It may seem odd to many Christians that in looking at the topic of Justification that this essay will not be going right to the Epistles to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, etc. Instead, the first place to be examined will be the Gospels and what they have to say. The idea for this kind of approach to justification came from listening to a debate on Justification between a Catholic evangelist and a Reformed Protestant apologist. In the debate, the Catholic evangelist stated (in essence) that "it is typical of Protestants not to look to the words of Our Lord and Saviour for guidance on these matters." I found myself fixating on that statement and as the debate progressed, noticed that indeed this is true: the words of Our Lord were never (or at least almost never) uttered by Protestants on the subject of Justification. As one who tended to use the Gospels primarily when quoting the Scriptures anyway, the following question came to mind: was the one who would judge the world and separate the sheep from the goats somehow not competent to be trusted on this subject??? To listen to the debate and the trenchant criticisms of the aforementioned Catholic evangelist, it seems that this was the case.
For the Catholic evangelist had claimed that the words of Our Lord were "embarrassing" for Protestant systematic theology. And the responses of his opponent was only confirming this assessment by the several references made to the "clear passages of Romans and Galatians". It was an implicit assertion that the Gospels did not have "clear passages" in them that dealt with the question that is central to all Christian theology. After that debate, a much more conscious application of the Gospel-predominent methodology to the topic of Justification in the Gospels produced some interesting insights. Not wanting to stop there, the other non-Pauline writings were looked at along with St. Paul's epistles. A clear picture was emerging and it was not one that put Protestant systematic theology in a good light.
Anyone involved in apologetics for some degree of time will notice that with virtually every subject of dispute, Protestants of all stripes have a seeming unwillingness to address the literal words of Our Lord in the Gospels. Instead they prefer to defer to his servant Paul the Apostle and predominently to the Romans and to Galatians epistles. In this essay, we will look at all of the NT authors views on this topic but first and foremost the words of Our Lord and Saviour who in several spots of the Gospels noted whose position is the one of primacy:
The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord.(Matt. 10:24)
The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master. (Luke 6:40)
Amen, amen I say to you: The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him. (John 13:16)Logically then, if we take Our Lord's words literally, we should not be using Paul's words to interpret the words of Our Lord. Instead we should be using Our Lord's words from which we interpret Paul, James, Peter, Johm's epistles, Jude, the Old Testament, etc. The following essay examines the topic of Justification from a Biblical perspective and will be focusing first and foremost on the words of Our Lord on how we are to be saved. Subsequent sections will address what the other NT writers said on the matter; however, they are all secondary to the Gospels and with a very good reason. For indeed if anyone should know the answers to what is required for Justification, it seems that God Incarnate would know best. Why then do Protestants never listen to what Our Lord and Saviour (and the one who will be their Judge) has to say on these matters??? As it will be demonstrated in part one of this essay, the reason is quite obvious.
Go to Next Section of "Justification" Essay
Return to Index Page of "Justification" Essay
Return to Matt's Salvation Page
Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page