Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Comparing Huberianism and Lutheranism on Justification, Part 1

One by one, the pieces of history are stacking up against the claim that the Lutheran Church has "always taught" that God has already justified all people (including all unbelievers).  Aegidius Hunnius, writing for the faculty in Wittenberg, condemned Huber's doctrine in no uncertain terms.

The a priori assertion is made by some that Huber's doctrine of "universal or general justification" has nothing at all to do with the modern version of "universal or general justification."  They claim that the exact same terms are being used for completely different doctrines, and that Hunnius was only writing against Huber's version of universal justification, whereas he (together with the whole Lutheran Church of the 16th Century) would have readily accepted the modern version of universal justification.

This is quite a claim.  I would ask those who stand by this assertion to explain, then, the vast difference between modern "universal justification" and Huber's "universal justification."  From the outset, I would like to include in the parameters for discussion that no one is allowed to use the terms "objective" or "subjective."  We should be able to explain what we mean without using those words.

I offer this simple comparison to get things started:

So, then, we are reconciled (2 Cor. 5:18); however, not only we, but also Hindus, and Hottentots and Kafirs, yes, the world (2 Cor. 5:19). “Reconciled,” says our translation; the Greek original says: “placed in the right relation to God.” Because before the Fall we, together with the whole creation, were in the right relation to God, therefore Scripture teaches that Christ, through His death, restored all things to the former right relation to God. We, then, are redeemed from the guilt of sin; the wrath of God is appeased; all creation is again under the bright rays of Mercy, as in the beginning; yeah, in Christ, we were justified before we were even born. For do not the Scriptures say: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19)? This is not the justification which we receive by faith, but the one which took place before all faith…

Aegidius Hunnius - Theses Opposed to Huberianism
Thesis 1
Huber professes such a justification, for the sake of which Christ has properly, actually and practically conferred redemption on the entire human race in such a way that sins have been equally remitted to all men, including the Turks, and that all men (including unbelievers) have received remission of sins, and that the whole human race has, in actual fact, been received into the grace and bosom of God.

Thesis 20

Huber will never be able to explain his way out of this nonsense of insoluble contradictions and most prodigious absurdities.  Therefore let him enjoy his justification, and let him bless his elect and sanctified people with it – Turks, Jews, and all unbelievers.  We, in the meantime, shall restrict justification to believers only, as prescribed by all prophetic and apostolic Scriptures.


Unknown said...

I agree that some broad formulations of OJ do cross the line into Huberianism. As I see it, there are two key characteristics of Huberianism that also plague these broad formulations of OJ.

The first is the use of the word "conferred". Scripture makes it clear that justification is conferred only through faith.

The second is the mention of "Turks, Hindus, etc". By definition, objective justification is something that occurs only within the sphere of God himself. Once we start bringing others into the picture, we necessarily cross the line into the realm of the subjective.

Thus, if by OJ, one means that justification has been conferred to every individual, then I too reject it.

But, if by OJ, one means that for Christ's sake a declaration has been made purely within the sphere of God, then I uphold it.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. Aaronson,

You write: But, if by OJ, one means that for Christ's sake a declaration has been made purely within the sphere of God, then I uphold it.

In this case, it seems, you're saying that only Christ was Justified, not the World -- presumably on the basis of 1 Tim. 3:16. I know that Rev. Rydecki has not found a strong basis for using this reference in this way in the Lutheran Fathers, but Lenski, certainly, holds that on the basis of the grammar and rhetoric of this section (he refers to this verse as a Confessional Hymn of the Apostle), this is, in fact, the Justification of Christ:

"When and how was Jesus declared righteous? In and by the act of raising him from the dead... him God raised from the dead, him God thereby declared righteous. God's forensic judgment was analytic: Jesus himself was declared Righteous; it was not synthetic: another's righteousness was not imputed to him." (Lenski, R. [1998]. The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessolonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon. Hendrickson [Reprint of Second Printing, 1964, Augsburg Publishing House]. pg. 611).

