Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor


Justification by Faith Alone
Charles Detwiler 
1512 Slaterville Rd. 
Ithaca, New York 14850


From: JASA 29 (March 1977): 47.

A recent letter in the September 1976 issue of Journal ASA with regard to the Understanding of Roman Catholics caused me to reexamine an article by Russell L. Mixter (Journal ASA, 28, March 1976) entitled "Scripture and Science with a Key to Health." The letter discusses Mixter's inclusion of the Roman church in the list of groups presumed to be outside the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. The writer then laments the Journal's inclusion of such writing within its pages, feeling such statements to be "offensive and unfair."

I wish to compliment the Journal for printing such statements, for it is in the context of such exposition as Mixter's that we are obliged to reconsider the relationship of such groups to the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. The second article of the ASA statement of faith refers to Christ as the sole "mediator" between God and man. The Scriptures in Romans ch. 3 and 4 declare by divine inspiration that justification is by faith alone in Christ's atoning sacrifice. In the face of such a doctrine, the Roman church continues to stand behind the assertion made at the Council of Trent (1545-63) that justification is a result of faith plus works; this constitutes a direct challenge to Paul's warning to the Galatians (ch 1, v 8-9). To the extent that Mixter's inferences cause our Christian brothers within or outside of the Roman church to again question such distinctions, the inclusion of such statements are a valuable service and a sign of the unwillingness of the Journal to simply allow such distinctions to be ignored.

The "evangelical" perspective referred to in the letter is, perhaps, broad in some areas and rather narrow in others. But to assert that the Biblical manuscripts teach or imply justification by other means than solely faith is either to imagine a contradiction between the books of Romans and James, or to deny the perspicuity of Scripture.

Knowledge of these doctrinal differences (deep ones to be sure) are often assumed in the writings of evangelicals, without restatement. For this reason, statements which regard the Roman church as lying outside the mainstream of evangelical Christianity may seem bigoted to some. On the other hand, if there is danger in associating with or contributing to such an organization as the Roman church, then what appears to be a bigoted statement is really simply an instructive one, which should raise honest questions in the mind of the reader.