Justification by faith

One website I have enjoyed reading from time to time is the "United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy" blog which, as the name suggests, includes posts from United Methodist thinkers commenting on the doctrines of United Methodism and writings of John Wesley as well as their roots in the broader, ecumenical, orthodox Christian faith.  This group is working toward the much needed doctrinal renewal of our denomination and of the whole church.

The latest post examines the classic evangelical and reformed doctrine of Justification by Faith.
This is a great post reminding us of the beauty and simplicity of living by a great gift of grace.
This doctrine, as Tom Oden has shown (see here) also has deep roots in the faith of the apostolic and early church fathers, and is not merely a Protestant innovation (though the Reformers certainly had reasons for stressing it heavily by comparison to previous generations of church leaders).

One of the thoughts I've had re-reading our doctrinal statements and the comments is re-thinking the concept of "merit."  The church talks about our trusting in Christ and his merit rather than our own.  I suppose we have tended to think of merit as a way of talking about righteousness and good deeds; perhaps it makes sense really to think of it in broader terms: that Christ is the true man, who lives the truly authentic human life, who perfectly embodies God's kingdom in perfect faithfulness to his Father, even though (in a fallen and rebellious world) such fidelity necessarily led him into conflict with the powers of this world and to the cross.

I'm still pondering this, but there seems to be more to 'merit' than simply a medieval way of talking about the moral value of specific good deeds, but as a way of talking about the perfectly kingdom-embodying life of Christ as a man on earth.  In his life the will of the Father was indeed done "on earth as in heaven."

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