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Anglican Reflections on Justification by Faith

William G. Witt

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This article reexamines the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone in the light of traditional criticisms and misunderstandings, but also of recent developments such as agreed ecumenical statements and the “New Perspective” on Paul. Focusing on formulations of justification found in Anglican reformers such as Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker, the author argues that justification by grace through faith is a summary way of saying that salvation from sin is the work of Jesus Christ alone. Union with Christ takes place through faith, and, through this union, Christ’s atoning work has two dimensions: forgiveness of sins (justification) and transformation (sanctification). Union with Christ is sacramentally mediated (through baptism and the eucharist), and has corporate and ecclesial implications, as union with Christ is also union with Christ’s body, the church.

 
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