Sunday, September 18, 2011

The WEB: A viable English Bible translation?


Here's a plea to our readers, whether trained in Hebrew and Greek or not: Check out the World English Bible (WEB) and let us know what you think of it.

It's available online at: http://ebible.org/web/

I posted a few initial thoughts in a previous comment. I admit that I have not studied this translation very thoroughly, but on the surface, it's at least intriguing, especially for the fact that it's in the public domain and can be changed if necessary. That means NPH could publish a Bible in this translation without having to pay any royalties to anyone and without ever being beholden to the whims of publishers like Zondervan.

94 comments:

Benjamin Rusch said...

I've run through WEB's translation of the book of Philemon. I wrote up some notes, comments, remarks, and uplaoded a Word document for you to look at, downloadable here. It includes NIV and SBL Greek New Testament for references.

Some observations I made:
Participles in the Greek can occasionally be given certain "shadings". Take for example "ἀκούων". Depending on the context, it could be translated "because he is hearing", "while he is hearing", "as he is hearing", "the one who is hearing", or many others. WEB occasionally decides to give these participles no obvious shading. This causes the apostle Paul's typically long sentences become longer, more wooden, and more difficult to read if no interpretation is offered for these commonplace participle constructions.

As Pastor Rydecki did, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. In what seems like every place, the word εὐαγγέλιον is translated "Good News". The NIV translated this word most often "gospel". Sweeping through the books "The Good News According to Matthew" and "The Good News According to Luke", I found not one instance of the word "gospel". So "gospel" is rendered "Good News". Okay, what about other cognates of εὐαγγέλιον? What about εὐαγγελίζομαι in the Christmas account of Luke 2:10? WEB translates "I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people." Wait, isn't this the gospel Good News message, too? Where are the capital letters? The whole construction is a nice thought, but it's not consistent, and removes an important word from the Bible's vocabulary.

I noted some mistranslations in Philemon. You can read about them in the aforementioned document. This also includes some bad interpretation in Philemon, such as using the word "beg", when Paul is obviously not begging in his letter.

Anonymous said...

I think Koester's article was good...except for the TYPICAL WELS reaction to heterodoxy in their own midst. Koester couched the problem as if it were due to an "difficult situation" put upon NPH by Zondervan.

What a load of hooey! If there were not forces in the WELS with a wrong and foolish understanding of how to translate Scripture, if there were not a contingent in the WELS who promote church growth practices, and who go unchallenged, and unrebuked, there would be no question. The problem lies in the fact that heterodox doctrine and practice has been allowed to fester and grow for decades in the WELS.

So, as much I appreciate Koester's crystal clear analysis of the NIV 2011, (He really did a great job) I wish he'd have had the Intrepidity to point out the Systemic problem in the WELS.

I've been criticized in the past for saying the problems of the WELS are due to systemic doctrinal rot, so let me reiterate: The failure to deal with doctrinal error is a doctrinal error itself. And I submit that anyone who disagrees with the statement that the WELS has a cultural problem of refusing to deal with problems, is simply not credible.

The WELS has huge problems, evidenced by the fact that a panel of Seminary Faculty endorsed a gender-neutral (and academically and historically inaccurate) translation of Scripture...and the Synod leadership and the supposed conservative President, remains silent. Scary and Sad. Intrepid Lutherans too, for all your good work, are only willing to condemn the works of the false teachers, but remain silent about the false teachers themselves. Why? Any Conservative Lutheran oughta be calling for the resignation of any man standing in support of the NIV 2011.

This issue is going to be the WELS Waterloo unless IL and other conservative will get down to the nasty business of actually cutting out and throwing away the men who are the rot in synod. The Sem professors who recommended the NIV 2011 have proved they lack the wisdom to train young pastors. Time to eject them.

Andy Groenwald

Pastor Spencer said...

Hello Andy and thanks for your comments.

You encouraged that, ". . . IL and other conservative will get down to the nasty business of actually cutting out and throwing away the men who are the rot in synod."

Sorry, no can do! No mere group of Pastors and laymen can "cut and throw away" anyone in the WELS. For better or worse, WELS is organized on the "democratic" model. Major decisions, including to "get rid of" certain individuals are made either by congregations, district and/or synod convention, or by those elected at those meetings, or by those appointed by those elected at those meetings. In other words, if anyone is to be "thrown out" of the WELS, it has to be done by Voters, Councils, Pastors, Circuit Pastors, District Presidents, or the Synod President, or by those empowered by such people to carry out this action. To put even more simply - it must be done by YOU and men like you! Each congregation has an equal vote along with the pastors and male teachers to elect Circuit Pastors. The same is true at District and Synod conventions where the Presidia of Districts and the Synod are elected, along with many other administrators. Thus, the root of the problem actually lies with the laymen of the congregations of the synod. It is they, along with their willing accomplices - the majority of Pastors and male Teachers, who keep electing, and then re-electing, year after year after year after year, those who steadfastly refuse carry out Scriptural and doctrinal discipline within their areas of responsibility. If you're looking for the cause of the "rot" over the past many decades, that is it! Now, as to WHY these laymen, pastors, and teachers continue to elect and re-elect such non-functioning leaders - well, that will have to be the subject of another post.

Again, thank you for your comments. I too lament what is happening to the WELS. We at IL are doing what we can to educate and encourage laypeople, pastors, and teachers to hold their leaders accountable to proper confessional doctrine and practice.

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I was meaning "cut out" in a broader sense. I am fully aware that y'all don't have the ability to just x someone off the list. (ha ha) Why not lead your churches out of the WELS? The WELS needs a Seminex moment, except that the Conservatives, not the liberals, should abandon ship. God will take care of your congregations. Shoot, what do you need the WELS for anyway? The Sole good in the WELS are the individual churches, pastors and laymen who are faithful to the Word. There's nothing else of value in the WELS.(because all value of all things temporal is derived from a thing's relation to Faithful doctrine)

You don't need the WELS. The Synod offers you nothing that you don't already have. I hate to say it that way, but if the WELS iis a kettle of boiling water we frogs should get out of the pot.

Andy

Pastor Spencer said...

Andy -

Just a quick reply, and then I MUST get back to parish work.

Leaving WELS, and for where or what, is - like the issue of "incumbentitus" - grist for another post at some future time.

Let me just say that one part of this issue that concerns us Pastors especially is providing for our "replacements" when and and if that time comes. Yes, we understand that Christ could return before such becomes necessary, and yes, we trust the Lord of the Church to provide. Still, it is only good stewardship to plan for this. Indeed, this was the main reason that synods in American were formed in the first place; i.e. to control who is and who is not "eckt" enough to be a Lutheran Pastor, and to provide for new Pastors. Secondary were the concerns for missions and Christian education. While even a very small group can carry out and maintain professional clerical oversight and discipline, producing new Pastors is somewhat more problematic. Of course, such is not impossible for a small group, but has to be entered on with good planning and forethought. Thus, I would ask you and others who feel strongly about this to understand this concern, and to be patient as we seek to reclaim a system that once served us so well for so long. With God's help it can be done, and we must try before we "jump ship!"

Now - I must get back to work! Sermons don't write themselves - well, at least mine don't!

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

I suppose Lutheran pastors are always tempted to merely modernize the language of one of Luther's sermons and roll with that instead of writing a new one.

Heard at coffee hour: Gee, Pastor was really cooking with gas this morning! Simple, yet deep. (ha ha ha)

God's blessings with your sermon.
Andy

LutherRocks said...

I know I am beating a dead horse at this point, but this is terrible...

From Romans 5: 18 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life.

Joe

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe, what translation did you quote?

Here is NIV2011:
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

When you believe Objective Justification you are blinded to the truth, but once the cobwebs are cleared away from your eyes regarding UOJ it's almost laughable how a perverse translation like the NIV 2011 furthers the UOJ agenda. It is so terribly obvious.

Andy Groenwald

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Snide remarks about a Bible translation are really uncalled for. I think the NIV misses the mark again on Romans 5:18 (as does the WEB), but it doesn't further anyone's agenda. If someone is minded to find objective justification in that verse, he will. If someone is minded not to find it, he won't. It's in the interpretation of the context (both immediate and larger) that the meaning becomes clear.

What I mean is that Luther's translation can just as easily be used (and has been) by those who find UOJ in this verse. Of course, Luther's commentary on the verse makes it clear that he sees no such thing. But it's not a matter of a translation playing to an agenda.

Here's Luther's translation:
"wie nun durch eines Sünde die Verdammnis über alle Menschen kommen ist, also ist auch durch eines Gerechtigkeit die Rechtfertigung des Lebens über alle Menschen kommen."

"So then, as through one man's sin, condemnation has come upon all men, so also through the righteousness of one man, justification of life has come upon all men."

Anonymous said...

Fr. Rydecki, I wasn't speaking snidely at all. I was merely being honest in such a way to afflict your(plural) hearts. You guys of all people should be actively fighting against UOJ---because, unless I am severely mistaken you do not believe in Justification, absolution, innocence, of those who do not have faith. Yet that is exactly what the WELS states and defends, AND what they WELS will condemn someone to hell for denying. (meaning Excommunication).

And you are dead wrong about the ambiguity of that wording. The NIV clear states "one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people". Resulted in. (A transliteration of Luther into modern English proves nothing)

So now the righteous requirements necessary for life are met for everyone through the righteous act of one person, just as judgment fell on everyone through the failure of one person. CEB

18 So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification [a] for everyone. HCSB

18Therefore, as one trespass[a] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[b] leads to justification and life for all men. ESV

18 So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. ASV

18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. KJV

Andy

m00tpoint said...

Since the poor horse is being beaten ... Pastor Rydecki, how would you improve on the translation of Rom 5:18? As you know, the Greek with has 100% parallel construction of the two clauses. It's even clearer in the original than in most of the translations that the recipients of judgment and the recipients of justification are the very same group, namely, "all people."

Andy, your conspiracy mongering would be laughable if it weren't evil.

Dennis Rardin

m00tpoint said...

P.S. Regarding Luther's Commentary on Romans, never forget that Luther was not yet Lutheran -- not even close to being Lutheran -- when he wrote it in 1516.

Dennis

Daniel Baker said...

I don't understand how certain minds can be so ignorant about the context of Romans 5. St. Paul is trying to show that all people, i.e. not just Jews, are the beneficiaries of Christ's work. He is not establishing an innovative, universalistic doctrine which contradicts the rest of his theses (even in the same CHAPTER!) about justification by grace through faith.

Reading the surrounding chapters (especially ch. 3) shows this context very clearly. I just don't understand the use of this verse as some sort of end-all proof-text for UOJ, since the context of the verse is not justification itself, but rather the all-inclusive nature of Christ's salvific acts (as in, available to all). Am I missing something here?

Pastor Spencer said...

Give that man (Daniel) a cheroot!

No, you're not missing anything, Daniel.

Nothing, that is, except a prejudice in needing to see Biblical support for so-called UOJ, even if it has to be manufactured!

Keep thinking the way your're thinking and applying those excellent critical-thinking skills, and you'll be just fine.

Thank you for the spot-on comment!

Pastor Spencer

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Dennis,

I don't know if I can improve much upon the translation of Romans 5:18 given in Chemnitz' Loci Theologici (I suppose Preus was the one who put it into English?).

Rom. 5:18, “As through the sin of one man (guilt came) upon all men unto condemnation, so through the righteousness of one man (the blessing came) unto all men unto justification of life.” Therefore, they argue, by the merit of Christ original sin was entirely taken away from the nature of things. The answer to this is that there is a difference between the merit of Christ and the application of this merit, for otherwise, because Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, all the ungodly without penitence and faith would be saved. And in Rom. 5:17 the application of Christ’s merit is clearly being dealt with: “… receiving the abundance of grace and the free gift [of righteousness] they shall reign in life through Christ.” (Vol 1, p.301)

I really don't think you're on solid ground divorcing the early Luther from the late Luther on Romans 5. Chemnitz also indicates that the righteousness that comes upon all men refers to the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to faith, just as Luther taught in his commentary.

In this whole discussion, I think Chemnitz is the most helpful, because he puts everything in terms of Christ, whose righteousness is complete. Justification is nothing other than the imputation of that complete righteousness of Christ to believers.