But what of the justification of individual sinners? Are there, in your version of the doctrine of Justification, TWO justifications, or only ONE? If TWO, then I, for one, will need to see this adduced from Scripture -- stated in direct positive terms. I only read ONE Justification in Scripture. I only read ONE Justification in the Confessions. If ONE, then how is the Justification of the sinner a declaration that is issued to him personally? The ONE Justification was already issued, in this case, to Jesus. Right? Or is the Justification of the sinner really a participation in the declaration already issued to Christ, through faith? Much like our participation in his death and resurrection through Baptism (Rom. 3:6-11)? I suggested this almost directly in our post Fraternal Dialogue on the Topic of "Objective Justification", though I know now that there is little direct support for this in the Confessions or in the subsequent writings of the Lutheran Fathers, particularly Chemnitz, who, in his Loci, for example, speaks of the sinner standing in real-time before God's "tribunals" of Justice and Grace:

"For if we are discussing our common position before the tribunal of God, we are all subject to the tribunal of His justice; and because before Him no living person can be justified but all are condemned, therefore God has also set up another tribunal, the throne of grace. And the Son of God pleads for us the benefit of being called away from the tribunal of justice to the throne of grace. Therefore the Pharisee, because he was not willing to use the benefit of this calling, but wanted to enter into judgment before the tribunal of justice, was condemned. But the publican, who was first accused at the tribunal of justice, convicted and condemned there, later by faith called out to the throne of grace and was justified."

How do you handle ONE vs TWO justifications in the version of Justification you would "uphold?"

Unknown said...

"Or is the Justification of the sinner really a participation in the declaration already issued to Christ, through faith?"

Yes, this is an excellent summary of my position.

As you said, the notion of two separate justifications is not found in Scripture. (To be fair, though, in my experience even the staunchest supporters of the broad formulation of OJ would reject the notion of two separate justifications.)

Forgiveness, salvation, life, justification are found only within the sphere of Christ (ev Christo). In this sense they are objective--they exist without regard to human faith or lack of faith. Faith is that which connects us to Christ, which puts us within the sphere of Christ, which enables us to participate in all of the blessings found there.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

And so, would you then also say, that apart from this participation through faith, neither the individual sinner nor "the world" is justified in any sense?

Unknown said...

Mr. Lindee, I would not be comfortable saying that the individual sinner is justified, since, in my mind, this clearly confuses the objective with the subjective.

I would, however, be comfortable saying that the world is justified--in the sense that Christ, as the second Adam, became a substitute for the world.

I'd be happy to expand on this, but other obligations call. I'd be happy to continue this discussion later today.

Unknown said...

By the way, since you brought up Lenski, he also discusses the justification of Christ in his analysis of Romans 5:18. He writes:

"One side is like the other: through one's fall--for all men a verdict of condemnation; through One's verdict of acquittal--for all men an acquitting to life. Christ's dukaioma is the acquittal of Christ himself, this acquittal as a permanent result....His acquittal he achieved in his human nature, but not for a benefit it brought to him but for the benefit it brought to men."

Yes, I realize that in the subsequent paragraphs Lenski argues for the subjective understanding of justification, but I think it's significant that someone like Lenski, who opposed the teaching of objective justification, nevertheless saw in Romans 5:18 the justification of Christ which achieved "for all men an acquitting to life".

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. Aaronson,

You caught me just as I was about to leave for the afternoon. Responding to your comment @12:56, if you intend to expand further, then certainly, later is fine. Of course, I have obligations through this evening, so will not be able to return to this myself until later (after 9pm CST, at least). But I'll leave you with some thoughts that you may like to address when you have time to take this up again.

