Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa (1401-1464) on Salvation by Christ Alone

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Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
In the 15th century, Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa advocated a reform of the church. The Pope asked him to write a treatise with his recommendations for reform. He did so. The pope ignored its recommendations. Reform would have to wait until the following century. Along with Anselm of Canterbury, Nicolas was one of a few favored individuals in the RC church before the reformation that expressed a Solo Christo view of salvation and was allowed to remain in communion with Rome. This is what he had to say:
“The merit of the man Christ is sufficient in its fullness for the justification of all men. And all our insufficiency is restored in him.” Excitationes p. 291
“The question, therefore, of whether God could save man in another way may thus be resolved. Eternal life must be had from merit, so that nothing pertaining to happiness is absent from it, while that is most happily possessed which is acquired from merit as owed. It could not be had except as God ordained it to be had, and as he so ordained that Christ die: therefore, he had to die, and so enter into glory. As he himself taught his disciples before his death and on the day of the resurrection, on the road to Emmaeus. For in such a way he is made our justification, so that the communication of merit through grace is our righteousness. And so we can say to God our Father that he give the kingdom of life to us for the merits of our Christ, it being owed to us as ours. And I judge this to be the supreme mystery of the cross, or death: I believe in Christ; I have the kingdom from merit, and also they to whom he communicates merit from grace. Likewise from the grace of communion, and from the merit of the sufferings of Christ.”
“The death of Christ alone could merit eternal life. For a consummate death merits immortal life. All other martyrs do not merit eternal life from their death. For all other death of any whatsoever is apart from the greatest death and is infinitely distant from the consummate death which alone is meritorious for the greatest life, namely, eternal life. But the deaths of the martyrs testify that they are conformed to Christ, and that they are in sanctifying grace [gratia gratum faciens]. And therefore, they are justified and sanctified by the merit of the death of Christ communicated to them, the way of grace.” Excitationes p. 343-44
“He, therefore, who is moved to apprehending true salvation, he must believe that true salvation can be attained, and that it is attained through Christ and in Christ. And this faith is reckoned [imputed] for righteousness: for man offers his supreme spirit to God.” Opera p. 463
 
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