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 The Principles of Theology - Article 11

by W.H.Griffith Thomas



Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

De Hominis Justificatione.
Tantum propter meritum Domini ac Servatoris nostri Jesu Christi per fidem, non propter opera et merita nostra, justi coram Deo reputamur. Quare sola fide nos justificari, doctrina est saluberrima ac consolationis plenissima, ut in Homilia de Justificatione hominis fusius explicatur.


Important Equivalents

Only for the merit = Tantum propter meritum
By faith = per fidem
And not for our own works = non propter opera nostra
Or deservings = et merita
By faith only = sola fide
Of Justification = de Justificatione hominis

In the Forty-two Articles of 1553 this Article was as follows:


Justification by only faith in Jesus Christ in that sense, as it is declared in the Homily of Justification, is a most certain and wholesome doctrine for Christian men.


Justificatio ex sola fide Jesu Christi eo sensu quo in Homelia de Justificatione explicatur, est certissima et saluberrima Christianorum doctrina.


But in 1563 the Article received its present form, and the alteration was a great advantage and improvement, for in 1553 it was necessary to study the Homily in order to learn what the Church of England meant by “Justification by faith only,” while now we have a clear definition of the doctrine in the Article itself, the Homily being still referred to as providing a fuller expression of the same truth. It has sometimes been said that Archbishop Parker favoured mediæval views on Justification, but his devotion to Cranmer is a sufficient disproof of this, and, further, it is known that the Eleventh Article was drawn from the Wurtemberg Confession. The Augsburg Confession having defined the Evangelical faith, its teaching on Justification had been condemned by the Council of Trent in 1546-1547, and when the Council reassembled in 1551 the Protestant Princes presented Confessions of Faith reaffirming those points which the Council had condemned. The Wurtemberg Confession was one of these documents, and it is therefore not unnatural that when our Articles were revised in 1563 they were thus definitely and purposely brought into clearer verbal agreement with this Confession, and at the same time shown to be in more thorough conflict with Rome than before.

The question of Justification was the theological and spiritual foundation of the Reformation Movement; indeed, it lies at the very foundation of all Christian life and service, for only when this is settled can there be any peace, power, and progress. The prominence given to it at the Reformation is a striking testimony to its importance as the primary question of the ages: “How should man be just with God?” This enquiry, found as far back as the Book of Job, is repeated throughout the history of the Jews, expressed in heathen sacrifices, and implied in all Oriental religions. The Bible alone gives the answer, and it was this beyond all else that led to the definite and constant emphasis on the Bible as the Rule of Faith at the time of the Reformation. Indeed, it may be said that the whole movement of the sixteenth century was bound up with the two great principles of the sufficiency and supremacy of the Bible, and Justification by Faith in the completeness and finality of our Lord’s work on the Cross. The first hint on the latter subject comes in Genesis 15:6; a little more light is afforded in Psalm 32; still more in Habakkuk 2:4; while in Acts 13:38, 39; Galatians 3; Romans 3 and 4, we have the full revelation of God’s answer to man’s enquiry.


>> Part 1. The Meaning of Justification






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The Principles of Theology

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>> Griffith-Thomas biography


Article 11

>> Introduction

>> The meaning of Justification

>> The foundation of Justification

>> The Means of Justification


Content of The Principles

>> Index

>> Preface by J I Packer

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Trinity

>> 2 - Christ

>> 3 - Descent into Hell

>> 4 - Resurrection

>> 5 - Holy Spirit

>> 6 - Holy Scripture

>> 7 - The Old Testament

>> 8 - The Three Creeds

>> 9 - Of Original or Birth Sin

>> 10 - Of Free Will

>> 11 - Of the Justifcation of Man




>> Ussher : A Body of Divinity

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