Perhaps I should have stated my question by qualifying the term "sense" as "material sense." If you would say that, "apart from this participation through faith... "the World" is justified in [some] material sense," then I think you are going to have a very big problem making a meaningful separation of "the World" from "the World of sinners," that is, of separating "the World" from the individual souls of which it is comprised. I simply see no coherent way of understanding "the World" apart from the individual sinners which comprise it, or to speak of "the World" collectively, as having material Justification before God, while the individual sinners comprising "the World" do not. If this is the direction you intend to go, then your challenge will be to demonstrate such a meaningful and coherent distinction. Scripture, of course, will help your case immensely...

If, on the other hand, it can be said that "the World" is Justified, but only in a "figurative sense," as opposed to a "material sense," then I see no need to doggedly adhere to figures of speech. If this is the direction you intend to go, your challenge will be to show that such figures of speech, having no material impact, are nevertheless necessary patterns of speech.

I'll look at Lenski on that Romans 5 section, later.


Unknown said...

Mr. Lindee,

You're right, of course, that the distinction between the world and the people of the world isn't semantically significant. I made the distinction simply because of the different connotations the two phrases have. To my ear, "the world" has an objective ring, while "the people of the world" has a subjective ring. If this causes more confusion than clarity, I'm happy to concede the distinction.

As to the difference between material and figurative, I'd appreciate it if you could define how exactly you are using those terms, particularly the term "material". If you mean by "material sense" that everyone in the world actually and really possesses justification whether they believe or not, then I would not be in agreement. If you mean by "material sense" that justification actually and really exists in Christ regardless of and prior to the existence or nonexistence of faith, then I would be in agreement.

Brett Meyer said...

I'd like to add a few observations.

The Christian Book of Concord, the Lutheran Confessions, which all who accept divine calls from the Lutheran Synods have taken an oath to uphold, speak clearly that solely through faith in Christ alone are individuals accounted as acceptable to God the Father.

71] "but we maintain this, that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God. And because "to be justified" means that out of unjust men just men are made, or born again, it means also that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. [The term "to be justified" is used in two ways: to denote, being converted or regenerated; again, being accounted righteous. Accordingly we wish first to show this, that faith alone makes of an unjust, a just man, i.e., receives remission of sins".

Note here that in this crystal clear doctrinal statement the entire contention as to whether the doctrine of Objective Justification - in any formulation - is faithful to Scripture is emphatically decided:
"by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God."

UOJ teaches that "for Christ's sake" the entire unbelieving world has been accounted righteous by God objectively without faith. But the Lutheran Confessions close the door on that teaching by stating "by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous". And by that righteousness, Christ's righteousness, believers are acceptable to God.

Therefore without faith, without the gracious gift of faith worked by the Holy Spirit solely through the Means of Grace, no man is acceptable to God.

Also note in the BOC quote above that the Lutheran Confessions only detail two ways in which "justified" is used in Scripture and neither apply to unbelievers. Justified only applies to believers in Christ. Yes, Christ died and paid for the sins of the whole world, the iniquity of the world was laid upon Him and he paid the accepted price. The result of that payment is that all righteousness resides in Christ and never apart from him. It is, in fact, this righteousness which exists in Christ which brings justification to those who obtain Christ as their Propitiation and Mediator through faith alone.

Again, it is a misdirection from the doctrine of UOJ which teaches justification and a declaration of the forgiveness of sins which resides in Christ due to his atonement. I contend that it is Christ's righteousness which resides in Him. This is the same type of misdirection UOJ commits when it places the forgiveness of sins as the object of faith and not Christ and Him crucified as Scripture teaches. Acknowledging this removes the dilemma UOJ creates and again removes all necessity for the contradictory terms Objective and Subjective.

Unknown said...


I'm not sure that you've completely grasped the point I'm trying to make. You say, "The result of that payment is that all righteousness resides in Christ and never apart from him." I totally agree with you. I'm not sure who is claiming that righteousness resides apart from Christ, but it certainly isn't me. If you meant your post as a response to mine, perhaps you could reread what I've written and address what I've written. Thanks!

Brett Meyer said...

Phinehas, I appreciate your response and clarification.

