As noted in an earlier post I recently participated in the eighth Evangelical-Catholic Dialogue of the United States. The session met October 1-4, 2009 at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
We produced an Agreed Statement of Convergence on the topic The Reception of Salvation. While the statement is a little awkward in form it represents a strong consensus on the gift of salvation.
By our common faith in Jesus Christ we acknowledge and hold as essential to the gospel these life-giving truths:
In the mercy of God, salvation is offered and received in Jesus Christ. While Evangelicals teach that justification is the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness and Catholics teach that justification entails the infusion of sanctifying grace by which divine righteousness inheres in Christians, both traditions believe that all those who are in Christ are righteous on the basis of Christ’s work for us and that their natures are transformed through the regeneration and sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Thus while our particular doctrinal heritages regarding justification, regeneration, and sanctification differ considerably, the comprehensive picture of these expressions of divine grace, taken collectively, allows us to join together in the following affirmations:
We affirm that due to Adam’s sin, the image of God in human beings has been marred, resulting in estrangement from God.
We affirm that through faith in the saving death and resurrection of Christ, God graciously justifies the ungodly and regenerates them, imparting to them new life in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
We affirm that this new life includes participation in the divine nature, growing conformity to the image of Christ, love which is the bond of perfection, and
freedom from sin’s enslaving power.
We affirm our hope of Christ’s return in power and glory, the resurrection of the body, and the ultimate glorification of those who are in Christ.
We affirm that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the inheritance of all Christians empowering them to bear witness to Christ in service and mission to the greater glory of God.
We affirm that the Holy Spirit, the Master of the interior life, both bears witness to those who are in Christ that they are children of the Father and graciously guides them in spiritual practices so that they may come to the full measure of the stature of Christ.
These spiritual practices include those enjoined by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6): Prayer—those practices that nurture our communion with God; Fasting—those practices that discipline the self in the following of Christ; and Almsgiving—those practices that direct us in love to our neighbor.