What The Socinians Denied And Taught On Faith And Justification

1. That justifying faith, or that faith whereby we are justified, is our receiving of Christ as our Lord and Saviour, trusting in him and yielding obedience to him.

2. That faith, in justifying, is not to be considered as a hand whereby we lay hold on the righteousness of another, or as an instrument, as though righteousness were provided for us and tendered unto us; which would overthrow all necessity of being righteous in ourselves.

3. Nor yet doth faith, repentance, or obedience, procure our justification, or is the efficient or meritorious cause thereof.

4. But the true use of our faith (and repentance), as to our justification before God, is that they are the “causa sine qua non,” or the condition whereby, according to the appointment of God, we come to be justified; and so is imputed to us.

5. That our justification is our absolution from the guilt of sin, and freedom from obnoxiousness unto punishment for it, and nothing else. Our regeneration is the condition of our absolution, and in them both, in several respects, is our righteousness.

6. That the way whereby we come to obtain this absolution is this: Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, being sent by him to reveal his love and grace to lost, sinful mankind, in that work yielding obedience unto God even unto death, was, for a reward of that obedience, exalted, and had divine authority over them for whom he died committed to him to pardon and save them; which accordingly he doth, upon the performance of the condition of faith and obedience by him prescribed to them, at once effecting a universal conditional application of all actually justifying every individual upon the performance of the condition.

7. That as to good works, and their place in this business, Paul speaks of the perfect works of the law and legal manner of justifying, which leave no place for grace or pardon; James, of gospel works of new obedience, which leave place for both.

8. That the denial of our faith and obedience to be the condition of our justification, or the asserting that we are justified by the obedience of Christ imputed to us, is the ready way to overthrow all obedience, and drive all holiness and righteousness out of the world.

9. That, as the beginning, so the continuance of our justification depends on the condition of our faith, repentance, and obedience, which are not fruits consequent of it, but conditions antecedent to it, Socin. Thes. de Justificat. p. 18; Fragm. de Justificat. p. 113. And therefore, in the first place, we are to be solicitous about what is within us, about our sanctification, before our absolution or justification, Socin. Ep. ad Ch. MN. de Fide et Operibus.

10. As to the death of Christ, our sins were the impulsive cause of it, and it was undergone for the forgiveness of sins, and occasioned by them only, and is in some sense the condition of our forgiveness.

11. That absolution and pardon of sin are by no means the immediate effects of the death of Christ.

John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 12 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 597–601.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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