Although your statement, "If you mean by "material sense" that justification actually and really exists in Christ regardless of and prior to the existence or nonexistence of faith, then I would be in agreement." triggered my consideration of the issue but the comment was directed toward the Lutheran Synod's teaching of Objective Justification and what the Confessions declare about "for the sake of Christ."

I would contend that Justification of the unbelieving world doesn't exist in Christ.

As you affirm, all righteousness exists in Christ.

The difference is that UOJ teaches God has made a declaration concerning the unbelieving world that "in Christ", or "for the sake of Christ" they are forgiven, righteous and worthy of eternal life. But the fact is they are not in Christ and may never be in Christ, since Scripture teaches Christ is a man's Propitiation and Mediator only, solely, through faith in Christ alone. It is a grave error for the doctrine of UOJ to teach that God has declared a divine verdict of not guilty on the unbelieving world who are not in Christ through faith.

That is why I believe it is incorrect to say that the unbeleiving world's justification exists in Christ. Scripture teaches that it's the righteousness of Christ which believers recieve through faith and that righteousness washes us from all sin. It is not the forgiveness of sins in Christ that washes us from all sin.

The key to this is understanding that the doctrine of UOJ falsely applies "for the sake of Christ" to a teaching that for the sake of Christ the whole unbelieving world has been declared forgiven, righteous and worthy of eternal life. In opposition to this teaching the BOC (as I quoted in my comment above) teaches that only by faith are we accounted anything that comes from Christ and are acceptable to God, "by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God."

This is in complete harmony with Galatians 5:4, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." Christ is of no affect to unbelievers - God does not consider anyone in Christ except by faith alone.

As stated in the comment above, this is another example of the doctrine of UOJ establishing a different object than what Scripture teaches and declares.

I hope this helps explain the points I was trying to make. I appreciate your question and clarification.

Unknown said...

Brett, you're reacting to and arguing against what I have already described as overly broad formulation of UOJ.

The narrow (and correct, I believe) formulation of UOJ is that, in his resurrection, Jesus Christ, as a representative of every human being, was declared not guilty of the sins of every human being, which he had taken upon himself on the cross. It is universal in that Christ represented every single human being. It is objective in that this declaration took place completely within the Godhead and this righteousness is located only in the sphere of Christ.

Thus, the only way to access, receive, enjoy, possess, or benefit from this righteousness is to be "in Christ" through faith.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


You can't fault Brett for reacting to the very real definitions and explanations of UOJ that are given by the larger synods (I think he takes you at your word as to your personal views). Your version of OJ is not the same as the version shared by many others, and I would say that your version is not at all the general belief of the WELS.

I ask this sincerely, who gets to decide what “the teaching” of OJ is supposed to be? You claim this “substitutionary justification” as the true Biblical teaching, but it certainly isn’t clearly taught in any passage of the Scriptures, nor did the early Church discuss it, nor did the Lutheran Reformers find it in Scripture or mention it, to the best of my knowledge. It isn’t in the Book of Concord. The closest I’ve seen to any historical reference to it is one sentence from Gerhard that may or may not suggest this as his own private opinion (but certainly not the dogma of the Lutheran Church).

It’s kind of like trying to give the “true teaching” of the immaculate conception or the assumption of Mary. One can try to explain it in a way that doesn’t utterly destroy the Scriptures, but there is a historical definition to it that makes such a definition nothing more than a contrived personal attempt to salvage the unsalvageable.

For example, I don’t think Walther’s famous explanation fits your definition:

“For God has already forgiven you your sins 1800 years ago when He in Christ absolved all men by raising Him after He first had gone into bitter death for them. Only one thing remains on your part so that you also possess the gift. This one thing is—faith. And this brings me to the second part of today's Easter message, in which I now would show you that every man who wants to be saved must accept by faith the general absolution, pronounced 1800 years ago, as an absolution spoken individually to him."

