Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Exploring Huber's doctrine further

The following dialogue is my response to this comment by Pr. Rob Lawson. It is far too long for the “Comments” section of the blog, so it has been made into a separate post. The various ‘speakers’ are identified for the sake of clarity. If other participants in this dialogue would like to have similar lengthy responses posted as a post rather than as a comment, we can accommodate them in the same way if they send in their reply via e-mail, preferably already in HTML format.

Lawson: Walther neither ignored, nor was he was ignorant of, Hunnius' later condemnation. The rest of the paragraph that you quoted states: "The Wittenberg theologians (Gesner, Leyser, Hunnius, and others) did not want to tolerate Huber's expression: "Christus contulit proprie redemtionem toti generi humano," that is, "Christ imparted redemption to the entire human race in the proper sense," because the actual imparting, "as it is taken in the theological schools," refers to the appropriation."

Rydecki: Yes, that’s an interesting way for Walther to minimize the devastating condemnation Hunnius leveled against Huber’s teaching of universal justification. Walther makes it seem like it’s just the expression (which occurs in Thesis #1 of Hunnius’ 20 Theses opposed to Huber’s universal justification) “Christ conferred redemption” that the Wittenberg theologians didn’t like. I don’t know if Walther failed to read past Thesis #1, or if he just figured Hunnius was having a bad day. According to the Theses Opposed to Huberianism and the larger description of the problem in A Clear Explanation of the Controversy, it was much more than just a matter of inaccurate expression, and it was much more than just this one expression. I commend these two works for study and discussion. As Hunnius explains over and over, the Lutheran Church did not teach any sort of universal justification.

Lawson: Walther was simply pointing out that the faculty at Wuerttemberg didn't seem to get quite as bent out of shape about Huber's doctrine of "universal justification" as did the Wittenberg faculty. Wuerttemberg noted mainly a terminological difference (which they didn't like) and not a substantive one.

Rydecki: Actually Tom Hardt himself debunks Walther’s claim in footnote #28 of his paper, noting that the response of the Tuebingen theologians was quite early in the conflict and “cannot be used to cover the conflict in general, which is suggested by the inclusion of those words in C. F. W. Walther’s edition of J. W. Baier: Compendium.” In other words, Walther’s inclusion of the Wuerttemberg theologians’ conclusion in the Baier Compendium was misleading. Walther tried to use the early response of the Tuebingen theologians to make the case (or at least he gives the impression) that the whole thing was primarily a matter of disagreement over terminology. Even Hardt, who supports Walther’s Objective Justification, recognizes Walther’s error in that regard.

Even so, the Wuerttemberg theologians, as you say, didn’t like Huber’s terminology, while the Wittenberg theologians unequivocally rejected his terminology. Why, then, did Walther and H.A. Preus go on to adopt that very terminology? And why does it bother the supporters of universal justification so much to be linked to Huber, if, according to Walther, his doctrine was substantively orthodox and nothing for orthodox Lutherans to get bent out of shape about? If Walther’s followers think that Huber was basically orthodox with regard to justification and that the Wittenberg theologians taught justification wrongly (since they rejected Huber’s teaching of it), then it would seem to be the honest thing to just come out and say so.

Lawson: There was, after all, a temporary reconciliation between Huber and Wittenberg in 1594 (which the faculty at Tuebingen also signed on to). It fell apart not because of Huber's doctrine of universal justification per se, but because of where he took it.

Rydecki: I have seen no evidence whatsoever in Hardt or anywhere else that Huber’s doctrine of universal justification was ever found to be acceptable by anyone in Wittenberg, once they learned what it was. Again, as Hardt points out, this temporary reconciliation (February, 1594) was very early in the conflict. Hunnius explains (in A Clear Explanation, April, 1594) that, at first, they were wondering if it was just a difference of terminology, but after further investigation it became clear that it was the concept itself that was flawed. There is plenty of evidence from 1594, from 1597 (Theses Opposed to Huberianism), and from subsequent years that Huber’s universal justification was always found to be wrong, and that the temporary reconciliation that took place was due to Huber’s temporary retraction of some of his statements.

