Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl
I personally don't believe that it does, unless they would have truly repented from their actions. Christianity preaches the forgiveness of sin, but to obtain it you must repent. The Pope and the nobles were well aware that their actions were set in the context of secular gain, rather than a religious cause. The papacy wanted control over the Holy Lands, and the nobles wanted the riches that would come from that. Their religious authority for doing this rested solely with the Catholic doctrine that the pope carried authority equal to God's on earth: a doctrine not based in scripture. For those that truly believed in the Church at that time, they would not know if their actions ran contradictory to scripture, because the sole authority was the Pope and scripture was kept from them. As for the vast majority of crusaders, uneducated peasants and serfs who had never been more than ten miles for the place of their birth, the Church represented a secular, rather than religious authority, and their sole experience with religion was sitting in a stone building while a priest behind a choir screen sang the mass in latin (a language they couldn't understand) and all they could do was listen.
Regardless, and before I get into explaining Justification by Faith Alone, there is something I have been forgetting in examining your earlier comments. I, as a Lutheran, believe in the doctrine of iustification solo fide
, but the Crusaders, as Catholics, and Hitler, who was baptised Catholic and grew up in Catholic Austria, as well has a little more than half of Germany, did not. Catholicism preaches salvation on the basis of both faith and works. I did not remember this at the time I wrote my first response, because I was concerned with defending my own doctrine. Forgive me. That was prideful. One of the promises the pope made to the crusaders is that their actions (their works) would earn them salvation. They were meant not to see their actions as sinful deeds, but rather holy ones that would earn them a place in paradise. As I see it, it doesn't really matter whether it is a doctrine of faith or faith and works, both can be manipulated to evil ends and a believer must therefore be discerning.
The point of Jesus death on the Calvary Cross, according to Christianity, was the sealing of a New Covenant. Christian theology holds that the Abrahamic and Sinai covenants were spiritual preparation revealed to man by God for this newest covenant to be sealed by the Messiah. For Christians, the evidence that these covenants were inadequate to stand alone is that they were frequently abrogated by the people. To my mind, this was foretold by the passage from the book of Jeremiah:
31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD ,
"when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,"
declares the LORD .
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time," declares the LORD .
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
(Jeremiah 31: 31-33)
The laws of the former covenants were like training wheels for the righteousness that would earn a man a place in paradise, but many became smug and assured of their salvation, because these covenants had been revealed unto them. This is explained in Paul’s letter to the Romans (one of the most important books, to my mind, in the New Testament for explaining the New Covenant):
17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth– 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.
This, for Christians, is a key achievement of the New Covenant, sealed by the death of Jesus Christ: that the law lies in the hearts of all mankind and it is faith in its principles, not the outward actions of the follower, which may be feigned, that is the prerequisite of obtaining salvation through it. From that faith springs good works.
In Romans 7, St. Paul says, "The law is spiritual." What does that mean? If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart. But no one can give such a heart except the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart.
- Martin Luther
I could explain this further, but I think the book of Romans does so better than I, so I’ll single out some quotations for you to read, if you wish.
12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
This is the basis of Luther’s admonition that I quoted earlier: "Our faith in Christ does not free us from works but from false opinions concerning works... I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God."
1What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. [the training wheels I mentioned]
3What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? 4Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak
and prevail when you judge.”
5But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8Why not say–as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say–“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved.
No One is Righteous:
9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,
not even one.” 13“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways, 17and the way of peace they do not know.”
18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Righteousness Through Faith:
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:4 Psalm 51:4
Romans 3:9 Or worse
Romans 3:12 Psalms 14:13; 53:13; Eccles. 7:20
Romans 3:13 Psalm 5:9
Romans 3:13 Psalm 140:3
Romans 3:14 Psalm 10:7
Romans 3:17 Isaiah 59:7,8
Romans 3:18 Psalm 36:1
Romans 3:25 Or as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin
This demonstrates to the Christian believer that, though we have all sinned, we can all be redeemed by grace granted us by our faith in God: that his hand will lead us back to righteousness. All of this was enabled for us by the New Covenant, sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Abraham Justified by Faith:
1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7"Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 4:3 Gen. 15:6; also in verse 22
Romans 4:8 Psalm 32:1,2
Romans 4:17 Gen. 17:5
Romans 4:18 Gen. 15:5
This passage demonstrates that, according to Christianity, faith is the currency which purchases dispensation and the aid of God in shaping lives and leading them to righteousness, as it did for Abraham, the Father of Nations.
Peace and Joy:
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ:
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned– 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To my mind, this last passage has parallels in Jeremiah 31:29,30:
“29 "In those days people will no longer say,
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge.'
30 Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes-his own teeth will be set on edge.”
That Christ has died for the Original and collective sins of the world, and also for our individual sins, we may all be saved by our faith in him. But if we are not to enter into that covenant, then our sins alone will be the ones that sink us.
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ:
1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness:
15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to everincreasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This explains why having received God’s grace through faith in the New Covenant, one is not excused from works entirely. He becomes a slave to righteousness. For those who are truly faithful, and place their faith in truth, they will be led by God to good works and deeds in his name. Because faith, as well as works, can be warped to evil purposes, one must be discerning that he believes in the truth, as Martin Luther said, “People must have righteous principals in the first, and then they will not fail to perform virtuous actions.” For a Christian, the source of these principals is the life and teachings of Jesus Christ revealed to us in scripture. That is where we place our faith. To deny scripture and substitute in its place the precepts of man can lead to all manner of evils and even though they may be done in God’s name, they will not be forgotten by him, unless he that has strayed later finds his feet back on the proper path. To find our way, we resort to study of the Book and to prayer. To quote Luther one last time, “Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him. In Hebrew, "Be silent in God, and let Him mould thee." Keep still, and He will mould thee to the right shape.”
There is so much more, and my main problem in writing this was to decide what leave out of my post. The fullest explanation can be gained by reading the entire Book of Romans, beyond what I have quoted here, and the writings of Martin Luther on the subject. I hope I have not confused or mislead you as to my beliefs and that this conversation will contribute to our mutual understanding. Thank you for your patience in reading this exceptionally long piece.