More than years after it appeared, we still continue to hear that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was a “breakthrough” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church. The media loves to perpetuate this myth. In fact, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is a fraud. It was a sell-out by revisionist liberal Lutherans to Rome. The Vatican certainly knows this is not true. Liberal Lutherans and those who support them keep repeating it, in spite of the fact that it is simply not true. Here are resources to help you counter this lie and this betrayal of the Gospel.
When, or if, you hear any Lutheran, or Roman Catholic, claim that the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church have reconciled their differences on the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone this is simply untrue. It is a lie. A complete and total fabrication.
Rome is not to be faulted in any of this. The Vatican has consistently maintained and upheld the historic position of the Roman Church and did not change it. Mainline liberal Lutherans, however, compromised the key doctrine of the Scriptures and the very heart of the Lutheran Confessions. When I served as Assistant to the President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, at the time this statement came out in 2000, we prepared an extensive set of documents illustrating precisely why the JDDJ is a fraud and a betrayal of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. You might want to save this post on your computer somewhere for future reference.
When you hear or read someone asserting that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was a “breakthrough” feel free to share this material with them. We must continue to correct this erroneous view of the JDDJ.
Was Trent set aside by the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification?
No, quite the contrary. The Vatican was very careful to make it clear that it has not set aside the Council of Trent and that Trent still remains authoritative, binding dogma for the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christianity Unity, the individual responsible in large part for Rome’s involvement in the Joint Declaration, went out of his way to clarify this point in a press conference held when the JDDJ was signed. Here is what he had to say:
“Asked whether there was anything in the official common statement contrary to the Council of Trent, Cardinal Cassidy said: ‘Absolutely not, otherwise how could we do it? We cannot do something contrary to an ecumenical council. There’s nothing there that the Council of Trent condemns” (Ecumenical News International, 11/1/99).
With this statement by Cardinal Cassidy in mind, one is led to wonder how a document that is alleged to be a faithful Lutheran statement of justification contains nothing that Trent condemned.
Canon IX: If anyone says that the ungodly is justified by faith alone in such a way that he understands that nothing else is required which cooperates toward obtaining the grace of justification . . . let him be condemned.
Canon XII: If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than trust in divine mercy, which remits sin for Christ’s sake, or that it is this trust alone by which we are justified, let him be condemned.
Canon XIV: If anyone says that a man is absolved and justified because . . . he confidently believes that he is absolved and justified . . . and that through this faith alone absolution and justification is effected, let him be condemned.
Note: These canons clearly indicate that something more than trust in Christ is necessary for salvation