Furthermore, it is the positive teaching of Hunnius concerning the article of justification that demonstrates the error of universal justification just as much as his negative statements about Huber’s doctrine. There was no teaching of universal justification—by that or any other name—in the Lutheran Church. There never had been, according to Hunnius, from the time of Luther on. There was a teaching of the universal satisfaction made by Christ, and the universal will of God for man’s salvation, and the universal call by God to all men in the Gospel, and the universal merit of redemption and reconciliation, but only the particular doctrine of election, and only the particular doctrine of justification.

Lawson: At least that's Tom Hardt's take in his essay "Justification and Easter" in the Robert Preus festschrift. Here is the extended quote from Hardt (sorry for the length). I'm sure you've read it, but for others who haven't…

Rydecki: Yes, I have read Hardt’s essay a couple of times. In fact, I have Hardt’s essay to thank for directing me to study Huber and Hunnius in the first place. Before I read Hardt, I had no idea about either Huber or Hunnius. I simply believed what my seminary professors had always told me, that the Lutheran Church has “always taught” universal justification, especially due to Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 5:19. Then I read Hardt’s account of the controversy between Huber and the Wittenberg faculty, including the section where he quotes the Wittenberg faculty: “Never does Paul teach universal justification. For as far as concerns 2 Corinthians 5, the words ‘not imputing their trespasses unto them,’ they are not to be understood universally about all men regardless of faith.” So I appreciate Hardt’s work and his scholarship, without being able to agree with all of his conclusions, because they do not appear to be supported even by his own evidence.

Hardt: … When confronted with Huber’s interpretation of Romans 5:19b, where he understands ‘all’ to include also unbelievers, his opponents [i.e., ‘men such as Egidius Hunnius, Polycarp Leyser and Samuel Gesner’] introduce a distinction, saying that ‘condemnation as far as it concerns the debt belongs to all men but as far as concerns its execution (“ACTU”) belongs only to impenitents and unbelievers. So the offer of God’s grace and Christ’s merit is universal but as far as it concerns its execution (“ACTU”) it is limited to believers only, who are excluded from condemnation through the benefaction of Christ, grasped by faith.’ Hunnius et alii thus do not reject the idea of a universally valid grace. Against Huber, however, they reject the idea that somehow this grace would already be conferred on the individuals through the universality of atonement, a notion that they think to be present in Huber’s works.

Rydecki: The conclusion of the Wittenberg theologians regarding Romans 5 noted by Hardt is also cited in A Clear Explanation. I wonder if Hardt grasped the argument of the Wittenberg theologians on this point. Hunnius explains it this way (p.64):

Hunnius: And if Dr. Huber were teachable, the learned and vigorous response of the Wittenberg theologians could have abundantly satisfied him. This is how they respond to Huber regarding that passage championed by Huber, Romans 5: “On the contrary, isn’t your conclusion manifestly overthrown by that very passage that you cite, clearly demonstrating that there is no valid reason for your opposition? To be sure, just as the condemnation pertained to all men by guilt , and nevertheless actually pertains only to the impenitent and unbelieving, so also the gift of the grace of God and the merit of Christ is certainly universal. Nevertheless, it is actually restricted to believers only—those who are released from condemnation by the benefit of Christ, who is apprehended by faith.” Thus far the Wittenberg theologians.

Rydecki: There was never any controversy over the idea of “universally valid grace.” The Wittenberg theologians confessed that all along. What they rejected was the idea that grace would be conferred on all men in such a way as to justify unbelievers, which Huber most certainly did teach. “To justify sinners” is the conferral of grace on sinners. To speak of God absolving or justifying the whole world of sinners while not conferring grace on the whole world of sinners is simply absurd.