This from Vol. 3 of his Loci,

But the Gospel brings to believers both Christ and the Holy Spirit. Those who believe in Christ have through imputation the perfection which the Law requires before God. For “Christ is the completion of the Law unto salvation to everyone who believes,” Rom. 10:4. Indeed, those who believe in Christ have more than the Law requires. For “through the obedience of one many were made righteous,” Rom. 5:19. But this obedience is the obedience of the person who is God and man, a person who owes nothing to the Law, since the Law requires perfection from men who are subject to the Law. In regard to this statement Luther is correct in saying that those who believe in Christ have as much as the Law requires, indeed they have more, by imputation through faith. (Vol. 3, p.600)

m00tpoint said...

Pastor Rydecki,

Regarding Luther, I think you'll find no one who thinks that Luther has his mature view of justification in 1516. Boehmer, Obermann, and the other heavy hitters in Luther studies would certainly not think so. I'd considered my P.S. to be a stating of the obvious, but apparently not. Can you cite any Luther scholar who would consider Luther's Romans a mature statement of his theology of justification?

Regarding the passage, the question is simple: On what grammatical or linguistic basis can you claim that the group upon whom justification of life comes is different than the group upon whom condemnation comes? Chemnitz' translation, with its supplied subjects, really won't help you.

If you like Chemnitz' translation, (I have no particular quarrel with it), the question simply becomes: On what basis do you claim that the "all men" who received "the blessing for justification of life" is different than the "all men" upon whom "guilt came unto condemnation?"

You mangle Chemnitz if you want to marshall him against Objective Justification here. He's arguing against the Papists who claim that this passage means original sin is simply gone, because they teach that justification is a "making just." Chemnitz' answer in that discussion is fine. It misses the mark in this one.

There have been some unguarded and one-sided things said about the objective side of justification. The solution is not to eviscerate the sedes doctrinae of their meaning -- a meaning the orthodox theologians did not do adequate justice to, or they'd have never talked of election intuitu fidei, with its latent synergism.

Do not think that the strawman so many make of UOJ is the great danger in this regard. As Siegbert Becker wrote in "The Foolishness of God," the danger here for Lutherans has been synergism, not universalism or Calvinism.

Dennis

m00tpoint said...

Daniel,

Can you show me a passage in the Bible that says that justification is available to all? "Available," as you speak of it, is an addition to the text of Scripture, isn't it?

In point of fact, in Romans 5, justification of life is not merely "available" to all people, any more than the condemnation resulting from original sin is merely "available" to all people. Romans 5, like Romans 3, does not speak of potentialities or possibilities. It speaks of realities.

Thanks,
Dennis

LutherRocks said...

Thank you sincerely from the bottom of our hearts for giving these posts the light of day. Although the official confession of the WELS will most undoubtedly remain unchanged, we are encouraged by your resolve, and publicly so, (on more than one occasion, Pr. Rydecki) with your confession regarding justification here today. This is not only a WELS problem, but a problem that has plagued the Church catholic for some time. May the Lord continue to strengthen and encourage all of you through His Word as He does us.

Joe and Lisa Krohn

LutherRocks said...

Dennis...Can you show me a specific verse that proves the Trinity? It is a matter of context and letting Scripture interpret Scripture...

Joe

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Joe, this is clearly a discussion that needs to happen, not one that we can simply claim to "already have been decided" in the past.

In the interest of full disclosure, we have not posted every single comment that has come through on this topic (sorry, Andy). If the rhetoric gets more heated than we're comfortable with, we won't put it through.

Blessings to you and your family.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Dennis,

I know of no passage in Romans 3 that speaks of Justification as a reality for all people, as if all people have already been justified. That is certainly not what Romans 3:24 says. It is a reality in that Christ has earned forgiveness of sins for all. As Luther says, he has acquired forgiveness for all. But that is not the same as saying that he has distributed or applied it to all. It is applied through the Means of Grace and received by faith. Those who do not believe have no righteous status before God.

You asked about the "two groups" of Romans 5. The Apostle Paul is the one who distinguishes between the two groups: those who are condemned in Adam (which is all people by nature) and those who are justified in Christ (which is those who are reborn through baptismal regeneration which he'll refer to a few verses later, those who trust in him, as he has been saying for three chapters). It's a real injustice to the rest of Romans 3-8 to speak of justification apart from faith.

To say that the orthodox theologians dropped the ball and left the door open for intuitu fidei is just ridiculous. The Confessions clearly repudiate intuitu fidei - before it ever existed. Chemnitz' Examen clearly repudiates it, too. It did not arise as a false doctrine because the Church never understood justification correctly before the Synodical Conference swept in to finally explain it correctly. It arose as a false doctrine because the devil always comes back around and attacks the clear word of God.

"You will surely die" in the Garden of Eden became the devil's "you will not surely die." There was no deficiency in God's word or in Adam and Eve's understanding of his Word. Just unbelief. That's always been the problem.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

This comment came in anonymously, but we'll add it to the mix:

How about some late Luther?
ca. 1541
"How can the Turk and all his devils really harm us? Just how far can he go, anyhow? He can neither take nor give us life, for we have forfeited our life long ago at the beginning of the world in the garden of Eden through Adam’s sin. All of us who are descended from Adam have already died in him, as we read in Romans 5. This includes the Turk as well as us. But Christ our Savior has long ago restored us and given life to all who call upon him in faith and long for him. But not the Turk, the unbelievers, nor the devils. They abide in death." Luther's Works, vol. 43:Devotional Writings pg. 238

That sounds pretty consistent with what he wrote on the topic in his Romans commentary of 1516.

Daniel Baker said...

Dennis,

For the most part, I defer your question to Pr. Rydecki's response, which is much better than the one I could provide.

But to address your general point - the availability of righteousness, life, and salvation *through faith* is predicated throughout Holy Writ. If one is justified, as we know from Romans 8:30, he has also been predestined and called to that very same faith. Therefore, the context of Romans 5 must not be creating a pseudo-universalistic justification. Rather, it must be hearkening back to the context of chapters 3-4, which indicate that Christ's work was for "all men," i.e. not solely Jews. Just as all men, not just Jews, were subject to death through Adam, so too all men, through Christ, are subject to life. However, and this is the key to this entire debate: NOT ALL MEN ARE IN CHRIST. Only those who have been grafted into Christ by the washing and renewal of Holy Baptism are justified by grace. To sum this up, I will defer to a quote from St. Basil the Great that I read today on an LCMS pastor's blog (weedon.blogspot.com):

"The water receives our body as a tomb, and so becomes the image of death, while the Spirit pours in life-giving power, renewing in souls which were dead in sin the life they first possessed. This is what it means to be born again of water and the Spirit: the water accomplishes our death, while the Spirit raises us to life" (St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 35, as quoted on: http://weedon.blogspot.com/2011/09/patristic-quote-of-day_21.html).

Those who are dead in sin are still subject to the effects of the first Adam. Only the regenerate are subject to the effects of the Second.

m00tpoint said...

Daniel,

Of course not all are in Christ. Of course the Spirit's work of conversion must occur in hearts through the Gospel. Who in the WELS denies these things?

The question is, what is the message that converts people? What is the good news I believe? Is that message, "I forgive your sins if you believe that I want to do so?" Does the Gospel say, "You are justified if you believe that you are justified?" Or does it say, "You have been forgiven. You have been justified. Believe it!"

m00tpoint said...

Daniel,

Sorry, I also forgot to ask again ... can you tell me a Bible passage which says that justification is "available?" I find no passage that speaks this way.

Your argument from Romans 8 doesn't work. "Those he predestined, he also called." Does the Holy Spirit also call those who are not predestined? Yes, he does; only a Calvinist deny that.

You answer my question about Romans 5:18 by appealing to "the context of chapters 3-4, which indicate that Christ's work was for "all men," not only Jews."

First of all, "all people" means more than simply "Gentiles as well as Jews." "All people" means "all people." It really does say, and mean, "all people." Paul goes to great lengths to say that this "all people" is the very same "all people" condemned by their guilt in Adam. You are trying to use your understanding of the context to change or limit the clear meaning of the actual words.

The Bible talks about being saved in exactly the same way. Whom did Jesus save? All people. (John 3:18 -- "... to save the world through him.") Whose sins did Jesus take away? "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Who, then, will be saved? "Whoever believes and is baptized."

In the one sense, the whole world is saved. The sin of the world has been taken away. The removing of sin is not potential; forgiveness of sins is not merely available. God's forgiveness is not sitting there, incomplete, awaiting the human act of faith to finish the deal. "I'll forgive you if you believe."

In the other, only those who believe are saved. The one is the message we believe, "God has saved the whole world -- even me." The other is the message about those who believe -- "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved." "Whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life."

I would encourage you to read, "The Foolishness of God" by Siegbert Becker. He deals with how necessary it is to silence our "common sense" in such matters, and simply believe that both statements are true, because Scripture teaches both -- even though they contradict one another in our little brains.

Dennis

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

To me, I don't know why we have to make it more complicated than the way it's described in the Formula of Concord (Epitome, Art. 3):

3] 1. Against both the errors just recounted, we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that Christ is our Righteousness neither according to the divine nature alone nor according to the human nature alone, but that it is the entire Christ according to both natures, in His obedience alone, which as God and man He rendered to the Father even unto death, and thereby merited for us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, as it is written: As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous, Rom. 5, 19.

4] 2. Accordingly, we believe, teach, and confess that our righteousness before God is (this very thing], that God forgives us our sins out of pure grace, without any work, merit, or worthiness of ours preceding, present, or following, that He presents and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ’s obedience, on account of which righteousness we are received into grace by God, and regarded as righteous.

5] 3. We believe, teach, and confess that faith alone is the means and instrument whereby we lay hold of Christ, and thus in Christ of that righteousness which avails before God, for whose sake this faith is imputed to us for righteousness, Rom. 4, 5.


Just that simple. Christ is our righteousness before God. Yes, he stands as the righteousness for all men. And he is presented to us in the Gospel. And faith, worked by the Holy Spirit, lays hold of Christ, so that now the righteousness of Christ is mine.

(continued in next comment)

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

(continued from previous comment)

Dennis, neither of the "Gospel" messages you put forth above are correct. The Gospel absolutely does not say, "You are justified if you believe that you are justified." Neither does the Gospel say, "You have been forgiven. Believe it!" I don't know where in Scripture you're getting these things from, or what apostle ever preached the Gospel in either of those ways.

Peter said on the day of Pentecost, "Repent and be baptized...in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins." He did not say, "You have been forgiven! Believe it!"

When Jesus appeared to his disciples on the night of his resurrection, he did not say, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins and they really believe it, they are forgiven." But neither did he say, "If you tell someone his sins have already been forgiven and he believes it, then they are really and truly forgiven."

No, what did he say, "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Forgiveness - that is, Christ - is, just as the Formula says, really and truly held out to people in the word of Absolution. Christ is presented to people in the Gospel, and faith apprehends him and a person stands righteous (i.e., is justified) before God. Where there is unbelief, then a person still stands under his own record of sin.

Now, if I am speaking to a baptized believer, I may well say, "Your sins have been forgiven. You have been justified. Believe it!" That person has already received baptism, and thus the Gospel, and thus Christ. That person will still, however, actually receive the forgiveness of sins "richly and daily in this Christian Church," even as the pastor pronounces the absolution, and the forgiveness of sins is actually distributed in the Holy Supper.

But to an unbaptized unbeliever, no one should ever say, "You have been justified. Believe it!" That is unscriptural. Just as the Apostle Paul did not say to the jailor in Philippi, "You have been saved by Jesus Christ! Believe it!" He said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!"

Why do people think they have the right to reverse the preaching of the Apostles?

I am well aware that Arminians view that act of believing as a decision and as the use of one's natural powers to believe. They are wrong.

But they are also wrong who put a person's forgiveness, life and salvation before and apart from the Means of Grace and apart from repentance and faith. Christ merited forgiveness for all people objectively, whether one believes it or not. But God's forgiveness and righteousness and life are in Christ and are only distributed in the Gospel of Christ. No one is justified apart from faith in him.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, wasn't "You have been justified. Believe it!" written by a WELS pastor?

Scott E. Jungen

m00tpoint said...

Pastor Rydecki,

Romans 3:24 certainly does say that the same "all" who have fallen short of glory from God "are justified freely, by his grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

Pastor Rydecki, what is the subject of the participle dikaioumenoi, "are justified?"