Walther doesn’t say that God forgave Jesus for your sins. He says God “has already forgiven you your sins.” He extends this “absolution” to all men, and while they don’t all yet “possess this gift” by faith, their forgiveness has already been—not just won by Christ, but “pronounced.” His teaching of “general absolution” sounds like the very “general justification” that Huber taught and that the Lutheran Church rejected at the beginning. And as he says, it is this “general absolution” which people are to accept as their “individual absolution.”

I’ll look for some Pieper quotes. I’m quite sure Pieper’s definition goes beyond yours, from what I’ve read in the past.

The WELS statement doesn’t agree with your definition:

We believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them righteous for the sake of Christ. This is the central message of Scripture upon which the very existence of the church depends. It is a message relevant to people of all times and places, of all races and social levels, for "the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men" (Romans 5:18). All need forgiveness of sins before God, and Scripture proclaims that all have been justified.


Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


The ELS catechism doesn’t agree with your definition. Adding the phrase “in Christ” regarding those who are not “in Christ” by faith is, as Brett mentioned, erroneous.

210. Why do we say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”?

We say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins,” because the Bible assures us that God the Father has by grace forgiven all sinners and declared them righteous in Christ. (Eph. 1:7, Rom. 3:24)

211. How can God declare sinners righteous?

God can declare sinners righteous because, on the basis of the redemptive work of Christ, He has acquitted all people of the guilt and punishment of their sins, and has imputed to them the righteousness of Christ;

He therefore regards them in Christ as though they had never sinned (general or objective justification). (See Questions 158-159). (Romans 4:25, 2 Corinthians 5:19,21, Rom. 3:23-24)

God regards all unbelievers “in Christ”? “As though they had never sinned”? God has “imputed to all people the righteousness of Christ”? This is simply false.

What a huge mess has resulted since the synods took it upon themselves to abandon the language of the Scriptures and the Book of Concord!

Brett Meyer said...

I was addressing the UOJ statement that you were actually comfortable with - "If you mean by "material sense" that justification actually and really exists in Christ regardless of and prior to the existence or nonexistence of faith, then I would be in agreement."

My point was that Justification does not exist in Christ (for Christ's sake) for those without faith. All righteousness exists in Christ. All those who by the gracious work of the Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace alone have faith in Christ alone receive Christ's Robe - His Righteousness - for the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. If the whole world were to have the Holy Spirit's faith in Christ alone they would all recieve Christ's righteousness and thereby, for Christ's sake, be justified and saved eternally. But we know that most reject the Gospel and will remain under God's wrath and condemnation and will be in the torments of Hell for eternity.

No one is in Christ except by faith - how then can the omnipotent and omniscient God declare unbelievers justified for Christ's sake? The Confessions confirm, as quoted above, "by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God."

Phinehas, you state, "Jesus Christ, as a representative of every human being, was declared not guilty of the sins of every human being,"

I don't believe this narrow formulation of UOJ statement is correct. I agree that it is specificly limiting it's scope and that it is a UOJ statement, but disagree with what you are teaching by it.

You state Christ was declared not guilty of the sins of every human being but in fact the atonement was not a matter of guilty and being declared not guilty, but Christ being made sin for the whole world, making satisfaction for those sins and Christ's triumphant resurrection. Christ was never guilty of those sins and so a declaration of not guilty doesn't apply. Christ paid the price for the whole worlds sins - separation from God the Father and death. I believe this is another twisting of Scripture that the doctrine of UOJ makes in it's attempt to relate Christ's work to unbelievers as though this "great exchange" took place on the cross - I believe Pastor Rydecki also challenges this assertion.

There wasn't a great exchange on the cross - Christ taking on the whole world's sins in exchange for His righteousness and justification (to the whole unbelieving world). The iniquity of the whole world was laid upon Christ and He paid for those sins.

What the doctrine of UOJ avoids is Scripture's clear teaching that Christ is man's Propitiation and Mediator through faith alone. How can a great exchange take place on the cross with the unbelieving world when Christ is only obtained as Mediator through faith and that worked solely through the Means of Grace.

