Official Lutheran Document vs. Trent, Part 1

Sigrid Undset is said to have defended her conversion from Lutheranism to Catholicism simply by translating Luther for her fellow citizens. By reading what Luther actually had to say, some were amply convinced that she made the right move.

I have been bringing forward words from Luther. Not isolated ones. Key ones. Pivotal ones. Ones that exhibit the very structure of his view.

But someone will object: Luther is not ‘the authority’. Rather, insofar as there is any authority outside of Scripture, the ‘reference point’ for a Lutheran is the Book of Concord. Some Lutherans demand adherence to all the Book of Concord. Some not. With regard to the former, I will present some very clear teachings from the Solid Declaration. These are in contrast to Trent.

I begin today:

Lutheran Solid Declaration COUNCIL OF TRENT
“It is correct to say that in this life believers who have become righteous through faith in Christ have first of all the righteousness of faith that is reckoned to them and then thereafter the righteousness of new obedience or good works that are begun in them. But these two kinds of righteousness dare not be mixed with each other or simultaneously introduced into the article on justification by faith before God. For because this righteousness that is begun in us­—this renewal—is imperfect and impure in this life because of our flesh, a person cannot use it in any way to stand before God’s judgment throne. Instead, only the righteousness of the obedience, suffering, and death of Christ, which is reckoned to faith, can stand before God’s tribunal.” III:32


“The only function or characteristic of faith remains that it alone and absolutely nothing else is the means or instrument by and through which God’s grace and the merit of Christ promised in the gospel are received, laid hold of, accepted, applied to us, and appropriated. Love and all other virtues or works must be excluded from the functions and characteristics of this application and appropriation of the promise.” III:38


“Neither renewal, sanctification, virtues, nor good works are to be viewed or presented either as the form or as a part or as a cause of justification.” III:39


If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only brushed over or not imputed; let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven. TRENT, SESSION V, CANON 5.

Thus, not only are we considered just, but we are truly called just and are just, each one receiving within himself his own justice…. Trent Session VI, chap. 7.


Therefore, we must believe that nothing further is wanting to the justified for them to be regarded as having entirely fulfilled the divine law in their present condition by the works they have done in the sight of God. Trent VI, chap. 16.


If anyone says that men are justified without the justice of Christ, by which he merited [justification] for us, or that they are formally just by that very justice: let him be anathema. Trent VI, canon 10


If anyone says that men are justified either by the imputation of the justice of Christ alone or by the remission of sins alone, to the exclusion of grace and charity which are poured forth through the Holy Spirit into their hearts and which inhere in them, or even that the grace by which we are justified is only the favor of God, let him be anathema. Trent VI, canon 11.