Council of Trent: Canons on Justification.

Lutheranism was growing strong in the 1500's.  In response to this, the Roman Catholic church convened the Council of Trent in November of 1544 in an attempt to counter the doctrines raised and supported by the Reformers.  The official opening of the council was on Dec. 13, 1545 and was closed on Dec. 14, 1563.  The council delivered many statements on various subjects.  These Canons have never been denied by the Roman Catholic Church.

Following are several of the doctrinal statements made on Justification at the council of Trent.  After each Canon are scriptures that contradict that Canon.  These scriptures are linked to the KJV on CARM so you can click on them and read them in context.

Finally, you will see the word "anathema" used many times by the Council.  This means that those who disagree with the doctrines of this Council are cursed.  In Gal. 1:8-9, the word "anathema" is used.  The curse must come from God.  Therefore, we conclude that according to Roman Catholicism, anyone who disagrees with the following Canons are cursed of God.  The Roman Catholic church excommunicates those under anathema.  In other words, excommunication means being outside the Christian church.  Being outside the church means you are not saved.

In spite of what Catholicism states, the Bible speaks differently.  Following each Canon is a list of appropriate scriptures countering the Catholic position.

  1. CANON 9:  "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."
    1. ""because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin," (Rom. 3:20).
    2. "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus," (Rom. 3:24).
    3. "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law," (Rom. 3:28).
    4. "For what does the Scripture say? 'ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," (Rom. 4:3).
    5. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
    6. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God," (Eph. 2:8).
    7. "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit," (Titus 3:5).
  2. CANON 12:  "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified...let him be accursed"
    1. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12).
    2. "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law," (Rom. 3:28).
    3. "For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,'" (Rom. 4:3).
    4. "Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself," (Heb. 7:25–27).
    5. "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day," (2 Tim. 1:12).
  3. Canon 14: "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema."
    1. "For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,'" (Rom. 4:3).
    2. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
  4. Canon 23: "lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial, - except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema."
    1. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him," (John 3:36).
    2. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day," (John 6:40).
    3. "and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand," (John 10:28).
    4. "so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," (Rom. 5:21).
    5. "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us," (1 John 2:19).
    6. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life," (1 John 5:13).
  5. Canon 24:  "If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema."
    1. "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? " (Gal. 3:1-3).
    2. " It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law," (Gal. 5:1-3).
  6. Canon 30:  "If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema."
    1. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
    2. " When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross," (Col. 2:13-14).
  7. Canon 33:  "If any one saith, that, by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.
    1. This council declares that if anyone disagrees with it, they are damned.


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About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.