What are the Merits of Christ?

Asteriktos

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I've come across this term in anti-Catholic literature, "merits of Christ," when the immaculate conception is being discussed. What are they, exactly? The jist of it that I'm getting is something about Christ producing more virtue (merits) than needed, and them possibly being applied/given to others...  is that about it? How does this all work?
 

Papist

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Christ, by living a perfectly holy life and sacrificing his life on the cros for us, has merited for us the infinite gift of God's grace. This gift is applied to us in a salvific way by means of faith, repentance, and the sacraments. It is applied to us in other ways by means of the prayers and sacrifices of others, induglences, etc. It is basically a highly technical way of saying that all good things in our spiritual life come to us as a result of Christ.
 

J Michael

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Ortho_cat said:
and how are merits "earned"?
If I might stick my neck out here and say...in the same manner, fundamentally, that the good things of the spiritual life come to all faithful Christians.  It's just that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church have different ways of talking about it or describing it--like so many other things that *appear* to divide us.  (Okay, Papist--time to set me straight about this  :laugh: :laugh:).
 

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Ortho_cat said:
and how are merits "earned"?
Well, there is where we diverge from one another. In our view, Christ, who was infinitely perfect, need not have suffered or died. Thus, when he did, justice could only be set straight by offering something infinite back to him in return. That infinite gift is the salvation of man by means of the Divine life. Elijahmaria, am I wrong?
 

orthonorm

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Papist said:
Ortho_cat said:
and how are merits "earned"?
Well, there is where we diverge from one another. In our view, Christ, who was infinitely perfect, need not have suffered or died. Thus, when he did, justice could only be set straight by offering something infinite back to him in return. That infinite gift is the salvation of man by means of the Divine life. Elijahmaria, am I wrong?
LOL. Thanks. What are you studying again? And what do you teach?
 

Papist

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orthonorm said:
Papist said:
Ortho_cat said:
and how are merits "earned"?
Well, there is where we diverge from one another. In our view, Christ, who was infinitely perfect, need not have suffered or died. Thus, when he did, justice could only be set straight by offering something infinite back to him in return. That infinite gift is the salvation of man by means of the Divine life. Elijahmaria, am I wrong?
LOL. Thanks. What are you studying again? And what do you teach?
I am studying philosophy. I teach math. I'm not a theologian, but try to understand Catholic theology to the best of my ability. Thank you for contributing to my struggle for humility.
 

orthonorm

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Papist said:
orthonorm said:
Papist said:
Ortho_cat said:
and how are merits "earned"?
Well, there is where we diverge from one another. In our view, Christ, who was infinitely perfect, need not have suffered or died. Thus, when he did, justice could only be set straight by offering something infinite back to him in return. That infinite gift is the salvation of man by means of the Divine life. Elijahmaria, am I wrong?
LOL. Thanks. What are you studying again? And what do you teach?
I am studying philosophy. I teach math. I'm not a theologian, but try to understand Catholic theology to the best of my ability. Thank you for contributing to my struggle for humility.
You are welcome. There are more posts I can help you out with.

Hey, at least you can take a joke.

But really, what on earth is infinite perfection?
 

Papist

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orthonorm said:
Papist said:
orthonorm said:
Papist said:
Ortho_cat said:
and how are merits "earned"?
Well, there is where we diverge from one another. In our view, Christ, who was infinitely perfect, need not have suffered or died. Thus, when he did, justice could only be set straight by offering something infinite back to him in return. That infinite gift is the salvation of man by means of the Divine life. Elijahmaria, am I wrong?
LOL. Thanks. What are you studying again? And what do you teach?
I am studying philosophy. I teach math. I'm not a theologian, but try to understand Catholic theology to the best of my ability. Thank you for contributing to my struggle for humility.
You are welcome. There are more posts I can help you out with.

Hey, at least you can take a joke.

But really, what on earth is infinite perfection?
Haha! You bring up a good point. Here is my feeble understanding: In Thomisitc metaphysics, Being and Good are are are somewhat synonymous. A thing is good insofar has it has being. Evil on the other hand, is a lack of a due good. Now, a being is perfect, insofar as it is Good, that is, insofar as it actualizes its due good or its essence. Now since God is essentially being itself, then he is nothing more than limitless perfection itself. Of course there is a great deal more that could go into this, but that's a very rough sketch.
 

