Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A. Hunnius on the truly confessional Lutheran teaching of Romans 5:18

(Here is an excerpt from a post on www.faithalonejustifies.com)

ClearExplanationAegidius Hunnius has a brilliant section in A Clear Explanation of the Controversy among the Wittenberg Theologians concerning Samuel Huber’s misuse of Romans 5 to prove that all those who have been condemned through Adam’s sin have also been justified by Christ’s obedience (whether they believe in Him or not).

Hunnius takes apart Huber’s (and the official WELS) doctrine piece by piece, concluding with this observation about Huber’s supposed “confessional subscription” to the Lutheran Book of Concord:

And what will Dr. Huber reply to the Book of Concord, which, in citing these very words from Romans, explicitly confirms that those things mean nothing other than that we are justified by faith? This is what the Book of Concord says in the Latin edition, page 666: “Therefore, these statements are equivalent and clearly mean the same thing, when Paul says that we are justified by faith; or that faith is imputed to us for righteousness; and when he teaches that we are justified by the obedience of one Mediator, who is Christ; or that through the righteousness of one man, justification of life comes upon all men. For faith does not justify on account of this, that it is such a good work, or that it is such a splendid virtue, but because it apprehends and embraces the merit of Christ in the promise of the Gospel.” Thus far the Book of Concord.  If the Pauline phrase (that “through the righteousness of one Man, justification of life comes upon all men”) clearly means the same thing as that other statement, “We are justified by faith” (as the Book of Concord clearly and emphatically asserts), then the interpretation is rejected by the sentence of the Book of Concord that imagines from these words of Paul a justification apart from faith—one that extends also to those who have never had faith and never will. Dr. Luther says it even better in [his lectures on] the second chapter to the Galatians: “Where Christ and faith are not present, there is no remission of sins, no refuge, nothing but pure imputation of sins and condemnation.”


Christian Schulz said...

Seems pretty cut and dry. I thought other explanations and quotes from Hunnius and the Wittenberg faculty/Lutheran Church were good enough, but the opponents always twist and wiggle out of them, or so they make it. But this is pretty cut and dry. To say otherwise seems to fly directly in the face of Hunnius, et al and in direct favor of Huber's position/interpretation.

In addition, it seems as though Hunnius is bound to the interpretations of specific passages within the Lutheran Confessions. In some debates I've been in, I did exactly as Hunnius did by showing how the Confessions interpret the referenced passage, the pastor(s)' response: we're not bound by how the writers of the Confessions may interpret individual passages when they cite them. I almost spit up my drink when I read the Clear Explanation a few weeks ago and Hunnius was doing the same thing I did just years after the Book of Concord was compiled. So it's obvious Hunnius, et al disagree with that notion of "not being bound." I'll stand with them and their justification-only-by-faith interpretation of supposed universal-justification-of-all-sinners-without-faith passages.

Unknown said...

Romans 5:18 sets forth a strong inference based on vv. 15-17. It is interesting to note that in the original Greek, v. 18 is written as a verbless pair of comparative clauses, which is not at all unusual. Any verbal aspect which colors v. 18 must be drawn from the surrounding verses, v.17 and v. 19. v. 17 uses a 3rd person plural aorist active indicative verb, "ebasileusen, reigned," in its protasis; v. 17's apodosis uses the same vocable, but as a 3rd person future active indicative, "basileusosin, will reign." v. 17's first verb indicates the completed action of its subject. Thus: "death reigned." v. 17's 2nd verb indicates the contrast, a projected, but not completed action regarding its subjects: "those receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness."

v. 19 follows the same paradim of verbal tenses and moods, but changes verbal voices: The verbal protasis is 3rd person plural, aorist passive indicative, "katestathesan, were thoroughly established;" while the apodosis is 3rd person plural, future passive indicative, "katastathesontai, will be thoroughly established." Thus v. 19's two parts, respectively, "the many were thoroughly established..., ...the many will be thoroughly established..."

Based on Paul's linguistic pattern in 5:17,19, v. 18's strong comparative inference would follow this set verbal tense paradim: The protasis reflects the aorist verbal aspect of completed action even as its own context makes clear, "...just as through one's transgression, there resulted condemation for all men..."; and the apodosis reflects the future verbal aspect of projected, future action, (most clearly an incomplete action), "...so also through One's justification, there will result justification of life for all men."

The context makes clear the comparison: Adam's transgression effected for many the reign of death (v.17), for all, the abiding fact of condemnation(v.18), and for many, the established status as being sinful based on Adam's disobedience. v.19 by contrast asserts, "even so for many there awaits gracious results purchased by Christ (v.17), for all there awaits justification of life (v.18), and there awaits for many the establishment of their status as just men, based on Christ's obedience.

The technical clarity yielded by the Greek in these verses clearly teaches justification based on Christ's merits alone, a gracious gift intended for all, a gracious gift awaiting many. The overall context of Romans which precedes and follows 5:17-19 makes clear that the attribution of justice by God based on Christ's merits alone is by the agency of faith alone, effected by the Spirit alone. Hunnius correctly cites the Book of Concord when referring to Romans 5:18. Those who oppose this verse can only do so by reading into the context more than it says and allows, or reading out of the context what it clearly, sufficiently, and efficaciously teaches.

In Christ alone,

Gary Cepek

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


Those are excellent points. Thank you for highlighting the Greek of those verses. I agree with you on the tenses that ought to be supplied for the ellipses in that verse.

I suspect that another reason why the WELS is pushing so hard for the NIV is that, of all the other options (ESV, Holman, NKJV, etc.), only the NIV really supports the WELS This We Believe statement on justification, with regard to the tenses and the structure of Romans 5:18. The ESV's "leads to" is probably the most difficult translation for the WELS' use of Rom. 5:18 in This We Believe, as it would no longer support their conclusions in that paragraph at all.

NIV: "...so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."

ESV: "...so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men."

Holman: "...so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone."

NKJV: "...through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life."

Hunnius also gave an interpretation of Romans 5:18 in his Theses Opposed to Huberianism:

This notwithstanding, we most willingly grant that there is a righteousness that avails before God for the entire human race, a righteousness that has been gained and acquired through Christ, so that if the whole world were to believe in Christ, then the whole world would be justified. With respect to this, Paul writes in Romans 5 that “through one man’s justification (δικαίωμα), the gift has spread toward all men for justification (δικαίωσις) of life.” Nevertheless, no one is justified nor does anyone obtain remission of sins from this acquired universal righteousness without the imputation of this acquired righteousness of Christ. But the imputation of righteousness does not take place except through faith. (Thesis 5)

Brett Meyer said...

"I suspect that another reason why the WELS is pushing so hard for the NIV is that, of all the other options (ESV, Holman, NKJV, etc.), only the NIV really supports the WELS This We Believe statement on justification,...

So then the only real issue at the 2013 WELS Convention is the chief article of Christ's doctrine - Justification, and not the manipulated acceptance of the New Age, Methodist, Baptist, RCC, Pentecostal NNIV.

Because it's not the confessed acceptance of the NNIV which separates individuals, churches and synods from Christ - it's the confessed acceptance of a false gospel.

Hunnius was faithful and bold enough to attribute the gospel of UOJ to its chief author in his Theses Opposed To Huberianism. Other faithful Christians should be so bold - and so faithful to do the same, by the grace and mercy of the Triune God.

May the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ lead the laity to do what the majority of clergy have utterly failed to do - publicly renounce the gospel of Universal Objective Justification for what it is - for what Hunnius so long ago faithfully identified it as, and then boldly confesses, teach and proclaim Christ's one true Gospel of the forgiveness of sins: Justification, righteousness and eternal salvation solely through faith in Christ alone.

The Lord's will be done.

In Christ,
Brett Meyer

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