15 May 2002

I noticed that Chris Burgwald over at his blog, veritas, has linked to me. Chris, it seems, is a doctoral student working on his dissertation for a degree in dogmatic theology from the Angelicum in Rome. I believe he may be working in the area of justification. At the very least, he asks if anyone has any thoughts on concupiscence and the Protestant notion of "simul iustus et peccator."

The background here is the doctrine of original sin which, in traditional Catholic theology, as I understand it, involves the loss of original justice, the incurring of guilt, and the presence of concupiscence ("the flesh," an inclination toward actual sin). In justification, sins are forgiven and the sinner is restored to a right-standing before God by the righteousness of Christ (how ever that is understood, and differences persist here between Protestants and Catholics).

Nonetheless, both Catholics and Protestants admit that after justification, concupiscence remains. The issue, I believe, is whether "concupiscence" is, in itself, truly sin. Protestants generally affirm that it is and thus the justified remain both righteous (in Christ) and sinful (in themselves), worthy of condemnation under God's law, even if reckoned righteous in the sight of God in Christ by faith. Catholics maintain that concupiscence in itself is not truly sin, not sin "in the proper sense" as something that is "worthy of damnation," cutting the person off from God (since, in Christ, that remaining concupiscence is no longer under condemnation).

In any case, if you have any well-informed thoughts on this, Chris would like your input.