Romans 5:18, what is the correct translation of "pantas anthrwpous?" Does it exclude anyone?

The reason I asked about the two groups in Rom. 5:18 is that it is painfully clear the two groups are the same. "All people" means "all people," Paul. You say things like, "I know of no passage in Romans 3 that speaks of Justification as a reality for all people, as if all people have already been justified." Well, then what does "dikaioumenoi" mean in Rom. 3:24? You've said what you believe it does not mean. What DOES it mean, not in general terms, but in terms of the vocabulary and grammar of the text? If you've dealt in any detail with the grammar and vocabulary of these passages already, please point out to me where I can read it. "It's a real injustice to the rest of Romans 3-8 to speak of justification apart from faith." No, sir, it's not. Rather, it's a real injustice to the inspired apostle not to take his words in Rom. 3:24 and 5:18 (and a number of other places also, lest we forget) to mean what they plainly and clearly say. Then we are to wrestle with the relationship between these statements, and the statements which speak about justification by grace through faith -- and especially to wrestle with how utterly intertwined the two are.

One more before I go on to other tasks in my day. You say, "To say that the orthodox theologians dropped the ball and left the door open for intuitu fidei is just ridiculous." The orthodox theologians invented the term "intuitu fidei" in the first place! ALL of the orthodox dogmaticians taught election intuitu fidei, beginning with Hunnius in the late 16th century, through Gerhard, Quendstedt, Calov, all of them. It's not ridiculous, it's a matter of historical fact.

Dennis

m00tpoint said...

Paul,

I did not say that I think the Gospel says, "You are forgiven if you believe I want to forgive you." I asked, "Does the Gospel say this, or does it say that?" I believe it says the second, "You are forgiven -- believe it!"

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to keep the focus on Christ when discussing the matter of justification.

Christ was the Second Adam, the representative and substitute for all mankind. Thus, when he was justified at his resurrection, all mankind by necessity was justified in Christ (emphasis on "in Christ"). If all mankind was not justified in Christ at his resurrection, then Christ could not have been the representative for all mankind. If Christ was not the representative for all mankind, then our salvation is in grave danger.

Keeping the focus on Christ argues against errors on both sides. It argues against the rabid anti-UOJ crowd who almost claim that the words justification and mankind must never be used in the same sentence. It also argues against extreme UOJ supporters who almost grant justification to individuals apart from Christ.

So, yes, justification is objective in the sense that all mankind was justified in Christ. And, yes, justification is subjective in that individuals do not receive the benefits of it until they are put into Christ through the Means of Grace.

The pastors here can feel free to correct me if I'm in error.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Dennis, how do you explain the "all" in John 1:9? ῏Ην τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.
Luther, quoting Augustine, understands the "all" there to be the same way it is used in Romans 5:18 and that it must be understood from context.

Also, what is your understanding of Romans 5:19, which expounds on vs. 18, i.e. Why did the disobedience of Adam make(aorist) many sinners, but the obedience of Christ will make (future) many righteous?
The way UOJ is often explained you would expect them to both be aorists, wouldn't you?

The parallelism is obvious in that verse, too, but why the aorist/future and are "the many" the same(all) people?

David Brandt (that's "Vicar" to you, Dennis;)

m00tpoint said...

Mr. Peeler,

"Yes, justification is objective in the sense that all mankind was justified in Christ. And, yes, justification is subjective in that individuals do not receive the benefits of it until they are put into Christ through the Means of Grace."

Exactly so.

Herr Pastor David Brandt,

The problem with vicars is that if you put them in a dark closet and think they're safely sent off to Mequon atain, they become uppity pastors. ;-)

I take the future tense of "will be justified" in 5:19 to refer to the great "Not Guilty" pronounced once and for all on the Last Day, and the condemnation of Adam, and the death that comes from it, is swallowed up in life. This is by no means the only place in Scripture where the inspired writers slide effortlessly between past, present, and future, and we try to keep up wheezing and gasping.

In John 1:9, "all men" means "all men." (At least I'm consistent.) Jesus came into the world as the Light who would shine the truth about God. As Jesus himself points out in John 3, the fact that people hate the light, and won't come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed, doesn't change the fact that Jesus is the True Light, and is shining brightly.

It is also true that John sometimes (not in 1:9, but sometimes) uses sweeping statements to which he will immediately point out exceptions. "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him ..." I'm not aware of any in which he uses "all people" that way. In any event, when the inspired author says there are exceptions, then and only then do we limit the scope of the general, all-inclusive statement.

Dennis

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Dennis,

I agree with you about letting the divine author define who the people are to whom they are referring. Paul does just that in Romans 3:21-26:

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

If you'll just follow your own advice here, you'll see that those who are justified are those who have faith in Jesus. No one else.

Paul does not say anywhere here that all the same people who sinned have been justified. (Haven't we had this discussion before?) He says how all people "become justified" (pres. passive participle), that is, freely, through the redemption of Christ Jesus, by faith in him.

That is how all people become justified. There is no other way for a person to become justfied. That doesn't mean that all people end up being justified, because not all people believe in Christ who is our righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki beat me to that observation.

Also, if the future tense in Romans 5:19 is looking to Judgment Day, who then are "the many?" Is it the same "many" from the first half of the verse? Is it all people?

Here is Luther's comment on John 1:9:
It is however, remarkable, that he says: “it enlightens all people who come into this world.” If this is said of the natural light, his words are contradicted that it is the true light; for he said above: “the darkness does not comprehend it,” and all his words are aimed at the light of grace. Then follow the words: “He came into the world and the world did not recognize him and his own did not accept him.” But he whom the true light illumines, is illumined with grace and recognizes the light. On the other hand, one is driven to believe that these words are not spoken about the light of grace because he says “it enlightens all people who come into this world”; this is without a doubt said of all human beings who are born. St. Augustine says one must interpret the passage to mean that no man is enlightened except by this light, in the same way that one customarily says of a teacher in a city, where there is no other teacher, that this teacher teaches everyone in the city, i.e., there is no teacher in this city except this one. He alone has all the pupils. Saying this does not mean that he is teaching all the people in the city, but merely that there is only one teacher in the city and that nobody is taught by another person...
I do not know how to disagree with this interpretation; for in the same manner also St. Paul writes in Romans 5[:18]: “As through one man’s sin condemnation has come over all men, so through one man’s righteousness justification has come over all men.” Yet not all men are justified through Christ, nevertheless he is the man through whom all justification comes. It is the same here. Even if not all men are illumined, yet this is the light from which alone all illumination comes. The evangelist has freely used this manner of speaking; he did not avoid it even though some would stumble over the fact that he speaks of all men. He thought he would take care of such offense by explaining before and after and by saying that “the darkness has not comprehended it,” and that the world has never recognized him and his own have never accepted him. Such passages should have been strong enough so that nobody could say he had intended to say that all men are enlightened, but that he alone is the light which enlightens everybody and that, without him, nobody is enlightened.

Luther's works, vol. 52:Sermons II pg. 71
This is from his Kirchenpostille,written in the Wartburg, ca. 1521)

David
(Mr. Rardin, we both know there is only one of us that wheezes and gasps to keep up with the Greek...and it's not you.)

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

I will also add that Article 3 of the Solid Declaration ascribes Rom. 5:19 to justification by faith not the Final Judgment (I quote from the Reader's Edition):

[9]...His obedience is credited to us for righteousness. [10]These treasures are brought to us by the Holy Spirit in the promise of the Holy Gospel. Faith alone in the only means through which we lay hold on, accept, apply, and take them for ourselves [11] This faith is God's gift... We trust that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by god the Father, and are eternally saved. [12] Therefore, it is considered and understood to be the same thing when Paul says (a) we are "justified by faith" (Rom. 3:28) or (b) "faith is counted as righteousness" (Rom. 4:5) and when he says (c) "by one mans's obedience the many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19) or (d) "so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men" (Rom. 5:18). [13] Faith justifies not because it is such a good work or because it is so beautiful a virtue. It justifies because it lays hold of an accepts Christ's merit in the promise of the Holy Gospel. For this merit must be applied and become ours through faith, if we are to be justified by it

Not my merit, not my righteousness in Christ, but His righteousness which becomes mine the moment I believe. Not a moment sooner. To speak of my righteousness at any other point, in any other way, at any other time is heresy and blasphemy -- it robs Christ of His office and the merit that is His alone, it robs the Holy Spirit of His work, through which alone the Christian stands as beneficiary of Christ's work. The Christian is not regarded by God as righteous or forgiven at any moment prior to faith. On this, the Scriptures and the Confessions are clear.

The Concordists continue in SD Article 3 explaining that Justification is equivalent to Regeneration ([18]), but because the term "regeneration" is also used in Scripture to mean "renewal," it's equivalence with justification is taken only when what is necessary to justification ("only God's Grace, Christ's merit, and faith... are necessary to the article of justification" [25]) is in view in its use (SD Art.3 uses Titus 3:5 as an example, and states that in the Apology, the term "Regeneration" most often means "Justification"). The Christian's regeneration is accomplished, not at the cross, but in time through the free gift of faith.

Further still, in Article 4 of the Solid Declaration, concerning our Preservation in the Faith, the question of when we are first regarded by God as righteous must be addressed, before the question of how we are preserved in this righteousness can be addressed:

[34]... the promise, not only of receiving, but also of retaining righteousness and salvation, is firm and sure to us. St. Paul (Rom. 5:2) ascribes to faith not only the entrace to grace, but says that we stand in grace and boast of the future glory. In other words, he credits the beginning, middle and end, to faith alone...

Faith is the beginning of our righteous standing before God. It is error to have faith in our righteous standing before it has been imputed to us through faith.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen,
Going back to the original post here, how about going back to the King James, or the New King James?

Scott E. Jungen

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Douglas, great comment!

Scott, after having looked a bit more at the WEB and received some helpful comments on it, I think it's probably not the best option. I personally don't think it's wise to go all the way back to the KJV, but NKJV is certainly a good choice.

I still think there is a need for a new translation in the spirit of Luther that can speak even more clearly than the NKJV.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee said, "To speak of my righteousness at any other point, in any other way, at any other time is heresy and blasphemy".

That's exactly right. It seems to me that the whole problem is created when people try to speak about objective justification using inherently subjective terminology. When speaking of objective justification, one cannot speak of particular individuals or groups (e.g. people in hell). Once you start talking about individuals, you have, by definition, crossed the line from objective to subjective. When speaking about objective justification, one must use only objective terms (like "mankind"). When speaking about subjective justification, one must only use subjective terms (like "me, you, them," etc). If people would keep that straight and speak precisely, much of the whole justification issue would evaporate.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Mr. Peeler,

I'm not sure that's the solution. Let me give you a sample conversation between someone who's trying to maintain your objective/subjective distinction and an inquirer:

"So, is all mankind justified?"
"Yes."
"What about that atheist over there?"
"No."
"But isn't he part of mankind?"
"Yes."
"But I can't say he as an individual has been justified?"
"No."
"So, isn't he included in mankind's justification?"
"Yes."
"But he isn't justified?"
"No. Well, yes and no. As part of mankind he is, but as an individual, he isn't."
"Huh?"

The conversation breaks down quickly when one tries to maintain "objective" language, as if individuals were excluded.

What's the difference between "the world," "mankind," and "all people of all time"? If "all people" have been justified, then how can someone say that "this person" hasn't? Is he somehow not included in "all people"?

Instead of this, it is more accurate simply to say that Christ has been given and now stands as the Representative for all mankind. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Whoever does not believe will be condemned." And we trust the Holy Spirit, working through the Means of Grace, to create faith when and where it pleases God. Just that simple.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,

Point taken, and yet, aren't there plenty of Christian truths that might seem to break down in such a line of questioning? I can envision the same sort of back and forth over the Trinity or predestination or a host of other doctrines. Just because something isn't easily explainable to an inquirer doesn't make it false.

Let me expand on the example of predestination. It is a doctrine with a very specific application. It is given to us to give comfort to worried and doubting souls. In this context, it's very useful. We can't, however, apply it out of context, as Calvinists do, to explain why others are damned. I've heard a pastor explain it as a one-sided coin. The doctrine is given for one purpose, to provide comfort. If you try to flip it over and see what's on the other side, it simply disappears.

In some ways, I see objective justification the same way. It's a doctrine with a very specific context--the justification of Christ as the representative of all mankind. Once you try to divorce it from that context and apply it to individuals, it simply disappears, thus sparing the embarrassment of talking about justified, guilt-free saints in hell, among other things.

