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A ‘Chief Error’ of Protestant Soteriology: Sin in the Justified and Early Modern Catholic Theology

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The Catholic Reformation. Ecclesiology, Justification, Freedom, Sin, Grace & the Council of Trent. Editor: Eduardo J. Echeverria


Catholic theologians after Trent saw the Protestant teaching about the remnants of original sin in the justified as one of the ‘chief ’ errors of Protestant soteriology. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Martin Chemnitz, and many Protestant theologians believed that a view of concupiscence as sinful, strictly speaking, did away with any reliance on good works. This conviction also clarified the Christian’s dependence on the imputed righteousness of Christ. Catholic theologians condemned this position as detracting from the work of Christ who takes away the sins of the world. The rejection of this teaching—and the affirmation of Trent’s statement that original sin is taken away and that the justified at baptism is without stain or ‘immaculate’ before God—is essential for understanding Catholic opposition to Protestant soteriology. Two Spanish Dominican Thomists, Domingo de Soto and Bartolomé de Medina, rejected the Protestant teaching on imputation in part because of its connection with the view on the remnants of original sin in the justified. Adrian and Peter van Walenburch, brothers who served as auxiliary bishops of Cologne in the second half of the seventeenth century, argued that the Protestants of their time now agreed with the Catholic Church on a number of soteriological points. They also drew upon some of their post–Tridentine predecessors to offer a Catholic account of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Nonetheless, the issue of sin in the justified remained a point of serious controversy.

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Argomenti della rivista:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception