the emphasis on the priority of justification in the process of salvation, but Tillich surprisingly places regeneration before justification, and thus moves in the direction of the pietists who stressed the new birth, the need to be born again. Tillich sees the danger lying on one extreme or the other, and so he tries to mediate between the two, achieving a synthesis of what is supposedly true in each of them.

The Reformers were right in putting justification ahead of regeneration to prevent any notion that one's subjective state of being born again is the causal ground of being accepted by God. Otherwise, there is no escaping the anxious questioning of the soul. Have I really been born again? If there is any doubt about this, there is doubt about the good news of God's acceptance of me, in spite of my doubt and osciallating subjective feelings. For the sake of the "in spirt of" character of justification, the radical objectivity of justification as the originating source of God's gracious acceptance of me should never be compromised."
(48, 49)

Justification: the article by which the church stands or falls
By Carl E. Braaten
Published by Fortress Press, 1990

This is simply more evidence that the first "Reformers" and leading spokemen for historic Calvinism all put justification before regeneration and sanctification, contrary to the Romanist view.

See here

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