I don't disagree with your last statement but I would change it, due to the justifiable controversy over the doctrine of Justification, to read: Thus, the only way to be reconciled to God, access, recieve, enjoy, possess, or benefit from this righteousness is to be "in Christ" through faith.

I'm still at a loss to understand the Scriptural need for defining any part of Justification as being Objective since all of it is God's work - the atonement, godly contrition, faith in Christ alone, justification and eternal life.

Unknown said...

Pastor Rydecki, if you're simply going to dismiss my position with a wave of the hand so that you can argue against Walther's sermon and the ELS Catechism, then I think I'm done here (unless Mr. Lindee wants to continue our earlier discussion).

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Phinehas, I don't know what you mean about dismisssing your position with a wave of the hand. We're not dealing with anyone's particular position, including mine. That's the whole problem I was highlighting in my last comment. If we've gotten to the point where everyone has a personal take on the Biblical doctrine of justification, we are really in a sad state.

I'll ask you to explain this vicarious justification position further.

The common understanding of "substitionary atonement" is that, since our substitute suffered for our sins, therefore we, the guilty ones, will never suffer for them. Christ tasted death for all of us, so that we will never taste death. That's the Biblical view of what it means to have a substitute fill in for us, that He might take on Himself what we deserved.

But when it comes to "being justified," I do not want a substitute. I do not need a substitute. Heaven help me if someone else is justified in my place! I am the one who needs justification. I don't want someone else to be justified for me. I want to be justified.

What I do need, however, is for someone else to be righteous for me and give me His righteousness so that I may be the one who is justified.

So to speak of Christ as having been justified in our place is really a scary thing. Righteous in our place? Yes. Justified in our place? No. He received the condemnation I deserved. I receive the justification He deserved. The Biblical doctrine does not need Christ to be justified from my sins in order for me to be justified from my sins. That's a strange twist on the meaning of "substitute." It's also not how the BoC defines "justification," which is "the making of a just man out of an unjust man" (by imputation).

But if you can explain this substitutionary justification differently, please do.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. Aaronson,

I'm finally back in my chair... You asked me for some further definition of my terms.

I'm including the entire chain of reasoning we are entertaining, here. If we accept that the "Justification of Christ" in 1 Tim. 3:16 is the ONE Justification in which sinners participate only through faith, then the phrase you express comfort with, i.e. "the World is Justified," or equivalently "the World is Justified in Christ" (yes, equivalently – the only point at issue being is it or is it not Justified, not how, or why, or by what process, or "in" what or who), needs to be understood either as a material Justification (i.e., "actually Justified, really, and for real – the World possessing full forgiveness and righteous standing before God"), or only figuratively (i.e., "NOT actually Justified, etc."). If it is Justified in a material sense, then, (1) in order to avoid the accusation of Huberianism (according to Thesis 1 of Hunnius' "Theses Concerning the Huberian Universal Justification of Believers and Unbelievers"), and (2) in order to remain consistent with what has already been established in this chain of reasoning – that individuals are not, in fact, Justified apart from faith, but are Justified only in the moment they come to faith, i.e., in the moment in which they become participants in the declaration already issued to Christ, not prior to or apart from faith in any way, shape or form – you must find some way of meaningfully and Biblically separating "the World" from "the individual souls which comprise the World". I would assert that there is no way to coherently establish from Scripture (or even from naked reason for that matter) a material "Justification of the World" apart from an equally material "Justification of all the individual souls that comprise the World." But I've been wrong before, so I'm certainly willing to here you out on that, along with all of the direct positive statements of Scripture you can adduce to prove it.

