The dilemma of Justification
When I was still evangelical, my evangelical mentor told me the follwoing analogy. We are all sinners and stand before judgment of God. Then God offers the only solution – He sent His Son down and if we believe in Him, He will bear the burden of our sins and sets us free. Only after some study I realized that this analogy is tailored to fit Protestant’s concept of Justification. How does God justify us to enter heaven? Protestant’s answer is by faith (in Christ) alone – it is one time event in our life. The courtroom analogy with God as the Judge and we are as sinners (or criminals) goes well with this faith alone Justification. We do not need purgatory and indulgences as Christ already paid the penalty of our sins on the cross once we accept Him as our personal Lord and Saviour. When I had the chance to study Catholic’s view on Justification I came to know that in Catholicism Justification is a process. It starts at our conversion to Christ and ends at the time we enter heaven. The striking difference is in Catholicism we are made righteous through Justification while Protestants would say we are declared righteous. The best analogy to describe Catholic Justification is Family analogy – God is the Father and we are His (adopted) children. We become members of God’s family through our faith in Chris – this faith is a free gift from God. This Family analogy allows us to understand why there are indulgences – God our Father will discipline us, His children, for our own good whenever we misbehave. The concept of being made righteous through Justification also explains why we need purgatory if we die with unrepented venial sins – we must be purified and cleansed through purgatory. Such purification is not required in Protestant’s Justification because our sins will be covered by Christ righteousness – hence the concept of imputed righteousness (of Christ) in Protestant’s Justification. Catholics, on the other hand, would say through Justification the righteousness of God, through Christ, is infused by the Holy Spirit is us and it becomes inherent part of us, i.e. we become righteous.