The Council of Trent on Justification


In response to the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church convened a council at Trent in an effort to work out differences with reformers and to define Catholic doctrine clearly. Martin Luther and his followers argued that justification—a major topic of deliberation at the Council—is based on Christ’s personal righteousness alone. By contrast, the Council declared that justification also includes the righteousness Christ works in and through believers.


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Thomas J. Burke is the William and Berniece Grewcock Professor in the Humanities at Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Baylor University, his M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, his M.A. from Michigan State University, a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.