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How can Protestant churches overcome their denial--in actual attitudes and actions--of their central belief in justification? The chief paradox of Protestantism, manifest in all denominations, is the blurring and contradicting of the central belief in "justification by grace alone through faith alone" The church in America, says the author, has always been prone to preach that being a good Christian will result in health, wealth, and happiness. Many church practices support a reward and punishment ethic--thereby denying the heart of justification: God's forgiveness. No wonder the laity does not understand the doctrine or its call to a new life! In this criticism of common church attitudes and actions Dr. Hordern contrasts the interpretation of justification found in the teachings of Scripture and the great Reformers with the practical pursuit of works-righteousness. In conclusion he shows how the church could act to enhance, rather than deny, the doctrine of justification--in particular in coping with the important matters of evangelism, attendance, giving to the church, accepting people into the church, and social service.
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William Hordern is President of Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, Canada. He is the author of many books, including The Case for a New Reformation Theology and New Directions in Theology Today: Volume 1, Introduction.
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