The Justification Reader

The Justification Reader

The Justification Reader

The Justification Reader


"The Justification Reader sets out the classic Christian teachingof "salvation by grace through faith." Distinguished theologian Thomas C. Oden, well known for retrieving the riches of churchtradition, here gathers together the early Christian sources on thetheme of justification.

Ranging broadly through Christian history and across allbranches of the church, Oden cites the writings of such majorfigures as Athanasius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, and John Chrysostomin the East and Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great in the West. Although Oden presents all the relevant historicaltexts on justification, the book also includes his own insightfulexplication of the doctrine. His work shows that what these churchfathers teach on justification was restated almost verbatim by thesixteenth-century Reformers and can still be confessed in goodconscience by Christians from every communion. Thus this volumeboth provides a compendium of a central belief of the faith anddemonstrates its ecumenical potential.

The first volume in a new series, this book will be an importantsourcebook for readers from every tradition.


1. The Promise

My purpose is plainly to set forth nothing more or less than the classic Christian teaching of salvation by grace through faith, and only those parts of that teaching on which there is substantial agreement between traditions of East and West, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, including charismatic and Pentecostal teaching.

I promise to make no new contribution to theology. I will not set before you anything new or innovative. This is not an attempt at comedy. I only hope that my own personal voice does not drown out the magnificent voices of the Apostles, the Evangelists, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. As a former addict of fad theology, I have come home to ancient ecumenical Christianity. My only desire is to give voice to the truth of the early apostolic tradition without change or distortion. If something here should inadvertently seem to be new, it would be a decisive lapse from my intention.

If you are not a Christian, there is still much to learn from such an exercise. Take it as an act of empathy — on the premise that your Christian friends believe in what they call justification by grace through faith. Suppose you engage in an empathic exercise asking: How can I put myself in their shoes for an evening of reading and understand them better?

Or if you prefer, you have permission to think of this purely as a historical exercise: What have Christians of all times believed about salvation . . .

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