On Justification: dogma or heresy?

UPDATED with answers.

Each of the following assertions is either a dogma (an infallible teaching of the Magisterium), or a heresy (an idea directly contrary to a dogma). Which is which?

1. All human persons lost their innocence by the sin of Adam and thereby became children of wrath.

Dogma, taught by Trent, On Justification, Chapter I.

2. Even though Jesus died for all, not all receive the benefit of His death.

Dogma, taught by Trent, On Justification, Chapter III.
This dogma necessarily implies that not all human persons are saved and eventually end up in Heaven. So the contrary assertion, that “perhaps” all human persons eventually go to Heaven, or “perhaps” no human persons go to Hell, or that we may “reasonably hope” that all are saved, is necessarily abject heresy.

3. Since the promulgation of the Gospel, no one is able to receive spiritual adoption as children of God, except by the Sacrament of Baptism.

Heresy. This claim contradicts Trent, On Justification, Chapter IV., which teaches that everyone in the state of grace is an adopted child of God, whether they have entered the state of grace by formal Baptism with water, or by a baptism of desire. Therefore, baptized Christians are not the only human persons who are in the state of grace and not the only person who have been made children of God by spiritual adoption.

And yet this heresy is frequently stated and taught online by foolish Catholic bloggers and commentators. They teach without first having learned. They proclaim their own misunderstanding of the Gospel, and they do not bother to check and see what the Magisterium actually taught, nor do they accept correction.

4. The beginning of justification in adults occurs when a human person, of his own free will, turns away from sin and then seeks the assistance of the grace of God.

Heresy. The initial grace of justification is prevenient. Trent, On Justification, Chapter V. and Canon III. Prevenient grace occurs first, before the human free will has any possibility to cooperate or resist subsequent grace. Prevenient interior grace is necessary for each act, and for the beginning of faith, and the human will is unable to choose to resist or to obey. Prevenient grace makes our intellect truly able to understand transcendent truths, such as good and evil, and makes our will truly free and able to choose between good and evil. Even the most wicked human persons cannot reject or resist prevenient grace.

5. By justification, a human person is changed from unjust to just, and from an enemy to a friend, before God.

Dogma. Trent, On Justification, Chapter VII.

6. No one is able to be just, except those to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated.

Dogma. Trent, Justification, Chapter III.

7. True faith, by itself, makes one a living member of the Body of Christ.

Heresy, condemned by Trent, Justification, Chapter VII. “For faith, unless hope and charity are added to it, neither unites perfectly with Christ, nor makes [one] a living member of His body.”

8. A just person sins, at least venially, in every good work.

Heresy, condemned by Trent, Justification, Chapter XI and Canon XXV.

9. When a repentant sinner makes a good confession, he is always forgiven for all sins and for all temporal punishment due.

Heresy. Sometimes temporal punishment remains, after a good confession, which is expiated by acts of penance. Trent, Justification, Chapter XIV and Canon XXX.

10. When faith cooperates with good works, the justified person is justified to a greater extent.

Dogma. Trent, Justification, Chapter X.

11. All the works which are done before justification are at least venial sins before God. Only after justification can a person do works pleasing to God.

Heresy. Trent, Justification, Canon VI.
The truth is that human persons who are not in the state of grace can still cooperate with actual graces, and can perform works that are morally-permissible and virtuous (the acquired virtues), though not meritorious.

12. Justifying faith is nothing other than trust in divine mercy, which remits sins because of Christ.

Heresy. Trent, Justification, Canon XII.

13. The grace of justification is not granted, except to those who are predestined to life.

Heresy. Trent, Justification, Canon XVII.

14. Jesus himself continually infuses his virtue into those who are justified and this virtue always precedes and accompanies and follows their good works.

Dogma. Trent, Justification, Chapter XVI.

15. The justified person is able to persevere in the received justice only with the special help of God, and without that help, he is not able to persevere.

Dogma. Trent, Justification, Canon XXII.

16. Every human person who is justified is able, in all of life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial.

Heresy. Trent, Justification, Canon XXIII.

17. The justice we receive in Christ is conserved, but not increased, before God through good works, since those works are only the fruits and signs of received justification, and not of itself a cause of any increase.

Heresy. That justice is both conserved and increased by faith and good works; the good works are a cause of the increase.
Trent, Justification, Canon XXIV.

18. The good works of a justified person are the gifts of God and yet they are also the good merits of the one who is justified, and these good works, done in grace, merit an increase of grace.

Dogma. Trent, Justification, Canon XXXII

19. When grace is lost through mortal sin, the sinner always loses both the state of grace in their soul, and the three infused theological virtues: love, faith, and hope.

Heresy. Trent, Justification, Canon XXVIII.
In truth, actual mortal sin always causes the loss of the state of grace, and the loss of love and hope, but often faith is retained. Only actual mortal sins against faith itself can cause the loss of faith as well.

20. A person who is unrepentant from mortal sin, and who therefore has lost the state of grace and remains without the state of grace, nevertheless may possess true faith and should therefore still be considered a Christian, even though he lacks the infused theological virtue of love.

Dogma. Trent, Justification, Canon XXVIII

Correct answers:
Dogma: 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 18, 20
Heresy: 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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2 Responses to On Justification: dogma or heresy?

  1. John Platts says:

    Dogma: 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 18, 20
    Heresy: 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19

  2. Ron Conte says:

    @John Platts
    Correct on all counts!

Comments are closed.