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Papist said:
Ortho_cat said:
and how are merits "earned"?
Well, there is where we diverge from one another. In our view, Christ, who was infinitely perfect, need not have suffered or died. Thus, when he did, justice could only be set straight by offering something infinite back to him in return. That infinite gift is the salvation of man by means of the Divine life. Elijahmaria, am I wrong?
you lost me...
 

elijahmaria

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This may or may not go anywhere:  Papist is not wrong.  He simply began in the middle of things and is using technical terms that are not self-explanatory.

Try starting with justification, which is the cleansing of sins and the restoration of righteousness. 

Well...that righteousness is never our own: righteousness [holiness] belongs to God and through his grace we are restored to a state of sanctity each time we are absolved of our sins, where we remain until we sin again.

We can not even be open to receive grace that will put us into a state of sanctity in this life until we've been restored to the state of original justice that belonged to Adam and Eve [through Baptism into Christ]. That Baptism and Communion with Christ is made possible by his life, passion, death, resurrection,and ascension into heaven.  That is, essentially, the redemptive act of Jesus Christ.

That redemptive act and the ongoing work of salvation is what the Catholic Church means when it refers to the merits of Christ.
 

Ortho_cat

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elijahmaria said:
This may or may not go anywhere:  Papist is not wrong.  He simply began in the middle of things and is using technical terms that are not self-explanatory.

Try starting with justification, which is the cleansing of sins and the restoration of righteousness. 

Well...that righteousness is never our own: righteousness [holiness] belongs to God and through his grace we are restored to a state of sanctity each time we are absolved of our sins, where we remain until we sin again.

We can not even be open to receive grace that will put us into a state of sanctity in this life until we've been restored to the state of original justice that belonged to Adam and Eve [through Baptism into Christ]. That Baptism and Communion with Christ is made possible by his life, passion, death, resurrection,and ascension into heaven.  That is, essentially, the redemptive act of Jesus Christ.

That redemptive act and the ongoing work of salvation is what the Catholic Church means when it refers to the merits of Christ.
so the idea of "imputed righteousness" is part of this?
 

Papist

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Here is a Catholic Enyclopedia article that might be helpful:

"By merit (meritum) in general is understood that property of a good work which entitles the doer to receive a reward (prœmium, merces) from him in whose service the work is done. By antonomasia, the word has come to designate also the good work itself, in so far as it deserves a reward from the person in whose service it was performed.

In the theological sense, a supernatural merit can only be a salutary act (actus salutaris), to which God in consequence of his infallible promise owes a supernatural reward, consisting ultimately in eternal life, which is the beatific vision in heaven. As the main purpose of this article is to vindicate the Catholic doctrine of the meritoriousness of good works, the subject is treated under the four following heads:

•I. Nature of Merit;
•II. Existence of Merit;
•III. Conditions of Merit, and
•IV. Objects of Merit.
..."
Full Article:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10202b.htm
 

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It would be interesting to read a history of the phrase "merits of Christ."  At first glance it just seems to be a way to speak of the gratuity of God's gift of redemption.  I do not believe that it had much currency in the patristic period.  My guess is that the notion achieves achieves prominence in and through the writings of St Anselm and his reflections on the Atonement of Christ. 

 
 

Rufus

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What is the Greek term for "merit"? Does anyone know of any instances where it is used in a theological context?
 

elijahmaria

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akimel said:
It would be interesting to read a history of the phrase "merits of Christ."  At first glance it just seems to be a way to speak of the gratuity of God's gift of redemption.  I do not believe that it had much currency in the patristic period.  My guess is that the notion achieves achieves prominence in and through the writings of St Anselm and his reflections on the Atonement of Christ. 

 
In reality the whole teaching is that of justification.  It is a radical teaching that says that we merit salvation because Christ's good grace has redeemed us so that by becoming adopted sons and daughters of the Father we can share in the Son's redemptive work to the good of our salvation. 

We are, by grace, given the right to share in the Redemptive Acts of our Lord, and Savior.

It is a teaching that stresses the real heart and soul of theosis.

A creatures share in the divine life.

 

Ortho_cat

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Rufus said:
What is the Greek term for "merit"? Does anyone know of any instances where it is used in a theological context?
or in scripture?
 
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