Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Polycarp Leyser on the enumeration of causes in justification

Cross-posted from http://www.faithalonejustifies.com/polycarp-leyser-on-the-enumeration-of-causes-in-justification/

Like Chemnitz and Hunnius, Polycarp Leyser also wrote of various "causes" that are involved in the justification of sinners. Like the other orthodox Lutheran theologians, Leyser speaks of faith as the "instrumental cause" of justification. In other words, this is the means by which God justifies sinners. Faith is not the one who justifies sinners (that is, the efficient cause). Nor is it what motivates God to justify sinners (the interior motivating cause), nor is it that which earns the justification of the sinner (the meritorious cause). Instead, the Word of God and the faith to which the Word gives birth are the "how" of justification. All of these "causes" are involved, so to speak of justification as already having "taken place" or "happened" apart from any of these "causes," including the "how" of faith, is, Scripturally speaking, nonsense. As the Apology says in IV:67,

But God cannot be treated with, God cannot be apprehended, except through the Word. Accordingly, justification occurs through the Word, just as Paul says, Rom. 1, 16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise 10, 17: Faith cometh by hearing. And proof can be derived even from this that faith justifies, because, if justification occurs only through the Word, and the Word is apprehended only by faith, it follows that faith justifies.

Or as the Formula of Concord enumerates the causes in SD:III:25 (without using the word "cause"):

For not everything that belongs to conversion belongs likewise to the article of justification, in and to which belong and are necessary only the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and faith, which receives this in the promise of the Gospel, whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, whence we receive and have forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life.

Here is an excerpt from Leyser's larger work, the year after the Book of Concord was first published.

Theological Assertions Concerning the Justification of Man before God
Polycarp Leyser, 1581

The efficient cause of justification is the entire Holy Trinity. For the Father justifies us, in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6).

The interior motivating cause is not any preceding merit of ours, nor any subsequent satisfaction, but only the free and infallible mercy of God, who sees the miseries of the human race, procures their redemption, and freely justifies us without any condition of the law having been fulfilled by us.

The exterior motivating or meritorious cause is the obedience, suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God and of Man, by which He has perfectly made satisfaction to the Law for us, has made atonement for sins, has defeated death, has conquered Satan, and with the gates of Hades having been broken, has freed us for the freedom of the sons of God.

The formal cause is no inhering quality in us, nor is it the essential righteousness of God dwelling in us. But it is the remission of our sins and the righteousness of Christ alone which the heavenly Father imputes to us as our own, and by this He pronounces us to be righteous.

The instrumental cause with regard to God is the ministry of Word and Sacrament, in which God opens His heavenly treasures, hidden in the Son, and offers them to all men without discrimination or condition.

The instrumental cause with regard to us is faith, which acknowledges the fullness of the divine promise about Christ, offered in the Word and sealed in the Sacraments; embraces it with firm assent; and rests in it with great confidence that has no doubt concerning its salvation.

And since no works of the Law, neither preceding nor present nor subsequent, constitute any cause (either of merit or of application), therefore we rightly and piously declare that man is justified by faith alone in Christ.

The final cause of this free justification is not only that the dignity of God’s righteousness may be acknowledged, but also that our consciences, afflicted by sin in general, may have peace before God.

The effects are: adoption as sons of God, regeneration, the indwelling of God, vivification, eternal life, and innumerable other things.


Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

We received this anonymous comment today from someone who calls himself “Lutberstudent.” In any case, he should note our policy about anonymous comments. Only those who are willing to put their name and reputation on the line are allowed to enter the discussion here.

Nonetheless, I post the comment here to demonstrate just how serious this discussion is. He quotes from Polycarp Leyser and then goes on to call Leyser a synergist.

"The instrumental cause with regard to us is faith, which acknowledges the fullness of the divine promise about Christ, offered in the Word and sealed in the Sacraments; embraces it with firm assent; and rests in it with great confidence that has no doubt concerning its salvation."

The above statement is an example of synergism. The bible teaches that man plays no role in salvation. All is the work of God. John 6:29. The cause of salvation is the blood of Christ, not faith. Lev. 17:11. The believer who is made spiritually alive by the Holy Spirit working through the word and regenerated suddenly realizes what is being read or heard to be true. The word enables this realization and trust in tbe word results in faith. Man does not acknowledge. Embrace or assent.

Even though Leyser didn’t attend any of the modern Lutheran seminaries, his doctrine should not be so quickly dismissed. The Lutheran Reformers did actually understand something about Lutheran/Scriptural doctrine.

Notice how toxic Spirit-created faith is to Lutberstudent. He denies that faith acknowledges anything, embraces anything or assents to anything. In his erroneous view, faith simply “realizes” something. In the case of justification, faith is simply supposed to “realize” that everyone is already justified.

This is the grave misunderstanding of UOJ. It assumes that the “Gospel truth” is that everyone is already forgiven and saved and justified, and that this is what is to be preached. Then, if someone “realizes” that he was already justified before he was born, he gets to enjoy it forever in heaven, while all the justified people in hell, since they failed to recognize that they were justified, don’t get to enjoy it.


Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


But this is not how Jesus or the Apostles preached. Christ so extolled the importance of Spirit-worked faith that He even praised faith as that which saved people (e.g., Luke 18:42), not because faith was “synergistic,” not because faith replaced Christ’s merits, but because faith looked to Christ for mercy, and mercy was given through faith.

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: 41 ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’ ” (Acts 13:38-41)

Note above that Paul doesn’t claim that all of his hearers had “already been forgiven” without believing in Christ, but that forgiveness is preached in such a way that everyone who believes in Christ is forgiven and justified.

