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The doctrine of justification in Luther and the council of Trent

Kirton, Richard A. (1973) The doctrine of justification in Luther and the council of Trent. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The debate between Luther and the Council of Trent arose in part out of the theologies of Late Scholasticism. The antipelagian interpretation of the doctrine, unchallenged in the West from the time of St. Augustine was vitiated by the nominalist experiment by William of Ockham and his more moderate successors, Biel, Gerson and Geiler. Their emphasis on the importance and freedom of man could also he found in humanism and in mysticism. The augustinian school was still important and Staupitz stressed the covenantal status of the Christ event. Luther's own, interpretation of the doctrine went even further than St. Augustine in emphasising the divine role. The whole man without Christ is a sinner; the whole man with Christ is totally righteous, through the righteousness of God imputed to him by God through faith. Only such a justified man is able to perform good works. The Council of Trent, not uninfluenced by nominalism, replied by giving an important role to man in his justification, even admitting the possibility of a de congruo claim on justification through good works. The council still left a major place for God. The insights of modern theology and psychology provide us with material for a critique. Luther was surely right in his analysis of the role of faith and the relationship with God that it presupposes. Nonetheless both parties failed fully to appreciate the communal and eschatologlcal dimensions to the doctrine.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1973
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:33

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