Mixed in with Marquart's reasoning will be my own humble conclusions. I'll try to make it clear when I'm referencing his points.
Marquart, Section 1 – A Digression on Terminology
Prof. Kurt Marquart (KM for the rest of the discussion) begins his presentation with the concession that the terminology “Objective/Subjective Justification” is “less than ideal.” The terms do not clearly convey what they are meant to convey (in the orthodox Lutheran sense), and they do lend themselves to convey an unorthodox (Calvinist) sense.
So KM argues that…
To avoid these problems, it would be best to retain the more traditional usage, which spoke of the “general justification” of the world in Christ and of the “personal justification” of individual sinners through faith alone. This corresponds exactly to the biblical distinction between God’s own completed reconciliation of the world to Himself in Christ (II Cor. 5:19) and our reconciliation to him by faith (v. 20).I think this is a good start. We make far too much of defending the terminology, when in reality, the terminology is not ideal. It’s OK to admit that. It’s not as if the terminology comes from Scripture or from the Confessions. We should not insist on the terms, nor should we pretend that the Biblical doctrine of Justification depends on them.
When someone says (as is often heard), “I believe in both Objective and Subjective Justification,” it immediately sounds like the person is speaking of two justifications. This is incorrect and misleading. There is not an “objective justification” over here of the world, and a “subjective justification” over there of individuals (as if the world were not made up of the same individuals!). There is one justification of sinners before God: won for all by Christ that exists only in Christ (aka, “general/objective/universal justification”), and is distributed to individuals only through the Means of Grace, apprehended only by faith (aka “personal/subjective justification”). The unbeliever possesses no righteous status before God, although Christ has surely won for him a righteous status, holds it out to him in the Gospel and wishes for him to obtain it by faith which the Gospel is all-sufficient to create.
But KM adds the following point, which I believe is also important: “If the sense is clear, one should not quarrel about words.” That orthodox Lutheran theologians have correctly understood and taught about justification using the terms “objective” and “subjective” is a point that KM will develop in the rest of the essay. Even though we may not think these the best words to use – especially given their further degradation in our time – we ought not label everyone who has used or continues to use these terms as heretical. It is mischievous and sinfully divisive to hurl accusations at people for using this terminology if they have properly explained their meaning according to the orthodox Scriptural teaching. If the sense is clear, one should not quarrel about words.
Nevertheless, one must be especially careful to explain the sense in which one uses the words “objective” and “subjective,” because the fact is, they have become increasingly unclear and they do lend themselves to confusion and misunderstanding since they have been used both improperly as well as properly. Better, I think, would be to stop using these terms entirely. (More on that later.)