I guess what it comes down to is that I'm uncomfortable with the insinuation that while most of Christ's redemptive work was for all mankind, part of Christ's redemptive work (namely, his justification on Easter) was only for some. If Christ was only justified as the representative of those who one day would come to faith, then perhaps he only died for those who one day would come to faith. This leads to very dark places.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,

I'm obviously out of my depth here since I don't know Greek, but I've been told that Romans 4:25, which you quote above, is better translated "he was raised again because of our justification". I believe this is how the NASB translates it. This would mean that Christ wasn't raised to make justification possible, but was raised because justification had taken place.

I agree that that justification in the subjective sense is a Third Article doctrine, but justification in the objective sense is a Second Article doctrine. The Second Article states objectively what Christ has done to save mankind, and the Third Article states subjectively what the Spirit does to give that salvation to individuals.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

By the way, since we're talking about this, there's a question I've always wanted to ask people who deny objective justification. If Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of the world, then on what basis are some people in the world not justified? If, objectively speaking, all people have had their sins taken away, why, objectively speaking, would God not declare all people "not guilty"? God would seem to be an unjust judge if he himself removes mankind's offenses but at the same time refuses to give mankind a verdict of "not guilty".

Adam

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Mr. Peeler,

Much is made by some people of the preposition in Romans 4:25, because somehow they think they have finally discovered (after 1900 years of no one ever understanding this before) what Paul really meant to say in that verse, namely, that all people have already been declared righteous apart from faith.

The simple Greek of the verse does not make their case for them. The preposition "dia" with the accusative occurs twice in that verse. "On account of" or "for" is a proper translation for both. "who was delivered over on account of our trespasses and raised on account of our justification."

The exact same preposition + accusative occurs in v. 23 and again in v. 24, and makes plain the meaning of v.25. I'll put it below in bold, and I'll translate each phrase the same to show the relationship among them.

23 Now it was not written on account of him alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But on account of us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered on account of our offences, and was raised again on account of our justification.

Now, I don't think anyone would read v.24 and say, "Ah, God recorded in 1500 BC how Abraham was justified (through faith) on account of us, that is, because we already existed." No, "on account of us" looks forward, not backward. Way back in 1500 BC God had Moses record how Abraham was justified (by faith) on account of us, that is, that we might one day read it and understand that we are justified in exactly the same way as he was, namely, by faith.

LutherRocks said...

By teaching that all men are justified and therefore forgiven upsets the balance between Law and Gospel; it actually renders the Law useless. It is not a fun business to preach that all men are sinful. But that is what Peter did at Pentecost and all the prophets before him including the Son of God. Repent, repent, repent and be baptized. This skewed view of justification has opened the door for all kinds of things and will ultimately dismiss the importance of faith. Things like: Upside down evangelism (huge); church growth methods; eliminating the liturgy (too stuffy and boring); abolishing Holy Communion (don't want to offend); women's role...and it goes on and on.

Joe

Anonymous said...

Joe, that's a complete strawman argument. You could make the exact same argument about subjective justification by faith: "Well, once a person comes to faith and their sins are forgiven, that means the law is useless and we can't preach against that person's sin anymore." In fact, that's the very argument that people have always leveled against those who preach the Gospel from Paul to Luther on down--that telling people their sins are forgiven is bad because it negates the Law.

Mr. Adam Peeler

LutherRocks said...

"Justification is the verdict of "not guilty," God acquitting us of sin for the sake of Christ's perfect life and innocent death. Justification is not the Spirit's work through the Means of Grace.

The Spirit's work in our hearts does not cause the Father to declare us not guilty. Jesus living and dying as our Substitute caused and causes the Father to declare us not guilty. The Spirit, working through the Gospel, causes us to believe that God's declaration in the Gospel is the truth. That's not justification. That's conversion, or regeneration."

Double wow...you need perspective...

By your confession you would have the Apostle's Creed and explanation re-written, Mr. Rardin...and Abraham unrighteous until Jesus' death...

LutherRocks said...

No, Mr. Peeler, I did set up a straw man. I stated fact. You are putting words in my mouth...

Anonymous said...

"You are putting words in my mouth..."

Would you care to demonstrate how I'm doing that?

Joe, I totally agree with you on your concerns about church growth methodology in the WELS, but your assertion that this comes from teaching objective justification is simply untenable. The fact is that church growth methodology comes from Arminianism which puts emphasis on subjective faith and downplays the objectivity of the gospel. So, if anything, the argument could be made that church growth methodology springs from a denial of objective justification.

It's easy to see how, if you downplay the objective facts of salvation, and instead focus on the subjective "faith experience" of each individual, as Arminianism does, you end up with "upside down evangelism...church growth methods...eliminating the liturgy...abolishing Holy Communion, etc."

The solution to these issues isn't to try to make things even more subjective, but instead to focus on the objective: it doesn't matter how you feel, it doesn't matter how uplifting the music is, it doesn't matter warm and cozy a congregation is, etc--the objective fact of Christ crucified is what matters.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Also, Mr. Baker, I completely agree with you that there is only one justification. Objective and subjective justification aren't two separate justifications, they're just two ways of looking at the same justification. It's a common strawman argument against those who believe in objection justification to say that they believe in two justifications, but it's simply not true.

Let me give you an analogy. Let's say that a judge calls ten criminals into his courtroom. He declares to them that his son has chosen to receive the blame and punishment for all of them. This means that they in turn have been declared not guilty. Five of the criminals believe the judge and walk out the door to freedom. The other five don't believe and walk back to their cell.

Now, how many people were justified in that scenario? Well, objectively speaking, all ten were. Subjectively speaking, five were. When were these men justified? Objectively speaking, it was the moment the judge declared it. Subjectively speaking, it's when the men who believed walked out the door. It's just two different perspectives on the same thing, the same justification, the same event.

All analogies limp, of course, but perhaps it's helpful.

If anything, it's your side that divides things up too much, by separating Christ's redemptive work and justification, as Pastor Rydecki has, or by separating the Second Article from the Thrid Article, as Joe has. Instead of seeing Good Friday/Easter Sunday/my Baptism as one connected salvation event, they separate these things into pieces. In fact, on his blog, Joe even made the statement that when it comes to salvation, we need to focus less on Christ on the cross and more on our own faith!

Anything that tries to divide our faith from Christ crucified or draw our attention away from Christ crucified is devilishly dangerous.

Adam

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Adam,

Let me ask you some questions about your analogy. They're serious questions, and I realize that all analogies limp, but the premise for yours confuses me.

So, if the judge has already pronounced an innocent verdict over the ten criminals you spoke of, then is the Law to be preached to them at all?

Also, if the judge has already pronounced the verdict of innocence over these ten criminals, and his message to them all is that they are declared righteous and free to go, how do you fit Peter's Pentecost sermon into this analogy, or Paul's preaching to the jailor in Philippi?

Again, serious questions, because to me, your analogy seems to reverse the preaching of the apostles, placing the forgiveness of sins first, before baptism and faith, whereas I see the apostles preaching baptism for the forgiveness of sins, not baptism as a symbol of a forgiveness already pronounced.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

While you think about those questions, Adam, let me suggest this following correction to your analogy.

All men stood in God's courtroom condemned. God sent his Son, who has now received the full penalty for all their crimes. He was even put to death. But God raised him from the dead and handed a verdict of righteousness to his Son. His Son has been given authority to distribute his righteous verdict to anyone he wishes. He sends out authorized messengers who carry his verdict with them, announcing this message to the condemned criminals, "You stand condemned in God's courtroom, but God has raised up a Savior for you. Repent, for your record condemns you, and receive instead the innocent verdict of God's Son. Be judged under his name rather than your own. Receive his holy name placed upon you in baptism, and with it, the innocent verdict of Christ."

This analogy, too, does not explain the whole life of a believer, but I think it more accurately illustrates the Biblical doctrine of justification. The innocent verdict has not been proclaimed upon all. It has been proclaimed upon Christ as the substitute for all, to be distributed by authorized messengers through the Means of Grace, and is received by faith. This is the whole picture of justification.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,

Your questions are exactly why I almost didn't use the analogy I did. You've identified the exact place where the limping occurs. The only point of my analogy is that one singular event can be viewed from both an objective perspective and a subjective perspective without separating the event into two events. I didn't mean it to be a comprehensive description of my entire point, though if you wanted to press it, you could argue, I suppose, that these criminals in my analogy had already had the law preached to them since they were condemned criminals. I simply started my story in media res.

My question for you would be this: if you are going to give something to someone, doesn't it already have to exist? If you are going to make something subjective, doesn't it already have to be objective?

I agree with you completely that Baptism is not just a symbol, that it really gives real forgiveness at that very moment. But that forgiveness, given subjectively in Baptism, is already an objective reality. Otherwise, you would have to argue that the act of Baptism in and of itself, not Christ's work on the cross, creates and causes forgiveness. You would have to state that Baptism has it's own objective salvific power outside of Christ's saving work.

Paul argues the opposite in Romans 6. Baptism subjectively connects us to the objective reality of Christ's death and resurrection. Baptism gives us the subjective blessings of the objective truth.

That's why the apostles preached Baptism for the forgiveness of sin. They were preaching subjectively to individual "subjects". Through Baptism these individuals to whom they were preaching would subjectively receive and enjoy forgiveness.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki, you said: "It [the innocent verdict] has been proclaimed upon Christ as the substitute for all, to be distributed by authorized messengers through the Means of Grace, and is received by faith."

This is exactly my position as well. I just don't understand how you can then claim that while the innocent verdict has been proclaimed upon Christ as the substitute for all, the verdict has not been proclaimed upon all.

If Christ is the substitute for all mankind, then what is proclaimed upon him is necessarily proclaimed upon all. How could he be the substitute for mankind if what's true for him isn't true for mankind? The natural implication of this is that what Christ did on the cross didn't really count for all mankind either.

In everything he did, Christ was the full and complete substitute for all mankind. That goes for his life, suffering, death, and resurrection. If Christ was justified, then all mankind was justified in Christ.

The only problem is that many people, by choice or ignorance, are not in Christ. That's why, as you said, God sends out his messengers to proclaim the gospel, through which individuals are put into Christ through faith, and thus enjoy the blessings of what Christ has done.

Adam

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

It seems like we're getting somewhere. This is good.

You ask, "If you are going to give something to someone, doesn't it already have to exist? If you are going to make something subjective, doesn't it already have to be objective?"

First, let's ditch this terminology of objective and subjective. Marquart, too, pointed out how inadequate they are because what's called "subjective" justification is just as objective as "objective" justification.

Second, I think my analogy above describes exactly what the "existing" thing is that is being given to us. It is Christ, the God-Man, and all his benefits. Chemnitz is very clear about this, too. It's the merits and the righteousness of Christ that are being applied to us through the Gospel. The Gospel does not say, "You have already been forgiven. Believe it!" The Gospel says, "Christ is your Righteousness. Believe in him!" The object of my faith is not my prior justification. The object of my faith is Christ. There is nothing more objective in the universe.

It is not for nothing that our Confessions repeatedly use the terms "regeneration" and "justification" as synonyms. Dennis was shocked by that, apparently, but our Confessions do it repeatedly. When the Holy Spirit works faith in my heart - faith in Christ - then I share in Christ's righteousness. I am justified.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Adam,

If Christ is the substitute for all mankind, then what is proclaimed upon him is necessarily proclaimed upon all. How could he be the substitute for mankind if what's true for him isn't true for mankind? The natural implication of this is that what Christ did on the cross didn't really count for all mankind either.

Your logic is getting away from you here. You keep drawing these conclusions that the Scriptures do not draw and making implications that the Scriptures simply do not make. How exactly are you understanding the word "substitute"?

Christ loved God perfectly. Are you saying that all people have loved God perfectly? I hope not.

But didn't he love God perfectly as the substitute for mankind? Yes he did. But his perfect love is not counted as the perfect love for all mankind. It is counted (imputed) to faith - faith in his record of love. Those who rely on what Christ did as our Substitute claim his record of perfect love for God as our own. Those who hate God (and his Christ) cannot at the same time be said to have loved God perfectly, even though mankind's substitute did.