I wonder if Lutberstudent will accuse Jesus and the Apostle of synergism, since they teach the same thing Leyser taught in the above quote, or if he will accuse the Lutheran Confessions of synergism when they say that faith “lays hold of” something (which is just as strong as “embraces”):

First, in conversion faith is kindled in us by the Holy Spirit from the hearing of the Gospel. Faith lays hold of God’s grace in Christ, by which the person is justified. Then, when the person is justified,… (FC:SD:III:41)

Therefore, it is considered and understood to be the same thing when Paul says (a) we are “justified by faith” (Romans 3:28) or (b) “faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5) and when he says (c) “by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19) or (d) “so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Romans 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 and 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. 14 Therefore, the righteousness that is credited to faith or to the believer out of pure grace is Christ’s obedience, suffering, and resurrection, since He has made satisfaction for us to the Law and paid for ‹expiated› our sins. (FC:SD:III:12-14).

Anonymous said...

Paul Rydecki’s comment 1:
Notice how toxic Spirit-created faith is to Lutherstudent.. justified.

Response 1 – It is true to this extent, all were justified or proclaimed not guilty when Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead. John 1:29 states this fact and to deny it is to make God a liar. I never said “faith is simply supposed to realize everyone is already justified,” what I said was “The word enables this realization and trust in the word results in faith.” Without the Holy Spirit working through the word no one has the opportunity to come to faith and not everyone who reads will come to faith unless they are regenerated, 2 Cor. 4:6. Augustine in his argument with Pelagius said, “Command what thou will, but give what thou commandest.”

Paul Rydecki’s comment 2:
This is the grave misunderstanding of UOJ.. it.

Response 2 – You refer to Universal Objective Justification, the false teaching that all are saved and that is not true nor is it what I said. Objective Justification is what you reject. I already posted my explanation on your website. See your article, The Witch Hunt Has (Officially) Begun comment 32 dated 01/28/2013. This is the main issue here as you deny what 1 John 2:2 states and preach that Christ did not justify man with his blood on the cross, in other words he did not proclaim man not guilty or sin. This is to make God a liar. It is true that for man to benefit from Christ’s sacrifice, a person must recognize what Christ did on the cross and that is accomplished by the Holy Spirit working thought the word. In addition, since you believe that Christ did not proclaim all sinners to be not guilty when he died because they did not have faith at that time, how do you account for forgiving sin in church on Sundays to everyone in the congregation including walkins? That goes against the Bible teaching in Mark 2:7 and 2:10 and is incorrectly granted due to a misinterpretation of John 20:23 that is teaching church discipline, not mans authority to forgive sins. (copied from Roman Catholicism)

We need to address the words, “justify, and justified.” To justify is to free from blame, or to proclaim not guilty. Justification applied with the word, “faith” is the act of becoming free of sin and being made right with God by his righteousness being imputed due to faith. The latter is subjective justification and followings objective justification. It is a two step process for a believer to become fully justified and righteous. This is no different than repent vs. repentance. One is incomplete, the other is complete.

Paul Rydecki’s comment 3- I wonder if Lutherstudent will accuse Jesus and the Apostle of synergism…embraces”):

Response 3 – Book of Concord, Tappert, page 536.77 #4 defines how Synergists apply the words “cooperate, prepare itself for grace, embrace, accept, believe, etc. Last sentence in Book of Concord says, “But we have shown above that such a capacity naturally to prepare oneself for grace does not come from man’s own natural powers…” It should also be noted that even faith is not our ourselves, it is God’s faith as stated in Galatians 2:16.

This article addresses how Luther taught that man is completely passive in conversion.
Donald N. Gretel = Lutherstudent

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Donald, your arguments are so full of fallacies I do not have time to respond to them all.

It is true to this extent, all were justified or proclaimed not guilty when Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead. John 1:29 states this fact and to deny it is to make God a liar.

Here are your first two fallacies. First, you claim that John 1:29 "states the fact" that all were justified when Christ died and rose. You are twisting the words of Scripture and putting words into the inspired writer's pen. "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" is not the same thing as "God pronounced all sinners righteous when Christ died and rose." Read the words. They are different. The Lutheran Confessions treated them differently, one being the atonement/satisfaction Christ made, the other being justification. Please read Article IV of the Augsburg Confession and note the difference. Christ made satisfaction. Sinners are justified when they believe. This is the Lutheran doctrine of justification.

The second and more sinister fallacy above is the "anyone who claims differently makes God a liar." You substitute the actual words of God with your own words, and then claim that anyone who disagrees with your words disagrees with God. There are several names for this logical fallacy and this bully tactic, but I will simply call it idolatry, as you substitute your own words for God's words.

Anonymous said...

You are twisting words, as I never said Christ proclaimed "all sinners righteous when Christ died and rose." I am saying Christ proclaimed all sinners not guilty. Righteousness comes through faith. That is where Subjective Justification enters in and you fail to see it. On my idolatry you better read 1 John 5:10 and Hebrews 1:1, Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. (John 1:29 gave the testimony and the Bible is the inspired word of God; therefore these are not my words!)
Your position is one of Calvinism, limited atonement. You fail to see what 1 John 2:2 says and you want to deny that God proclaimed mankind innocent at the cross. God chose a two step process in his plan of salvation and you want to make it a one step process thereby eliminating the teaching that salvation is open to all. As I said before, faith is useless if forgiveness does not already exist and that is what Objective Justification is all about. 2 Cor. 5:19, Romans 5:10-11. Ephesians 2:8 says we are saved by grace through faith and Romans 4:16 supports it.
Donald N. Gretel

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