If, however, this "Justification of the World" is merely figurative, then your challenge is to defend the necessity of this phrase in the first place. If this figurative speech cannot be proven necessary, then I would suggest that the only way to understand a figurative "Justification of the World" is the way in which Hunnius admitted in Thesis 5 of his "Theses on Huberian Universal Justification...":

[W]e most willingly grant that there is a righteousness that avails before God for the entire human race, a righteousness that has been gained an acquired through Christ, so that if the whole world were to believe in Christ, then the whole world would be justified. (bold emphasis mine)

So again, if you argue for a material "Justification of the World," you would have to prove that there is a coherent and Scriptural distinction between "the World" and "the individual souls which comprise the World" – not merely concede that there is a distinction. Why do you need to prove the distinction? Because I and many others see no distinction between "the World" and "the individual souls which comprise the World", and so cannot merely concede that there is one. If, on the other hand, you argue for a figurative "Justification of the World," then you would need to prove that this pattern of figurative speech is necessary. If it isn't necessary, then I would suggest that Hunnius' Thesis 5 is a better way to express the Bible's teaching on the matter.

Hopefully this clarifies what I am trying communicate with the terms material and figurative.


Unknown said...

Mr. Lindee,

Thanks for explaining your usage of the terms. I reject a material justification of the world as you have defined it, specifically "the World possessing full forgiveness and righteous standing before God". The only way to possess forgiveness is through faith, the organon leptikon.

I am somewhat uncomfortable adopting the term "figurative justification" simply because the word "figurative" gives the impression that something is unreal or uncertain to some degree, but I'm willing to use it as long as the word "figurative" is understood to refer to a figure of speech or a manner of speaking or a certain sense in which one can understand a concept.

You ask then about the necessity of using this figure of speech. I believe this figure of speech was made necessary by the battles that went on in American Lutheranism in the 19th and early 20th Centuries regarding election and justification. When dealing with erring Lutherans who sought to limit justification, Synodical Conference Lutherans found it necessary to use terminology that made it clear that Christ has acquired justification for the entire world and that faith receives this justification, but does not create it in and of itself. Granted, in the heat of battle I do believe that some Synodical Conference Lutherans went too far in describing UOJ, but when more narrowly defined, it is certainly a Scriptural teaching.

I think my position is essentially the same as that of Hunnius in Thesis 5, but you may wish to disagree.

David Boisclair said...

Pardon my intrusion into this conversation, but I wish to associate myself totally with Mr./Rev. Phinehas Aaronson's clear and biblical statements.

A quote from Pieper was desired, well I thought that I would supply Pieper's definition of saving faith, which echoes some of what Mr. Aaronson has beautifully said about a general justification being in God:

The term “grace” (χάρις) denotes God’s gracious disposition, which for Christ’s sake He cherishes in Himself toward sinful mankind and by which He in His heart, “before His inner forum,” does not charge men with their sins, but forgives them (Christian Dogmatics 2:7)

What else could this be but Justification? He writes, "does not charge men with their sins, but forgives them." This falls in line with the comparison of Objective Justification with God's saving grace that obviously precedes justifying faith.

I find that Mr. Aaronson's quotations from Lenski are also enlightening to me since I did not consult Lenski.

I also believe that Huber's position is different from WELS's position in that he believed that justification was conferred without faith, showing that Huber's doctrine was not the same as ours.

I appreciate Mr. Aaronson's careful observation that one should be very careful in enunciating the doctrine of Justification.


Rev. David R. Boisclair, STM
St. Louis, MO

Tom Cotton said...

Hi, sorry to ask this so late after the conversation had ended.

The statement that God has justified the world in Christ was rejected on the grounds that the world is not in Christ before faith.

Would you say that no redemption for the world exists until the world by faith is in Christ?

If we moved this same reasoning to election wouldn't we end up saying that no election took place before the foundation of the world either?

The reason why I'm asking is that Ephesians 1 speaks of both Election and Redemption being blessings given to us "in Chrst".
Wouldn't God choosing us "in Christ" before the foundation of the world clearly mean that He chose us before we had come to faith, or even been born? Or in other words that my election existed before I came to faith.

Thank you,


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