Our connection to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ - with all its implications - is in Baptism, according to Romans 6. The unbaptized (and unbelieving) do not claim Christ's righteousness, and therefore they are still dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2), still condemned, still unrighteous. God's message to them is not that they are already righteous.

Anonymous said...

"The object of my faith is Christ."

Yes, I agree. But it's incomplete simply to say, "The object of my faith is Christ", just as it's incomplete to say, "I believe what the Bible says." In both cases, you're begging the question, "OK, well what is it exactly that you believe about Christ? What is it exactly that the you think the Bible says?"

The object of my faith is Christ who died for the forgiveness of the world's sins and rose again for the world's justification. The object of my faith is not Christ who says I can have forgiveness and justification but only if I believe it. The former makes Christ and his work the object of faith. The latter makes my faith the object of my faith.

See, I've known people who, near death, have wondered, "Do I really have faith? Do I have a strong enough faith? Maybe I'm going to go to hell because my faith is too weak." The devil had made faith, not Christ, the object of their salvation. That seems to be what you are doing when you seem to claim that forgiveness and justification only become realty at the moment of faith.

Instead, what those near death (or any who are doubting) should be asking is: "Am I a part of mankind? Am I part of the world? Well, if I am, then I can rest secure, because in Christ the world has been saved, and thus, I too am saved."

Adam

Anonymous said...

Christ, as the substitute for mankind, loved God perfectly. This is the objective fact. The perfect love of Christ is imputed to individuals through faith. This is the subjective fact. That's all I'm saying.

You're trying to make my words say more than I intend when you take my objective statements and then try to apply them subjectively. Of course Christ's perfection doesn't mean that everyone in the world is perfect! I never said that. You can't take what's objectively true in Christ and then try to apply it subjectively to those who aren't in Christ.

Adam

Anonymous said...

Adam, I think your analogy limps in a number of ways: Are the pardoned criminals going to be let back into their cells? If they were guilty of something deserving death are they still going to be executed? Remember that in the courtroom of God, the judge and executioner are one and the same God. If the judge has just declared you not guilty is he going to then go and hang you?

John 1:29 was brought up yesterday. A couple of observations: The verse does not say The Lamb who has taken away the sin of the world. It does not say the Lamb who will take away the sin of the world. It says, "Look, the Lamb of God who is taking away (or bearing) the sin of the world." It's a present active participle.
Don't leave out the emphatic "Look (Behold)" I understand it along the lines of John 3 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. cf. also 1 John 1:2-3 and 1 John 3:5

Jesus came and revealed himself that all might look to him in faith and be saved. Since he paid the penalty for the sins of the entire world he can be just and the justifier of those that believe.

The Holy Spirit, through Word and Sacrament, brings Christ, points to Christ, shows Christ and whoever (in the whole world) believes in him He forgives - presently, continually. Whoever does not believe stands condemned - not pardoned, not justified. Since this beholding Christ (in faith) is the work of the Holy Spirit, sola gratia stays in place.

I've heard the argument you are making about objective justification being the only way we can have certainty and peace. The argument doesn't hold up for me and Pastor Rydecki pointed out why. The only way UOJ gives that kind of comfort is if it is truly universalism. What I mean is this - If a person can be justified and still go to hell, what comfort is it to know that I'm justified?

David Brandt

Daniel Baker said...

Mr. Brandt points out the hole in this inane logic in his closing sentence: "If a person can be justified and still go to hell, what comfort is it to know that I'm justified?"

Conveniently, Mr. Peeler neglected to answer my question regarding the world's restoration to *eternal* life and its subsequent compellation to lead a *new* life. Though, astoundingly, he cedes that the world HAS been restored to life! "Logical gymnastics," indeed! He would have us believe that the moment Christ died (or the moment He was raised to life - I'm still not clear on that point), all people became "not guilty," but fails to explain how this can apply to people who existed before the verdict was made. According to him, everyone has always been not guilty, because God is not bound by time. Ergo, Adam and Eve were not guilty before they even sinned in the garden. When God made the promise "you will surely die," He knew He was just kidding - they were already not guilty.

Aside from all of this, even looking to Mr. Peeler's assertion that dying people have feared that their faith wasn't good enough (I have yet to hear such a thing - all I hear from pastors is how comforting the dying's faith in the life and death of their Savior truly is), the Christian can rightly assure their dying brother that *their* faith IS NOT good enough; that's why our faith is not something we scrounged up, but rather was *given to us* by God the Holy Spirit. As Pr. Rydecki rightly pointed out, the sacrament of Holy Baptism can comfort the sick and dying in this regard.

After the course of this discussion, I have come to realize that the entire logical fallacy that is UOJ has developed as a means of making God's damnation of the wicked somehow more palatable. If we say that God has already given everyone a clean slate, then it truly is not His fault that anyone is in hell. It seemingly takes care of the old paradox: "why are some in heaven while others are in hell [if faith is God-given]." Of course, it fails to deal with the problem of those who were never given the message of the promised Christ (another problem that Mr. Peeler fails to address - what if the judge in His analogy declared the 10 prisoners not guilty while the 5 who didn't make use of it were still in their cells, and never found out about it? The entire fault with that anaology is that it makes faith something we do - we either choose to accept Christ's work or we reject it and live our own lives. It makes the Holy Spirit's work of regeneration meaningless). In short, it is a frail human attempt to circumvent the clear words of Scripture with an unfounded and radical doctrine, seeping with holes and dangerous conclusions. It has no foundation in Holy Writ, the writings of the early Church, the Reformers, or the fathers of Lutheran Orthodoxy. Thank God we have American Lutheran theologians to point us to what Christ and the Church for the last two thousand years forgot to mention.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Finally, to be clear, Dennis, the objective obedience of Christ, the objective merit, suffering, death and resurrection of Christ are all part of his work of redemption, and it is all complete for all people of all time. That is not being called into question by anyone here.

The question here is, who has a righteous status before God? Whom does God count among the righteous? And whom does God count among the wicked? Anyone?

I say that the Biblical and Confessional term "justification" refers only to the righteous status God bestows on believers in Christ. Those who hate Jesus do not have his righteousness, and we have no right to say that they have a righteous status before God. They do not. They are counted among the wicked, because they have not believed in the name of God's Son, who is man's righteousness.

LutherRocks said...

Adam...would love to see full context or at least citation...

Joe

Anonymous said...

The last time we heard the Lord proclaim to Nicodemus and to the whole world that God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world but to save it. We also heard that such salvation comes from faith, for whoever believes in Christ does not enter into judgment. Such a message should really dissolve an discord and unite us in thanks to God night and day. The whole world should jump and dance for joy. But, as it happens, the world cannot endure this message. If a man will not bear the proclamation of good news, how could he endure the announcement of misfortune, that is, of the fact that he is damned and lost?
Now the joyful message follows that the judgment is over; this means that the wrath of God, hell, and damnation are no more. For the Son of God came that we might be saved and delivered from death and hell. Then what is still lacking? Faith. People refuse to believe this. God gives His Son to save the world; but the world says: “It is not true that the world is steeped in sin and is damned.” This is a pity.
Luther's Works, Vol. 22 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4. pg. 382

Anonymous said...

Taking this quote out of context is particularly deceiving since Luther is talking about the spoken Word - not the atonement.

Here we have the true significance of the keys. They are an office, a power or command given by God through Christ to all of Christendom for the retaining and remitting of the sins of men. For so Christ says in Matt. 9[:6], “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins,” and he says to the paralytic, “arise,” etc. And soon thereafter, “When the crowd saw it … they praised God who had given such authority to men” [Matt. 9:8]. Do not allow yourself to be led astray by this Pharisaic babbling by which some deceive themselves, saying, “How can a man forgive sins when he can bestow neither grace nor the Holy Spirit?” Rely on the words of Christ and be assured that God has no other way to forgive sins than through the spoken Word, as he has commanded us. If you do not look for forgiveness through the Word, you will gape toward heaven in vain for grace, or (as they say), for a sense of inner forgiveness.
But if you speak as the factious spirits and sophists do: “After all, many hear of the binding and loosing of the keys, yet it makes no impression on them and they remain unbound and without being loosed. Hence, there must exist something else beside the Word and the keys. It is the spirit, the spirit, yes, the spirit that does it!” Do you believe he is not bound who does not believe in the key which binds? Indeed, he shall learn, in due time, that his unbelief did not make the binding vain, nor did it fail in its purpose. Even he who does not believe that he is free and his sins forgiven shall also learn, in due time, how assuredly his sins were forgiven, even though he did not believe it. St. Paul says in Rom. 3[:3]: “Their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God.” We are not talking here either about people’s belief or disbelief regarding the efficacy of the keys. We realize that few believe. We are speaking of what the keys accomplish and give.
Luther's Works, Vol. 40: Church and Ministry II. pg. 366

David Jay Webber said...

The controversy in the Missouri Synod over objective justification - involving Walter Maier, Robert Preus, Kurt Marquart, and others - was eventualy settled by the agreement of all parties to the truth of this statament:

"When the Lord Jesus was 'justified' (I Timothy 3:16) in His resurrection and exaltation, God acquitted Him not of sins of His own, but of all the sins of mankind, which as the Lamb of God He had been bearing (John 1:29), and by the imputation of which He had been 'made...to be sin for us' (II Corinthians 5:21), indeed 'made a curse for us' (Galatians 3:13). In this sense the justification of Jesus was the justification of those whose sins He bore. The treasure of justification or forgiveness gained by Christ for all mankind is truly offered, given, and distributed in and through the Gospel and Sacraments of Christ."

Kurt Marquart suggested before he died that this approach, with the use of Rom. 4:25 and 1 Tim. 3:16 as sedes, could hopefully bring peace ane clarity to the larger world of Confessional Lutheranism on this matter, where both overstatements (e.g. the Kokomo statements) and understatements (e.g. Pastor Rydecki's statements on this blog) have unfortunately been made. Marquart wrote:

"A contemporary clarification of justification would have to begin with what the
Formula of Concord calls 'the only essential and necessary elements of justification,' that
is, (1) the grace of God, (2) the merit of Christ, (3) the Gospel which alone offers and
distributes these treasures, and (4) faith which alone receives or appropriates them (SD
III.25). The first three items define the universal/general dimension of justification
(forgiveness as obtained for all mankind on the cross, proclaimed in the resurrection [see
Rom 4:25 and 1 Tim 3:16] and offered to all in the means of grace), and the fourth, the
individual/personal dimension. No one actually has forgiveness unless and until he
receives it by faith."

"Objective justification" is most properly seen, then, as a "vicarious justification." It is to and for all men, because the sins of all men were carried to the cross. In his suffering and death, Jesus stood in the place of all men. In his resurrection, and in the justification that was declared to him in and through his resurrection, he likewise stood in the place of all men.

This is an important part of what defines the content of the objectively true Gospel that is now to be preached to all men so that they can believe it for their salvation. This is not in any way a substitute for that preaching, or for that faith, but is a prerequisite for it.

Daniel Baker said...

Mr. Peeler,

First, let me apologize if I caused you offense in my preceding comment(s). I tend to be very polemic when I debate; this undoubtedly stems from nearly a decade of experience in online discussion forums. Regardless, I admit that some of my insinuations may have been unwarranted. I do not wish for you to discontinue participation in this discussion, as I think it is vital for us to examine these matters as brothers in what is supposed to be a united Confessional body. As such, we should examine your deferral to the Lutheran Fathers in some depth.

At first glance, some of the citations you’ve provided do appear to support the longevity of the UOJ position. However, when examined in a broader context, their usefulness in supporting your contention may be legitimately questioned. Let’s take a comprehensive look at each quotation in the order you provided: (note: I apparently wrote/quoted a larger quantity of material than I realized, which means I have to divide my comments into multiple posts. Now I understand why Mr. Lindee is always continuing into the next comment ;)

Your first quote is taken from Edwald M. Plass’ anthological work *What Luther Says* (p. 608). Taken in its full context, his citation reads as follows: “Isaiah here [53:11] uses the word 'many' for the word 'all,' after the manner of Paul in Rom. 5:15. The thought there is: One has sinned (Adam), One is righteous (Christ), and many are made righteous. There is no difference between 'many' and 'all.' The righteousness of Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, our Lord and Savior, is so great that it could justify innumerable worlds. 'He shall justify many,' says he, that is to say, all. It should, therefore, be understood of all, because He offers his righteousness to all, and all who believe in Christ obtain it.”