Hardt: Huber rejects this accusation as a calumniation, assuring that he has only ‘called universal justification that whereby God, considering the satisfaction of Christ, has because of this become propitiated toward all mankind, accepting it as if everyone had made satisfaction for himself.’ He assures that every individual must partake of this gift by faith in the Word and the sacraments. On the surface this seems to be an assuring convergence of views, which explains the temporary reconciliation between the parties.”

Rydecki: Hardt here betrays how he has been influenced by a Waltherian view of an Easter absolution, following the Waltherian paradigm of 1) God’s act of pardoning all men on Easter Sunday, followed by 2) God’s handing out of the already-universally-issued pardon in the Means of Grace, followed by 3) Man’s reception of the pardon by believing that all men have already been pardoned. Hardt therefore views Huber’s statement as a convergence of views and as a positive development, since Hardt is reading the Easter absolution back into the minds of the Wittenberg theologians. Indeed, as demonstrated in the original post, Huber goes on to describe his teaching of justification in almost the exact same words used by the Synodical Conference, asserting that, while all men have been justified by God, no one “possesses” justification until he believes. But it was this very teaching that the Wittenberg theologians went on to condemn.

Hardt: At length no reconciliation, however, was possible. The reason cannot, strictly speaking, be said to be the fact that Huber insisted on using the unusual term ‘universal justification’ or on maintaining the idea that all mankind had been given, in some sense, part of Christ’s universal, substitutionary righteousness.

Rydecki: Here is an example of Hardt’s conclusion not being supported by the evidence. Nowhere did the Lutheran theologians teach that mankind, in any sense, had been “given part of Christ’s righteousness.” On the contrary, they rejected that very teaching, stating over and over that Christ’s universal righteousness, while acquired for all men, is only given or shared or imputed to men by faith.

Hunnius: 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 (dikaioma), the gift of life has spread toward all men for justification (dikaiosis).” But no one is justified nor does anyone receive remission of sins from this universally acquired righteousness without the imputation of this righteousness acquired by Christ. But the imputation of righteousness does not take place except through faith. (Theses Opposed to Huberianism, Concerning Justification, Thesis #5)

Hardt: It is necessary to go more deeply into the confusingly rich material. According to our conviction the essential aberration in Huber’s doctrine on justification was in the eyes of the faculty of Wittenberg – where the main struggle took place – its teaching of unicam iustificationem, only one justification, viz. the universal one, while denying the individual one as a divine action.

Rydecki: Again, Hardt’s conclusions are not supported by the evidence (it would be helpful to be able to review the original source from which Hardt quotes—I have been unable to acquire it). He assumes that the Wittenberg theologians taught two justifications—a universal one and an individual one, as Walther does. He faults Huber, not for teaching universal justification, but for not also teaching a divine justification by faith.

Part of the problem may be his translation of “unicam justificationem” as “only one justification.” The Latin provided by Hardt states: Quod videlicet unicam iustificationem eamque omnibus hominibus absque respectu fidei ex aequo communem, contra Scripturam statuit. Literally, “Namely, that he maintains, contrary to Scripture, a singular (or 'single-faceted' or 'unique' or 'unparalleled') justification, and it common to all men equally without respect to faith.” Hardt’s translation of “only one justification” is weighted to bring about the logical conclusion that “there must be more than one justification,” thus paving the way for Walther to agree with the Wittenberg theologians. But the translation “only one” is not supported by the Latin.

Instead, as Hunnius explains, both in Hardt’s citations and in the two books previously mentioned, the Lutheran theologians explicitly denied any teaching of a universal justification by the Lutheran Church. They did, indeed, teach only one justification—the one that happens only to individuals, only by the Word, only by faith (cf. Ap.:IV:67).

Hunnius: Our Churches have always taught and still teach the justification that is by faith and that pertains to believers, but that by no means extends to the whole world. Besides this justification by faith, Dr. Huber teaches some other justification that is equally common to the entire human race. (A Clear Explanation, p. 57)

Hardt: The accusation is: ‘1) He affirms a universal justification, whereby all men are equally justified by God because of Christ’s merit, regardless of faith. 2) He denies faith’s or the believer’s individual justification to be by God or a special action of God, whereby He justifies only believers. 3) He states faith’s individual justification to be only men’s action, whereby they apply to themselves by faith the righteousness of Christ.’”

