Was The Joint Declaration Truly Justified? | An Interview with Dr. Christopher Malloy | Carl E. Olson
are two lines of scrutiny that can be pursued in an effort to verify the merits
of the Joint Declaration. On the one hand, its historical implication can be
investigated: Did the original positions of each communion not, in fact,
substantially conflict with one another? ... On the other hand, the contents
proper to the JD can be investigated: Does the JD adequately represent the
teachings of both communities? (p 5)
In October of 1999 the "Joint Declaration On the Doctrine of Justification" (JD) was signed by representatives from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Catholic Church. These included Dr. Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the LWF and Edward Cardinal Cassidy, president (1989-2001) of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who signed the document in Augsburg, birthplace of the Protestant Reformation. The document elicited a wide range of responses, with some Protestants (Lutheran and otherwise) and Catholics believing it marked the end of any substantial disagreements about justification, while others--again, both Protestant and Catholic--were not convinced that the document answered satisfactorily a number of substantial questions.
One Catholic critic of the JD was Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., who wrote an essay critique of the JD in 2002, in the Josephinum Journal of Theology, that highlighted several of his concerns with the document. But perhaps the most detailed and lengthy response, at least in English, was published in 2005. Engrafted into Christ: A Critique of the Joint Declaration (Peter Lang, 2005) was written by Dr. Christopher J. Malloy, an assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas since 2001. In the introduction, Dr. Malloy provides a history of the JD and then writes:
To answer these two essential questions and many other related questions, Dr.
Malloy divides his book into four major sections. The first, "The Teachings of
the Reformation Era" (pp 19-122), sets forth the Catholic and Lutheran
positions, provides important background material about the Council of Trent,
and explains the meaning and importance of the doctrine of "double justice."
The second part, "Contemporary Attempts at Rapprochement" (pp 123-192),
examines the work of three twentieth-century theologians/schools of theology:
Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng, the Finnish School of Lutheran
theologians, and German Lutheran theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg. Dr. Malloy
shows that of these theologians, only Küng believed that "no doctrinal
alteration is needed by either Protestants or Catholics."
Part three is "Critical Analysis of the Joint Declaration" (pp 194-313) and includes chapters on background dialogues, the essence of justifying grace (both Lutheran and Catholic paragraphs), and resulting difficulties. Dr. Malloy concludes the third part with this assessment: "The contents of the Joint Declaration, therefore, are not merely flawed in isolated cases; they are in organic fashion contrary to the integrity of the Catholic faith." The fourth and final part, "Evaluating the Divide" (pp 315-387), contains theological reflections "on the divergent understandings of the essence of justification" and focuses on five related questions about the nature of justification.
While academic and rigorous in approach, Engrafted in Christ is accessible to the serious reader who has an interest in the topics of justification, salvation, and recent ecumenical dialogue. Although focused on Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, the book's examination of the teachings of Martin Luther are helpful to those wanting to better understand the theological disagreements that led to and were addressed by the Council of Trent. It also provides an excellent explanation of the Catholic understanding of justification, built upon both Scripture and official Church documents. In light of the ongoing conversations--both formal and informal--between Catholics and Protestants of many different backgrounds, IgnatiusInsight.com recently interviewed Dr. Malloy about his book, justification, sola fide, and several interrelated issues.
Read the interview...
There are two lines of scrutiny that can be pursued in an effort to verify the merits of the Joint Declaration. On the one hand, its historical implication can be investigated: Did the original positions of each communion not, in fact, substantially conflict with one another? ... On the other hand, the contents proper to the JD can be investigated: Does the JD adequately represent the teachings of both communities? (p 5)