According to Plass’ commentary, he cited this quote to show that Luther firmly believed the universality of grace is a central tenet of Scripture, particularly emphasizing its appearance in both Testaments. However, if we look closely at the quote itself, Luther is not saying that the universality of God’s grace implies that He has also imputed Christ’s righteousness to the whole world, nor is he saying that the world is absolved of guilt. Luther says that “it could justify innumerable worlds” and “He shall justify many/all,” but in what context? In the context of “all who believe and obtain it.” He says that Christ “offers his righteousness to all.” Again, Luther does not say here that all have righteousness – he says the Christ offers it, but one has to obtain it in order for it to become a reality. Of course, we know from Luther’s other works (cf. his Explanation of the Third Article) that he is no Arminian! Therefore, by saying that one must “believe” in Christ to “obtain” the righteousness He offers, Luther is implying nothing other than that the Holy Spirit must enlighten dead hearts with the truth of the Gospel – the Means of Grace.

----

Your next quote I found in *Selected Writings of Martin Luther, Volume 1* (p. 147), translated by T. G. Tappert. The particular sentence you are quoting comes from one of Luther’s refutations of Latomus, a papist theologian who was renown for refuting Protestant teaching. In this particular discourse, Luther is discussing Holy Baptism and, specifically, the existence of sin in the regenerate and their works after receiving the same sacrament. In so doing, he observes the following:

(continued in next comment)

Daniel Baker said...

(continued from previous comment)

"The motion of anger and evil desire is exactly the same in the godly and the godless, the same before grace and after grace, just as the flesh is the same before grace and after grace; but in grace it can do nothing, while outside of grace it gets the upper hand. Because of this Paul says in Rom. 8 [:2], 'For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.' Why does he not say that, 'It has set me free from sin and death?' Has Christ not set us free from sin and death once and for all? Paul, however, is speaking of the proper operation of the law of the Spirit, which does what Christ has merited. Christ once and for all absolved and freed everyone from sin and death when He merited for us the law of the Spirit of the Life. But what did that Spirit of Life do? He has not yet freed us from death and sin, for we still must die, we still must labor under sin; but in the end He will free us. Yet He has already liberated us from the law of sin and death, that is, from the kingdom of tyranny of sin and death. Sin is indeed present, but having lost its tyrannic power, it can do nothing; death indeed impends, but having lost its sting, it can neither harm nor terrify. These then are the two places in which Paul calls 'sin' that evil which remains after baptism."

When the sentence you quote is placed in this context, it seems to me that Luther is talking about those to whom the “Spirit of Life” has been given – that is, the baptized. Obviously, as Luther rightly points out, we are not freed from sin and death on earth – but we are freed from their power. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). Conversely, the unregenerate, since they have not been united with Christ, are also not freed from the power of sin and death, because they are very much under the Law. If the sentence you are quoting were applied to the unregenerate, it would completely contradict the context of the preceding section, as well as Luther’s train of thought in the paragraphs that follow:

“What then, are we sinners? No, rather we are justified, but by grace. Righteousness is not situated in those qualitative forms, but in the mercy of God. In fact, if you remove mercy from the godly, they are sinners and really have sin, but it is not imputed to them because they believe and live under the reign of mercy, and because sin is condemned and continually put to death in them. This is a most glorious pardon which comes through baptism. Surely, if you look at it carefully, it is almost greater to accept as righteous him who is still infected by sin than him who is entirely pure. [However], it must not therefore be said that baptism does not remove all sins; it indeed removes all, but not their substance. The power of all, and much of the substance, are taken away. Day by day the substance is removed so that it may be utterly destroyed. I am neither the first nor the only man to say this since the [days of the] Apostle. Augustine's words are these: 'All sin is forgiven in baptism, not so that it no longer exists, but so that it is no longer imputed.' Do you hear? Even after forgiveness there is still sin, but it is not imputed."

This portion of the text is very poignant: it says that baptism literally forgives sins and no longer imputes them to man. Please especially note that it does not make the insinuation that sin was no longer imputed to humanity on Calvary; rather, it says that sin no longer applies to the Baptized.

----
(continued in next comment)

Daniel Baker said...

(continued from previous comment)

The next excerpt is drawn from *Luther’s Works* (tr. H. T. Lehmann, Volume 22, pp. 381ff), specifically his sermons on St. John’s Gospel. Since this particular quotation is actually a compilation of three different sections from throughout one particular sermon, it would be most pertinent to individually consider the context of each section you separate by ellipses. Starting with the first:

“The last time we heard the Lord proclaim to Nicodemus and to the whole world that God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world but to save it [cf. John 3:17]. We also heard that such salvation comes from faith, for whoever believes in Christ does not enter into judgment [cf. John 3:18]. Such a message should really dissolve all discord and unite us in thanks to God night and day. The whole world should jump and dance for joy."

It is indeed very true that the whole world should be very glad that salvation by grace through faith is available to all of mankind. However, Luther goes on to point out that, “as it happens, the world cannot endure this message. If a man will not bear the proclamation of good news, how could he endure the announcement of misfortune, that is, of the fact that he is damned and lost?”

The next portion of your citation is contextualized as follows:

“Now the joyful message follows that the judgment is over; this means that the wrath of God, hell, and damnation are no more. For the Son of God came that we might be saved and delivered from death and hell. Then what is still lacking? Faith. People refuse to believe this. God gives His Son to save the world; but the world says: 'It is not true that the world is steeped in sin and is damned.' This is a pity. Therefore the text continues:
[John 3:]19. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light. As though Christ wished to say: 'Whoever believes, does not go to hell; whoever does not believe, already has the sentence of death pronounced on him.' Why? Well, because he does not believe in Christ.”

God certainly will cancel the charge of anyone who believes, and He offers it to all; but some reject or are ignorant of this fact, willfully bound to the Law of sin and death. Regrettably, as Christ says, these people are condemned already. Note that Luther and the Gospel do not state that God has declared these people not guilty; He offers that verdict to them, if they would only believe (an ability which, of course, God also provides).

Following the final ellipse, your quotation ends as follows: “Christ came and removed the sin of the world so completely that it is entirely deleted, entirely forgiven."

Now, I am not capable of reading the original language here. The rendition of the text I am drawing from (via Google Books) has the sentence written as you cite it. However, an alternate translation renders this portion of the text as: “Christ has come and has taken away the world’s sin, that it should be completely removed and wiped out, entirely forgotten” (Rev. D. J. Webber, http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.justificationquotes.html). I would encourage the scholars of the original language to provide us with some insight in this regard.

However, let’s put the translation issue aside for a moment and consider the greater context of this section. Luther precedes this particular quotation with an analogy:

(continued in next comment)

Daniel Baker said...

(continued from previous comment)

“What would we think of a prisoner who reviles a king, prince, or lord offering to release him from captivity and to shower him with benefactions? What would we think of this prisoner if he were to spit on his benefactor, berate him with scurrilous words, and harm or kill him? Yet the spiritual madness of refusing the help proffered us by the Son of God is ten times worse. Should our God not become angry and let hellish fire, brimstone, and pitch rain down on such ingratitude? Over and above being sinners, we are so depraved that we reject help and even persecute and kill those who urge us to accept the help. This saying is applicable to us: ‘Whoever frees another from the gallows often finds that he would like to hang him up there again.’
It is expressly stated here that Christ came and removed the sin of the world so completely that it is entirely deleted, entirely forgiven. But to refuse the Helper, to refuse to hear the Man who abolishes sin, and, more than this, to want to kill Him and to persevere in sin - that is vile and base. It is terrible to hear this proclamation, which brings remission of sin and release from death, maligned as heresy and to see this Helper persecuted. We preach this every day, and that is what goes on. I did not suck these words out of my finger; no, you hear that this is spoken by Christ Himself. Nevertheless, it is decried as heresy. Should our God not become angry? Should He not dispatch pestilence, famine, pope, Turk, Tartars, Sacramentarians, Anabaptists, and all sorts of sectaries to plague us? Our refusal to accept the Son surely deserves such punishment. It is terrible to proclaim that one should not accept and love a Helper and Savior who remits sin. Whoever acts this way and becomes ungrateful to God has a right to expect God to punish him with Turks, Tartars, and Anabaptists, and that schismatic spirits, sectaries, and false brethren will rain and snow down on him. Now this is not a harmful message; it is one that helps and saves. Still it is despised by nearly all, particularly by the pope, who tramples it underfoot.”

Pay close attention to the closing sentiments. Here, Luther seems to be decrying the apostasy found in the Church of his day. What was the major assault on justification during that period? Even UOJ adherents admit that the reason their doctrine is not expressed in the Lutheran Confessions is because the papacy was assaulting the so-called subjective nature of justification through faith. If that is the case, it seems to me that Luther in this context is assaulting the papal misconception of justification; namely, the insinuation that humankind has to contribute something to our justification by means of indulgence and good works. It would make the most sense, in my opinion, to apply this section in the context of Christ’s ability to cover sin without our help, rather than in some sort of blanket forgiveness for those who are damned. To illustrate this further, consider Luther’s final sentiments in the compilation of this particular sermon:

(continued in next comment)

Daniel Baker said...

(continued from previous comment)

“This is what Christ means when He asserts here: 'This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world.' As if He were to say: 'It is a grand and blessed light which shines into your hearts and says: "Fear not the wrath of God, for God is gracious to you." Even if your sin and your conscience plague and oppress you and you stand in awe of God’s judgment, you must realize that all has been changed and that judgment has been abolished. Instead of harboring fear of the Final Judgment you must yearn and long for it, since it does not denote your judgment at all but your redemption.' At that time we shall be delivered from the last enemy, death (1 Cor. 15:26); our bodies will rise again from the grave. Devil, death, and worms will cease; and God’s disfavor will end. This judgment will draw you from the grave and deliver you from all evil. Therefore the Day of Judgment will be a time of rejoicing for you, far more so than the wedding day is for the bride; for this terrible Day has been converted into a happy and desirable Day for you. Thus all is well if you believe. But those who love darkness more than light will experience the reverse. They must live in dread of the Last Day. For the believer, the thought of this Day is comforting, since condemnation and the terrible judgment are gone.”

Consider who the “you” in Luther’s hypothetical statements are: those who believe. According to Luther's closing sentence, it is only for believers that the threat of judgment has been abolished. To those who do not believe, all the opposite is experienced. While God offers His grace to them, His wrath is still on them. Judgment toward them has not been abolished for, as Luther says, they experience “the reverse.” They must live in dread of the Great Judgment. Note that Luther does not offer them blanket forgiveness – throughout the sermon he has only the highest contempt for those who reject and spurn Christ. Thus, the entire Lutheran approach to preaching and teaching – tear down with the Law and build up with the Gospel – is confirmed in this context. Luther’s paradigm with regard to a forgiven and absolved world is only offered to those who already believe – those who have already received the Gospel. If Luther offers forgiveness to the unregenerate, I’m not seeing it in this particular sermon.

----

Concerning your final quotation of Luther, which pertains to the Use of the Keys and an analogy of a king and the gift of a castle, I do not have access to the original source material. As such, I will defer to either Pr. Rydecki, who illuminated me with regard to this particular selection, or to Mr. Joe Krohn, who provided a venerable response to it in the comments section of his own blog (cf. http://hereistand2011.blogspot.com/2011/07/wash-rinse-repeatthe-righteousness-of.html?showComment=1309993614541#c1055044971849595011).

As for the Gerhard and Calov citations, I take no exception to either, assuming they are actually penned by the credited authors (i.e. I do not have the original context for either work). Regardless, unless someone proves otherwise, I must assume that in both references the “us” refers to believers. Through our Baptisms, we are most certainly crucified, buried, and raised with Christ - and justified by virtue of the same. That, at least, is how I interpret those particular sources.

Mr. Peeler, I hope that my comments have satisfactorily examined the citations you offered and that reading them has not been too daunting or cumbersome. I also hope that my words have been intelligible; I have devoted a number of hours to examining these varied sources, but I must admit that their variety and complexity might exceed my ability to understand or correctly articulate a response. I am open to the correction or expansion of anything I have written.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pastor Webber. The statement you provided is exactly what I have been trying to confess, however imperfectly. I very much like the term "vicarious justification" since the word "objective" seems to carry so much baggage.