Rydecki: Hardt seems to miss the import of the first accusation against Huber. He seems to be interpreting this first accusation, not as an “accusation,” but as a concession of a point that Huber was teaching rightly, while the next two accusations reveal the point of divergence from the Wittenberg theologians. But in fact, all three enumerations are accusations against Huber. He was wrong 1) for teaching a universal justification of all men apart from faith; 2) for denying that justification by faith is a divine act; and 3) for turning justification by faith into a work of man.

Hardt: This is not a mere question of phraseology: ‘We do not deal only with terms but mainly with realities … It is intolerable in the church of Christ that he, contrary to Scripture, states that there is only [sic] one justification common to all, equally and regardless of faith … Also when he affirms universal remission of sin in his sense, … denying the individual one by God.’ Huber’s opponents have discovered that the kind of individual justification that Huber confesses to be necessary for salvation – he never embraced universalism or the final salvation of all men – was a move from man toward God, whereby the individual applied to himself the benefits of the once-forever event. No real divine justification took place in this latter action. Huber’s opponents think that this opinion ‘tastes of pelagianism.’ They point to such Scripture passages as Romans 4, Psalm 32, and Acts 3:19, where the individual remission of sins is said to take place as a direct action of God. Against Huber’s only [sic] one action by God they do not, however, teach a corresponding only one action taking place in the individual’s justification. Rather, they teach a double set of actions, two acts by God, one in Christ and one in the believer. They stress that they ‘do not simply consider, approve and explain two different aspects (nudos respectus) but different acts of God …: one universal, viz. performed by Christ, another special one, consisting in an application, which is no less a work and an act of God than the former one.’

Rydecki: Here Hardt asserts a teaching among the Wittenberg theologians of a “double set of actions.” Indeed, they did teach “two aspects” to the remission of sins (duplex remissio —“a two-faceted remission of sins,” not “two remissions of sins”!). The first aspect is that act of God by which Christ “acquired” or “obtained” righteousness for all men, which is universal. The second aspect is the act of God by which He applies the righteousness of Christ to the sinner by means of the Word, by means of faith, which is individual. However, neither aspect by itself results in anyone’s “justification.” Hardt errs, as did Walther, in identifying each of these actions separately as “justification.”

Hardt himself explains what the universal “action” was to which the Wittenberg theologians were referring: “The universal act of God toward mankind that Huber’s opponents want to maintain is described in the following way: ‘The benefit of redemption has been obtained and acquired for the entire world’, ‘the righteousness has been obtained for us.’”

To use a mundane analogy (begging the reader's forbearance), one might compare the Wittenberg theologians’ “two-faceted justification” with a “two-faceted car repair.” First, the mechanic goes out and acquires brand new engines for every car in the world. Second, he places one of them in your car. Both aspects are necessary in order for your car to be repaired. To assert that the mechanic’s acquisition of billions of engines is, “in some sense,” the repair of the whole world of cars is as ludicrous as asserting that Christ’s acquisition of righteousness for all men results in the justification of the whole world of sinners.

As cited above from the Theses Opposed to Huberianism, the obtaining and acquiring of redemption and righteousness for the entire world was never in dispute. That these things are the equivalent of a universal absolution or justification of all men, apart from faith, is what Huber asserted and the Wittenberg theologians denied. To acquire righteousness for all is not the same thing as “to justify all,” as Hunnius explains at length in the two works cited above, for the act of justification includes intrinsically the application of the righteousness of Christ, and that application is only made by faith, as Hunnius explains clearly in A Clear Explanation, p.60:

Hunnius: Here one may ask Dr. Huber when he thinks all this took place. When were all sins remitted equally to the entire human race? He has to confess one or the other—that this took place either from eternity, or in time. But it will be clearly demonstrated shortly that neither of these options can be true. We interpret those things that the Scripture contains regarding the redemption and reconciliation of the world (or of the human race) concerning the benefit gained and acquired through the death of Christ, and concerning the sufficiency of that merit of Christ—that it is sufficient for the whole world to be reconciled, justified and saved, if the whole world were to believe; that it was also intended for the world and acquired to this end, that all men should thence obtain salvation through faith. Meanwhile, God has never intended it to mean that it avails for justifying or for remitting sins without faith, through some sort of general remission of sins or justification, which is also supposedly done among those who never have faith, never had faith, or never will have faith. He who does not believe, says John the Baptist, will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3). Therefore, regarding those who never believe in the Son of God, from them also the wrath of God was never withdrawn (not even for a moment).


ReWood Products, LLC said...

I thank God that this blog and a small handful of other Confessional Lutheran blogs still exist, because more often than not, these kinds of discussions are not to be found within the local churches, either because of neglect or by intent. These discussions are truly amazing. They are generally orderly and respectful, with a few exceptions. Every person has a chance to respond, so the one-sided nature and unsubstantiated accusations in articles such as what showed up in a recent edition of Christian News does not stand for a lengthy time unanswered, with the implication that somehow those unsubstantiated accusations are true. But most importantly, the simple truths of Scripture shine through again and again.

The Scriptural teaching of justification is simple, and only becomes complicated when people change the definition of words or add/subtract from what Scripture says.

The Scriptural truth of justification is reflected in many of the simple traditional 'teachings' of the Lutheran Church, at least where thay have not yet been corrupted or omitted or ignored. Some of the simple teachings I am thinking of are 'three solas', the Apostles Creed and the Means of Grace. By design, the Scriptural truths of justification are clear in all of these and more.

As the Apostles Creed is removed from more and more Lutheran worship services, can there be doubt of what purpose is being served? As the Sacraments are hidden from view and removed from the main body of worship, is there really any wonder as to the intent? As the importance of 'Scripture alone' and 'faith alone' are diminished in the three solas, should we not be more concerned? All of these, in their own way, are facilitating a slow but certain rewrite of the the Scriptural truth of justification.

God's Word clearly teaches that we are justified by faith. And God's Word doesn't change.


LPC said...

Pr. Paul,

Thanks for bringing out Hardt's work into this discussion. I wanted to dig into his work but never found the time. I am glad you found the time to examine his work and to relate it to this debate.


Mr. Douglas Lindee said...


I couldn't agree more. Though I've been preoccupied over the past couple months with pressing business concerns, I have definitely been keeping up with the dialogue on IL. What amazes me about the dialogue between Rev.'s Lawson (ACLC) and Rydecki (ELDoNA) over the past couple months is that, FINALLY, there is an open, calm and coherent discussion on this serious matter (a matter which is clearly NOT settled, but which, it is now fully apparent, has been disputed off and on for 400 years) between two capable disputants who are respectfully disposed toward one another in public. I met Rev. Lawson, very briefly, while attending the 2013 Colloquium and Synod of the ELDoNA, and he struck me then, as he does now, as simultaneously a thoughtful steady man, and a man of conviction. While these characteristics naturally go together, one might not get that impression from the manner in which this issue has been discussed in other forums. Certainly, one would not get that impression by reading the accounts of Schmidt -vs- Walther.

I no longer find it odd that such a thing does not, and will probably never, happen in WELS – on this or any other consequential matter of doctrine or practice – and have entirely ceased looking for or expecting that any such thing will ever happen among them. There is a continuing strident refusal to openly discuss important matters. Rather than find it odd, I recognize it for what it is – as a foreboding cultic tendency. People who get sucked into cults lose their self-identity – their concept of self becomes indistinguishable from the group, and apart from the group's leadership they feel as if they have no guidance and no hope. Positional authority is a psychological weapon among such leaders, and they use it to retain the dedication of their followers and to urge them toward greater productivity in the interest of the group. I'm beginning to see now, what I denied existed when my friends and family first warned us about this sort of thing when we joined WELS over a decade ago.

