Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Masson, Robert L.

Second Advisor

Mattox, Mickey L.

Third Advisor

Root, Michael


The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed in 1999 by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church, represents the high-water mark of the twentieth-century ecumenical movement. It declared that the sixteenth-century condemnations related to the central question of the Reformation do not apply to the theology of the partner church today. This declaration rests on a differentiated consensus on justification that emerged over forty years of bilateral dialogue. Within this consensus, Lutheran and Roman Catholic theologies of justification, while different and possibly even incompatible, need not be understood as contradictory. This claim has proven to be controversial regarding both the particular consensus on justification and the logical possibility of such a differentiated consensus. Members of both churches have insisted that the division cannot be overcome unless the questions of the sixteenth century are answered in their favor, making use of their cherished theological terminology. This dissertation reapproaches the question of differentiated consensus using the tools of contemporary cognitive linguistics. It investigates the embodied character of human knowing to demonstrate that conversation between communities of understanding requires attention to their particular structures of language and knowledge. In particular, attention to the "metaphoric blends" that structure meaning can reveal underlying agreement within seeming contradiction. The anthropological claims of the Joint Declaration, namely the Tridentine insistence that concupiscence in the baptized is not sin properly-speaking, and the Lutheran dictum simul iustus et peccator, meaning that the Christian is at the same time justified and a sinner, serve as test cases for the thesis. These seemingly contradictory assertions each seek to describe a double-vision of the Christian as already saved by God's action, but not-yet fully remade. The Roman Catholic claim is shown to depend on the cognitive blend SIN IS JUST CAUSE FOR DISINHERITANCE, interpreted within the cognitive frame provided by THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM. The Lutheran position is a development of Luther's contrasting blend SIN IS ANYTHING THAT IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH GOD'S LAW, understood within the framing provided by the distinctively Lutheran space THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL.