Hodge On Two-Stage Justification

Hodge draws attention to the two-stage justification of the Roman Catholic Church and rejects it. The first justification, according to Roman Catholic theology, is gratuitous and is given for Christ’s sake and consists of the infusion of habitual grace. This divine process renders the person subjectively holy and righteous. The second justification is based upon good works, which are the fruit of sanctification. But Hodge asks how our good works can stand the test of divine scrutiny and somehow secure eternal life. Are they not defiled by sin? Hodge then reiterates the implications of the ground of justification, Christ’s righteousness: ‘It is not what is within us, but what is without us; not what we are or do, but what Christ is and has done, that is the ground of confidence and of our title to eternal life.” [Hodge, ST, III:131] For Hodge, like his Reformed predecessors, the imputed righteousness of Christ secured the right and title to eternal life. [Hodge, ST, III:164] The fact that Christ’s work secures heaven for the believer is an outworking of the pactum salutis because heaven, according to Hodge, ‘is always represented as a purchased possession.’ [Hodge, ST, III:164] In his rejection of a twofold justification, Hodge seems to echo the same points raised by his revered professor, Archibald Alexander. [Alexander, Justification by Faith, 16–17].

J.V. Fesko | The Covenant of Redemption: Origins, Development, and Reception (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), 163–64.


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