How does one go about the unpleasant business of determining whether or not they are anathema? Perhaps the first step is to discover exactly what it means to be anathema. To be declared anathema is to be cursed on an ecclesiastic (church) level and then excommunicated.
In the Roman Catholic Church, there are several ways in which one might be anathematized. Tim Prussic reviewed one in particular over at Providence this morning. While Tim deals with Canon XII of the Council of Trent, I want to look at Canon XI which states:
If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.
The Scriptures declare that we have been saved by Grace through faith alone, apart from any works, lest we start saying that we had some part in our own salvation and boast about it (Eph. 2:8-9). Believing the Scriptures to be true, I’m left anathema by the Roman Catholic Church. That’s to be expected. I grew up Lutheran, danced with Roman Catholicism before actually studying my Bible, and ultimately became Reformed. What’s unexpected (and funny) is the posthumous anathematizing of folks like the apostle Paul (who wrote Ephesians 2:8-9) and Augustine, who had declared in the Council of Orange (centuries before Trent):
CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).
So let this be a cautionary tale to those who put their foundation in something other than the Word of God. The time may come, as it did for poor Augustine, when you may be declared anathema for adhering to a Magisterial decree closer in line with the Scripture than what the present age Powers-that-be feels like believing. And really, what can you say to stop them?