By the way, here are the references to the quotations I provided above (which, incidentally, were originally compiled by Pastor Webber on LutherQuest):

1. Explanation of Isaiah 53, quoted in What Luther Says, p. 608

2. Against Latomus, Luther's Works, Vol. 32, p. 207

3. Sermons on the Gospel of St. John, Luther's Works, Vol. 22, pp. 381-85

4. The Keys, Luther's Works, Vol. 40, pp. 366-67

5. Annotationes in Epist. ad Rom. [Jena, 1666], p. 156

6. Bibl. Illust., ad Rom. 4:25

Now, in providing those references, let me immediately point out that the context of some of those quotations also includes a discussion of the fact that we receive the benefits of Christ's work through faith. I don't want any of my opponents to come here triumphantly claiming, "Aha! But Luther in the very next sentence talks about faith!" Of course he does! I have never denied the importance of faith. It's only natural to follow a discussion of objective/vicarious justification with a discussion of subjective justification. This doesn't negate, however, our Luther fathers' very clear confession of objective/vicarious justification.

Mr. Adam Peeler

David Jay Webber said...

By the way, I do not concede that the "objective" side of justification is not taught in the Confessions. With the understanding that forgiveness and justification are essentially synonymous in meaning, the quotation from St. Ambrose quoted approvingly in Apology IV:103 teaches it most clearly.

Anonymous said...

Well, it looks like I was too late with with my anti-Aha! disclaimer. Yes, Mr. Baker, I fully concede that in the broader context of those quotations, the Lutheran fathers describe how we receive the benefits of Christ's work through faith. But that's not at issue. No one is denying this.

You seem to believe that a reference to subjective justification necessarily contradicts and overrules any reference to objective justification, when that simply isn't the case. The two are not mutually exclusive, they are closely related. That's why the Lutheran fathers move so easily from one to the other without seeing any contradiction.

Nor do I understand how you can explain away every reference to "us" in those quotations by saying that "us" must refer to believers. In context it is clear that "us" refers to the entire world. In fact, reading "us/our" as "believers" in some of these quotations results in our Lutheran fathers teaching a limited atonement, since there is a parallel construction between "our sins" and "our justification".

Besides, even if you were to understand Gerhard's "us", for example, to refer only to believers, that still doesn't support your argument. Gerhard says that Christ's resurrection is the completion of our justification. This directly and specifically contradicts the assertion of you and Pastor Rydecki that justification is not a Second Article doctrine. Whether you want to interpret the "us" as "the world" or "believers", Gerhard's point is still that justification, in one sense, is only and exclusively a Second Article doctrine--that Christ's work 2000 years ago, specifically his resurrection, completes justification.

I'm sorry, but the words of our Lutheran fathers clearly and decisively teach an objective/vicarious justification. Rather than twisting their words to try to win an argument, I would encourage you simply to read them again with an open mind.

Mr. Adam Peeler

LutherRocks said...

Pastor Webber...I don't think it is fair to say Pastor Rydecki is understating. Unless he has changed his stance, he said those very kinds of things similar to Marquart earlier this year in June on this blog as well as mine.

Joe Krohn

Anonymous said...

By the way, Mr. Baker, I noticed in your lengthy rebuttal of our Lutheran fathers, that you repeatedly used words like "possible" and "available" to describe salvation. Without realizing it, you have begun to talk like the pope. The pope also likes to talk about how Christ made salvation possible. The only difference is that he would say "Christ made salvation possible, now you just need to complete it by your good works", while you seem to be saying "Christ made salvation possible, now you just need to complete it by your faith." Like I noted to Pastor Rydecki about 50 comments ago, your side is coming dangerously close to saying that faith and/or the Means of Grace in and of themselves effect or cause or complete our salvation. Gerhard argues strenuously against this when he makes the point that Christ completed our justification 2000 years ago when he rose from the dead.

Adam

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Adam, no time to comment thoroughly today, but please stop demonizing Daniel and others with your "logic" that places him "dangerously close" to the pope. Such demonizing will not be tolerated. Daniel has not said anything even remotely close to papal. He has done a very good job at presenting the facts. He has not in ANY way implied that man must come up with the "rest" of his salvation. You are doing him and the rest of us a great injustice by implying this, and you are making discussion impossible on this topic. Please stop.

Instead, get back to the Scriptures. Or if you want to argue with anything, please take up my analogy from before about Christ being given his own innocent verdicts to hand out through the Means of Grace. Is that a bad analogy? Is it an "understatement" as Fr. Webber has implied (unless he was referring to something else, I don't know).

And also, please address my questions before about why the apostles never preached like this, announcing to people that they had already been saved/justified/forgiven, instead of what they actually did: Call people to repentance and faith so that they may be saved/justified/forgiven through faith in the complete righteousness and atonement of Christ Jesus.

David Jay Webber said...

"...please address my questions before about why the apostles never preached like this, announcing to people that they had already been saved/justified/forgiven, instead of what they actually did: Call people to repentance and faith so that they may be saved/justified/forgiven through faith in the complete righteousness and atonement of Christ Jesus."

Pr. Rydecki,

Mr. Peeler has already indicated (if I am understanding him correctly) that he would not agree with some of the poor ways of preaching "objective justification" that are out there, and that you criticize. I think he hit the nail on the head when he wrote this:

"It seems to me that the whole problem is created when people try to speak about objective justification using inherently subjective terminology. When speaking of objective justification, one cannot speak of particular individuals or groups (e.g. people in hell). Once you start talking about individuals, you have, by definition, crossed the line from objective to subjective. When speaking about objective justification, one must use only objective terms (like "mankind"). When speaking about subjective justification, one must only use subjective terms (like "me, you, them," etc). If people would keep that straight and speak precisely, much of the whole justification issue would evaporate."

And if my opinion is worth anything, I also don't think Mr. Peeler was "demonizing" anyone in his observations about certain phrasings that sound close to heterodox forms of teaching. We are instructed by St. Paul to adhere to "the pattern of sound words," to avoid false teaching, and to avoid the impression that we may be approaching or agreeing with false teaching.

I have also observed that in many cases, when those who reject the concept of objective/vicarious justification are then asked to explain positively what they do believe, their explanations do sometimes sound synergistic. And that does not surprise me, because the "objective/subjective" terminology was developed in the 19th century precisely to counteract a synergistic form of teaching on the nature of Holy Absolution that was current among certain Scandinavian Lutherans.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me the debate is not over the righteousness and merits of Christ. That appears to me to be what both sides are agreed on. The question is, "Is faith in the mercy and merits of Christ necessary and essential for the justification of the sinner?"

"Is anyone justified without faith/before faith?"

Studying this in the confessions (Formula of Concord: Solid Declaration, art. iii, par. 22) I came across this:
"But when we teach that through the operation of the Holy Ghost we are born anew and justified, the sense is not that after regeneration no unrighteousness clings any more to the justified and regenerate in their being and life, but that Christ covers all their sins which nevertheless in this life still inhere in nature with His complete obedience. But irrespective of this they are declared and regarded godly and righteous by faith and for the sake of Christ’s obedience (which Christ rendered the Father for us from His birth to His most ignominious death upon the cross), although, on account of their corrupt nature, they still are and remain sinners to the grave [while they bear about this mortal body]. Nor, on the other hand, is this the meaning, that without repentance, conversion, and renewal we might or should yield to sins, and remain and continue in them."

I don't know how else to read that than to attribute justification to the work of the Holy Spirit (who connects us to Christ and all of his 2nd article work).

David Brandt

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pr. Webber,

You know your opinion is worth something among us at Intrepid Lutherans. I agree with what you wrote earlier about the vicarious nature of the justification that is being described as "objective." In fact, if memory serves, I believe I suggested that term to you in a recent conversation (not to imply that it's new with me or that you didn't already understand it this way).

I also agree that it is important that Holy Absolution be understood correctly as the very conferring of forgiveness to the penitent.

What bothers me most is the very phrase that has been suggested earlier in this thread, and which I would say MOST people would readily use today, based on their understanding of "objective justification." I'm referring to this presentation of the "Gospel": "You're already forgiven/justified. You were forgiven 2000 years ago. Believe it!"

That I cannot tolerate as "the pattern of sound words," as it flies in the face of all that the apostles and Christ himself taught.

As I said above, I could tolerate and even rejoice in the saying that "You have already been forgiven/justified" IF the speaker is referring to Holy Baptism. Not that it should ever substitute the ongoing need for Absolution and the Sacrament, but in the context of baptism, it is used correctly.

You and I probably still disagree about this, but I feel that the novel terminology developed to combat synergism was never wise in the first place. Novel presentations of the Gospel - especially presentations that would appear to reverse the apostolic preaching of the same - can only result in damage to the Church. Perhaps the damage is small at first, but it eventually gets far worse.

I still don't think there was ever anything deficient about Chemnitz's presentation of the doctrine of justification. Many people have scolded me for not allowing the "logical inconsistency" between the objective/subjective justification. But where I believe the logical inconsistency really lies is at the point of conversion. The Gospel requires faith. Justification requires faith. The synergist says, "Man must come up with this faith to complete his justification." The UOJ fanatic says, "In order to avoid synergism, we must say that a person's righteous status before God is already a reality, apart from faith. Faith doesn't complete anything, it just realizes what's already true."

The correct Scriptural teaching is actually quite illogical, but must be maintained. Unrightous man is called upon to repent and believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Man cannot and will not do this. But the Holy Spirit works faith in man, when and where it pleases him, and that man is thus justified. He is not justified at any time before. The unbeliever is at fault for disbelieving; the Holy Spirit is responsible for the faith of the man who believes.

Daniel Baker said...

Mr. Peeler,

Earlier in this discussion, you wrote the following endorsement of Pr. Webber's "middle-ground" comment:

"Thank you, Pastor Webber. The statement you provided is exactly what I have been trying to confess, however imperfectly. I very much like the term 'vicarious justification' since the word 'objective' seems to carry so much baggage."

Likewise, Pr. Rydecki expressed his consent in reference to the same: "I agree with what you wrote earlier about the vicarious nature of the justification that is being described as 'objective.' In fact, if memory serves, I believe I suggested that term to you in a recent conversation (not to imply that it's new with me or that you didn't already understand it this way)."

I, too, agree with Pr. Webber's terminology and explanation of the objective/subjective nature of justification. However, I am startled by his reference to Pr. Rydecki's position as an "understatement" in this context. The comments of both seem to be in agreement here. Likewise, I do not understand why you refer to Pr. Rydecki as a "false teacher on the subect of justification," when you have both claimed agreement to the same statement. The only conclusion that one can draw is that either you or Pr. Rydecki, in fact, do not agree with Pr. Webber's "middle-ground" comment.

You have called me papal for saying that Christ's work of atonement and subsequent resurrection from the dead make justification available to all people. This is what Pr. Webber also says - in Christ, the justification for all sins exists, because He was justified from all sin when he rose from the dead. Even Pr Webber uses the word "offered."

Likewise, you have lambasted the notion that forgiveness is only available or offered to people through the Means of Grace, rather than actually declared, and yet Pr. Webber states very plainly that "No one actually has forgiveness unless and until he receives it by faith."

So, Mr. Peeler, rather than forever storming away from Intrepid Lutherans due to perceived heresy, I urge you to do the loving thing and specifically show us how we are in disagreement with the orthodox position illustrated by Pr. Webber.

David Jay Webber said...

Pr. Rydecki,

You write that according to the "Biblical doctrine of justification," the "innocent verdict has not been proclaimed upon all. It has been proclaimed upon Christ as the substitute for all, to be distributed by authorized messengers through the Means of Grace, and is received by faith. This is the whole picture of justification."

I would say that this is an example of your "understating" the doctrine of justification, because this is not in fact "the whole picture of justification."

If righteousness has been proclaimed upon humanity's substitute, then righteousness has in fact been proclaimed upon humanity. In the resurrection of Christ, as he stood in the place of all humanity, he was justified. That is, he was declared to be righteous and was vindicated as the representative of all humanity. This means that in him, and in his resurrection, all humanity was thereby justified. In him all humanity was declared to be righteous and was vindicated.

This is Kurt Marquart and Robert Preus's way of explaining "objective justification." This clear and precise manner of teaching it arose in the context of a protracted and often confusing controversy. But that controversy was settled, and this is the way they settled it. I think we can and should benefit from their hard work and simply endorse what they said, because I believe that what they ended up saying was the truth.

