Era of Reform Justification by Faith
Era of Reform

The forgiving of sin, the considering of the individual as righteous before God, and the adopting of the individual as a child of God through faith in Christ.

Martin Luther in 1525 by Lucas Cranach

The claim that individuals are forgiven their sins and considered righteous by God through faith in Christ was the central profession of the Protestant Reformation. The teaching of justification by faith excluded all notion of human merit and pointed entirely toward Christ's work as its basis. Various Protestants accented this teaching differently. Some emphasized that in justification God counts the sinner forgiven, righteous before God, and adopted. This is sometimes categorized as "forensic" or legal justification. Other teachers emphasized that God makes the sinner a forgiven, righteous, adopted child. Some emphasized the objective work of God in Christ and others the subjective appropriation of this work. These varying emphases on occasion caused tension within the various traditions of the Protestant Reformation. Among the Lutherans, for example, Andreas Osiander maintained strongly that Christ dwells within the sinner for the sake of justification, thus emphasizing the subjective, impartative aspect of justification. Other Lutheran teachers, including M. Flacius Illyricus and Philip Melanchthon, countered with an emphasis on the objective nature of God's work and stressed the forensic, imputative character of justification.

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