Thoughts on Justification, ppart 1
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Thoughts on Justification, art 1 

How we are “justified” in the eyes of God is an important question in Christian theology and history. Some have argued that we are justified by the works we do, and others argue that faith is central to being justified. What is justification?
The notion of justification is largely a product of the Protestant Reformation. Catholic doctrine had held that Baptism and a life of good works would result in salvation of the human soul. But Protestant reformers argued that people invariably falls into sin and therefore cannot be “justified” on the basis of works. Indeed, Paul wrote, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Knowing that we all have a tendency to sin, how can a person be confident of justification while others are (presumably) not?
I question the notion that God selectively chooses among those who do or do not deserve salvation. I favor the outlook of John 12:32, which describes Jesus saying, “When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” I think God either cares about everything God has created, or God doesn’t care about Creation. Why would God create and then choose to be concerned about only a part of that Creation?
I suspect that the human tendency to separate those who are justified from those who are not is grounded in the scapegoating process, in which we gain a much-wanted sense of self-esteem by elevating ourselves at the expense of others. Denigrating others is part of a process that, ultimately, results in their victimization, and therefore I have suggested in previous essays that scapegoating is “the sin of the world” to which John the Baptist referred (John 1:29).

Next week, I will reflect on the Protestant theory of “justification by faith.” 

Go on to: Essay: Are We Justified by Faith?
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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