This truth flows into the Gospel and contributes toward making the Gospel to be an objectively true and complete Gospel. Within the framework of the preaching of law and Gospel to individuals, individuals are now invited to believe this truth and to be saved by it.

continued...

David Jay Webber said...

...continued

If you do actually agree with Kurt Marquart's proposal that this approach is the best way to unravel all the confusion - for all Confessional Lutherans, including WELS - then I would not expect you to reject objective justification as a concept, but to reject only the sloppy and misleading way in which it has sometimes been preached and taught. I would expect you to affirm the intent behind the "objective justification" terminology (even if you don't like the terminology) as being a valid explanation of what happened for all people in the resurrection of our Savior.

Also, depending on the context, "justification" and "forgiveness" are indeed sometimes synonymous with (or at least parallel with) "regeneration" (as the Confessions state), but sometimes they are not. The St. Ambrose quotation in Apology IV to which I referred earlier is, I think, one of the best examples in the Confessions of when this is not the case.

St. Ambrose teaches the objective side of justification/forgiveness in these words:

"...when the Lord Jesus came he forgave all men the sin that none could escape and by shedding his blood canceled the bond that stood against us (Col. 2:14). ... For after the whole world was subjected, he took away the sin of the whole world, as John testified when he said (John 1:29), 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"

And St. Ambrose teaches the subjective side of justification/forgiveness in these words:

"...no one is justified by his deeds. But he who is righteous has it as a gift because he was justified after being washed [in Baptism]. It is faith therefore that frees men through the blood of Christ; for 'blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered' (Ps. 32:1)."

"Objective justification" is not properly taught as a stand-alone doctrine. It should always be presented in conjunction with, and as a prelude to, "subjective justification." That's why one will almost always find references to faith and to the necessity of faith - for the appropriation of justification - in close textual proximity to those places in the writings of Luther and in the Confessions where the objective side of justification has also been acknowledged.

LutherRocks said...

You had me at hello...Pr. Webber, your earlier post that I blogged earlier today was sufficient. You have laid down the proverbial smoke screen once again...error loves ambiguity, doesn't it? I am glad to be out of this mess called the WELS and its fellowship with ELS. At least I can understand the LC-MS regarding this issue. May the Lord have mercy on all y'alls...

David Jay Webber said...

Joe,

Please read the previously-quoted paragraph that was agreed to by Preus, Marquart, and Maier, very carefully. If you do, you will see that my most recent post simply draws attention to what that paragraph actually says, namely, that in Jesus' resurrection and exaltation "God acquitted him of all the sins of mankind," and that "the justification of Jesus was the justification of those whose sins he bore." In other words, the justification of Jesus was the justification of "mankind."

If you understand this, then you do indeed "understand the LC-MS regarding this issue." Otherwise not.

LutherRocks said...

No Pastor Webber...I do not believe that is what LCMS is saying. Your interpretation "In other words..." leaves the door open for what guys like Patterson are preaching and you are protecting them by twisted words. My new pastor would not preach as such and has told me so.

Joe

David Jay Webber said...

Joe,

Would your new pastor not say, as a component of the Gospel that he preaches, that Jesus bore the sins of all mankind? Would your new pastor not say, as a component of the Gospel that he preaches, that the "justification" of Jesus in his resurrection was vicariously the justification of those whose sins he bore?

We cannot dilute the law or the Gospel in fear that someone somewhere may misconstrue, or improperly explain, the law or the Gospel. The law is to be preached in its full severity, and the impenitent are to be warned that they are outside of Christ and therefore do not partake of any of the blessings that Christ won. And the Gospel is to be preached in its full sweetness and saving power. The penitent and believing are to be comforted that in Christ they receive and enjoy all the blessings of Christ's finished work.

Can you imagine a situation where, in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, someone would say that we should not tell people that there is only one God, since they might misunderstand that and become Muslims or Unitarians? Or that we should not tell people that there are three distinct Divine Persons, since they might misunderstand that and become tri-theists?

So too, we cannot minimize the completeness of the Gospel, and the full meaning of the finished work of Christ for humanity's salvation, just because we fear that some might confuse law and Gospel in the way they explain this, or because we fear that some might clumsily present the Gospel as if it were something that can be received, and benefitted from, without repentance and faith.

John Gerhard articulated a principle that should be kept in mind by all of us - clergy and laity - as we discuss things like this, which can too easily be misunderstood if they are not explained carefully. He wrote:

"It is wicked to interpret a poor choice of words as error, when you know that the right meaning was intended."

This should be kept in mind when a person who is trying to explain the completedness of the Lord's saving work for all mankind may sound to some like a universalist, or when a person who is trying to explain the necessity of repentance and faith may sound to some like a synergist. These are times for fraternal and patient discussion, to seek clarification, in the spirit of what Gerhard says.

LutherRocks said...

Pastor Webber...Is it correct teaching to say that before we do anything; even before we are born, we are forgiven? This has been stated on more than one occasion by Holy Word. I don't think I am interpreting in error. I have also asked now for the third time for a clarification on where OJ is in Genesis 15. Moderators, please let this go through.

Joe

David Jay Webber said...

Joe,

I do not intend to get into an online public conversation about the specific issues of a specific situation, in regard to which I know very little concerning context and intent; in regard to which I have no formal oversight responsibility; and in regard to which I have not been asked to get involved pastorally and mediatorially by one or both parties. And if I did have oversight responsibility for an individual case, or if I were asked to become involved pastorally in an individual case, I would not carry out those responsibilities or that involvement on the Internet.

But as a statement of general principles, which I am willing to state online, I would refer you once again to my last post.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Joe,

I agree with Pr. Webber that this isn't the appropriate forum to address the specific actions of your former congregation. Let me share a reply that I recently sent to someone who once asked us to get involved here on the blog in an unrelated situation:

There is certainly a time and a place to call men on the carpet. If a pastor sins publicly in his congregation, it should be addressed publicly within his congregation, and he should be rebuked publicly (1 Tim. 5:20). But how “public” should his rebuke be? Certainly “public” enough to include anyone who has seen or been affected by or is likely to be affected by the sin, including fellow pastors “that they may fear.”

But what would be the benefit of broadcasting his sin to the whole world? And furthermore, what opportunity does he have to defend himself publicly if blogs around the world choose to start airing accusations against him (founded or unfounded – who knows?), each in its individual forum? You may have your proof, but he may have a defense as well which I know nothing about. And no one has put us at IL in a position to play judge or arbiter in these cases.

The point is, the 8th Commandment is still applicable. It is God’s holy Law. It always applies, just as the 4th Commandment still applies, even if one must, for the sake of the Word of God, disobey a governing authority. The manner of disobedience does not become free, and the call to “honor” still remains.

The 8th Commandment governs even the public accusations that may rightly be brought against a person. Public accusations may be called for, but such accusations do not become free-for-alls in which anything can be said to anyone about anyone, just because there was public sin. Some pastors broadcast their own sins all over the internet, and so we at IL believe the internet is an appropriate forum for bringing accusations against them, although even then, not in the form of ridicule, but in the form of a sober identification of their error and a serious call to repentance, which necessarily means including the individual in the rebuke (as we did in the case of the “Change or Die” conference). But if the sin is not widely known, there is no godly cause to broadcast the man’s sin to Australia.

I don’t mean to minimize any hardship your family has been through, or the seriousness of sins that may have been committed. I’m just in no position to pass judgment, and certainly not to hurl accusations on the internet. We must walk in the fear of God.

Anonymous said...

The proper way to avoid the accusation of "synergism" in justification is to properly understand what faith is, not to remove faith from the equation.

Luther was conscientious of this in his Disputation concerning Justification (1536 AD):

[In regard to the thesis:] If no work justifies, neither does faith justify.
But no work of the law justifies.
Therefore, faith does not justify.
The conclusion is proved, because faith is a work of the first commandment.


Dr. Martin Luther: Although our calling faith a work can be tolerated, nevertheless, those words should be avoided altogether, because they contradict the Scriptures and everything ought to stay in its own place. Faith is indeed called a work in its place, but we ought to avoid it in this doctrine so that faith is not called a work and we should become accustomed to speaking according to Scripture. Faith is not properly referred to as our work according to the Scriptures, but now and then as a kind of work of God. There are two teachings, law and promise; and law and work are correlatives, just as promise and faith are. Therefore, we ought not to call faith works, but faith the faith of promise not a faith of law. Conversely, work is a work of the law, not a work of faith. Accordingly, faith does not look to the law, nor is it a work. For that is properly called a work which belongs to the law. Faith, then, is not a work, since it looks only toward the promise. The promise, however, is that kind of a gift, that we bring nothing to faith, because the promise came earlier and because reason turns away from faith. It is up to God alone to give faith contrary to nature, and ability to believe contrary to reason. That I love God is the work of God alone. Although that I believe is also a work, still it should not be spoken of as a work. We ought to let every word remain in its own category so that the question is not thrown into a complete jumble. Those words should not be confused, since faith is not a work, nor is work faith. But faith is a gift of God and on that account ought not be called a work. Therefore, we should not mix together the words about works and faith. For divine faith is given to him who hears the Word and even to one who struggles against it, if God so willed. Now, then, I briefly respond to the argument as follows: If no work justifies neither does faith justify, that is, insofar as it is a work. But faith is not a work. Accordingly, the syllogism must be changed on account of its ambiguity.

Luther's works, vol. 34: Career of the Reformer IV pg. 159


David Brandt

LutherRocks said...

If I have acted less than respectful here, please tell me. If anyone has caught me in a lie, please tell me. This is a public WELS forum and there is a WELS pastor involved in public preaching. I am fine to let this drop.

But my former inquiry of Pastor Webber was two parted. It is a Biblical question regarding objective justification and how it relates to Abraham in Genesis 15. I posted this today on Luther Rocks and would welcome anyone to weigh in.

"The litmus test at least for me in what you say about justification concludes that it will apply seamlessly to all believers, whether OT or NT with just a simple change in tense. Yes, the Third Article is dependent on the Second Article. Likewise all three articles of the Apostles' Creed are interdependent on one another. But the forgiveness of sins is always in the Third Article.

I have asked on numerous occasions where objective justification resides in the Bible concerning the case of Abraham in Genesis 15. I have never received an answer. Nada. Zip.

I liken the whole debate to the analogy of Jazz music. It can be hard to describe, but you know it when you hear it. Likewise...you know false doctrine when you hear it."

Daniel Baker said...

I have to agree with Joe on the Abraham count - I also empathize with his complaint about having never received an answer. How could Abraham have been forgiven and imputed as not guilty when that declaration had yet to be made? It is illogical.

However, it is not illogical to consider that an omniscient God, foreknowing the sacrifice of Himself that He had planned before the creation of all worlds, could create and strengthen faith in this promise. It is not difficult to understand how this faith, given and sustained by God, is what justifies sinners, by virtue of the promised sacrifice, rather than some potential declaration that had yet to occur.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

I've quoted this before, but I still think it's the best Lutheran answer to your questions, Daniel and Joe, about Abraham.

So that our readers may the better perceive our teaching I shall clearly and broadly describe it. We treat of the forgiveness of sins in two ways. First, how it is achieved and won. Second, how it is distributed and given to us. Christ has achieved it on the cross, it is true. But he has not distributed or given it on the cross. He has not won it in the supper or sacrament. There he has distributed and given it through the Word, as also in the gospel, where it is preached. He has won it once for all on the cross. But the distribution takes place continuously, before and after, from the beginning to the end of the world. For inasmuch as he had determined once to achieve it, it made no difference to him whether he distributed it before or after, through his Word, as can easily be proved from Scripture. But now there is neither need nor time to do so.
If now I seek the forgiveness of sins, I do not run to the cross, for I will not find it given there. Nor must I hold to the suffering of Christ, as Dr. Karlstadt trifles, in knowledge or remembrance, for I will not find it there either. But I will find in the sacrament or gospel the word which distributes, presents, offers, and gives to me that forgiveness which was won on the cross. Therefore, Luther has rightly taught that whoever has a bad conscience from his sins should go to the sacrament and obtain comfort, not because of the bread and wine, not because of the body and blood of Christ, but because of the word which in the sacrament offers, presents, and gives the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for me. Is that not clear enough?
(Luther's Works, Vol. 40, p. 213-214)

LutherRocks said...

Thank you. I was hoping Pr. Webber would come through with that one.


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