PDF Reference Luther AO1 handout

Here is an example about Luther and his understanding of Justification by Faith (Theme 3A). There are three accounts from three resources. Some of the material overlaps. Read the three extracts and then click on each to see how the final summary has been arrived at.

PDF Reference Luther AO1 handout

Here are three more resources - this time about the Council of Trent (Theme 3A). Try to make a summary yourself. Compare with others in the class to see how you have differed and discuss why that is and whether the differences are important.

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  • 1. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) was brought about by the continuing success of the Protestant Movement. There needed to be a reply to Luther and in particular his teaching on justification. There were delays in setting up the Council. This was mostly due to the war between Charles V and Francis I. Eventually it met in 1545 and then again in 1551 and 1562. The Council affirmed that a person is inwardly justified by sanctifying grace and thus capable of good works only after his cooperation with divine assistance. They argued that there had to be something within individuals which could allow God to justify them. In this same session, the Protestant position on the number of sacraments was rejected, and the Council decreed there were seven conferring grace. Although the Council did not provide a way of reconciling with Protestantism, it did provide the foundation for a revitalization of Catholicism.
    (Adapted from The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church edited by J. Douglas)

    2. In the General Council of Trent the Catholic Church stated in canon XII that "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified...let him be accursed".
    Canon XIV on justification stated that "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema (excommunicated)."
    Such Canons as these illustrated that the Council could find no way to reconcile Protestantism with Catholicism. "Faith alone" is foundational to Protestantism, and distinguishes it from other Christian denominations. However, Luther meant that though the Christian life began through faith and faith alone, good works followed justification but did not cause that justification in the first place.

    3. After a number of abortive attempts, the Council of Trent was convened in 1542 by Pope Paul III. The choice of venue meant that it was within the territories of the German Emperor but near enough to Rome to ensure papal control of the Council. The Council of Trent met in three phases: 1545-47, 1551-52, 1562-63. The work of the council was twofold – the definition of Roman Catholic doctrine in opposition to Protestantism and the introduction of disciplinary reforms within the Roman Catholic Church. There was a wide range of definitions of doctrine including Scripture and tradition, original sin, justification, the sacraments and purgatory.
    In 1564 Pope Pius IV confirmed all the decrees of the council. He also published in that year a “Profession of Tridentine Faith”. This summarised many of the anti-Protestant decisions and Protestant converts to Rome were required to give assent to it. Trent dominated the Roman Catholic Church for about 400 years.
PDF Reference Luther AO1 handout

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