The Franciscan friar Benedict J. Groeschel whom I’ve first encountered thru channel surfing on cable TV via his program on EWTN, is one of the many reasons why I believe (contrary to what most Evangelical Protestants) that Catholicism is a legitimate expression of the Church that Christ established in the New Testament.
I’ve found his writings insightful and have found comfort in his books especially during the first time that I really felt discouraged at my local church where I accidentally read a portion of his book Arise From Darkness that deals with instances that the church lets us down.
Here I’d like to draw our attention to his exposition on the Doctrine of Justification as stated in his book-length discourse on the true meaning of salvation:
“Justification accomplishes such a work in each of our lives –not only the remission of sin but also the sanctification and renovation of the inner person. To be justified means to be made right with God. Because of sin, we had been condemned to death. Yet Jesus paid our debt by dying on the cross. But justification does not make one saved immediately ready to enter into eternal glory. Because we have been devastated by the original wound, God sends his Holy Spirit into our hearts to heal and transform us.1. Groeschel, Benedict J. – Healing the Original Wound: Reflections on the full meaning of salvation p.48-49
The Reformers did not agree with this understanding of justification. They believed that the human being remained corrupt – “totally deprived,” in Calvin’s words – but that grace was poured over the soul so that we could be saved. They saw justification as a kind of outer coating –sort of an Eskimo pie in reverse.
Martin Luther was a crusty old fellow given to colourful expressions –sort of like myself, I’m afraid. He used a graphic German expression to describe human nature as saved by grace, which means “a manure pile covered with snow.” That was Luther’s idea of a saved person. I must admit, I sometimes feel like that myself. Haunted by neurotic guilt, young Luther knew he could never do enough good works to be saved. It finally dawned on this passionate, intelligent and somewhat pessimistic man that indeed he had already been justified, that he did not need to depend on his good works which he had taken seriously.”1