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment.

That isn't to say that Confession isn't important. In fact, it is because Confession is such a critical matter that we all must be diligent to make certain that our Confession is True. As stated many times on this blog, a person's Confession proceeds from the convictions of his own Conscience – the seat of his self-identity – as an expression of what he is convinced is True. For the Christian, his self-identity is bound together and inseparable from his identity in Christ and the teachings of Scripture. Since our knowledge of the Truth is imperfect, and since our convictions change with time and experience, this means that an individual's Confession needs to continually be reaffirmed, for, as we have also stated on this blog, when he is called upon to make Confession, he is not speaking to his friends, but is standing before his executioner. Confession and Martyrdom are terms that are defined relative to one another:

Those who cheerfully confessed Christ before the heathen magistrate at peril of life, but were not executed, were honored as confessors. Those who suffered abuse of all kinds, and death itself, for their faith, were called martyrs or blood-witnesses.
(Schaff, P. [1996]. History of the Christian Church (Vol. 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. [Reprinted from the fifth edition of Volume 2, originally published in 1889]. pg. 76.)

And we Lutherans have always recognized the connection of Confession to Martyrdom. This is what Luther did when he stood before the Roman Emperor and representatives of the Pope at the Diet of Worms, maintaining his Confession and refusing to recant. This is what the German Princes did when they presented their Confession to the Roman Emperor and representatives of the Pope at Augsburg. Indeed, this connection remains part of our Rite of Confirmation in which we expect our confirmands to give the following oath:

Do you, as a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, intend to continue steadfast in the confession of this Church, and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?
(The Lutheran Agenda. [1946]. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. pg. 24)

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment.

As a layman, I can tell you for a fact, there is no way in the world I could stand before my executioner on the grounds of UOJ. Die over that doctrine? No way. I have no sure foundation on which to defend it. It claims that on account of Christ's work, "God has already DECLARED the whole world of sinners – each and every individual who has or who will ever exist – to be righteous and forgiven before Him", but it cannot adduce a single passage of Scripture where it quotes God having made this universal declaration. This is significant, because the only foundation for my Confession that I would have to offer my executioner as a defense, would be the very words of God Himself, as He has preserved them in the Bible; but nowhere is this "declaration", to which some Lutherans would bind my conscience as the centerpiece of the Christian religion, to be found in its pages. Instead of Scripture, I would be forced defend such a confession by descending into philosophical jibber-jabber, replete with paradox and fantasy.

On the other hand, the attestation in Scripture for the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is to be found practically everywhere, in direct positive – and thus also CLEAR – terms.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:13-18)

...Baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (1 Peter 3:21-22)

I am justified by faith, and this is what saves me from eternal condemnation. Apart from faith I am not forgiven; quite the opposite, apart from faith I am condemned. I know that I have been given saving faith, and thus also righteous standing before God and eternal salvation, NOT because of the strength of my convictions (which, in my human weakness wax and wane), but by the objective fact of my Baptism through which the promises of Jesus Christ are conferred. And there can be no question that I was baptized – I have documented proof, signed by the witnesses who were in attendance and notarized. In times of distress, when my faith is weak, I don't look to some universal declaration of God that is nowhere recorded in the Scriptures; I look to my Baptism and the promises clearly attending it, and thus know that God has given me faith, and with it forgiveness, life and salvation.

ReWood Products, LLC said...


A fitting conclusion to your words by focusing on Baptism. From my youth, I was taught by Lutheran pastors and teachers that the gift of Baptism is faith, and through faith, justification and forgiveness. After reading your words, I went back to the Large Catechism to reread the words regarding Baptism. Strong clear words, some of which follow ...

"so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved"

"Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. But to be saved. we know. is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever. "

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water."

"Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith."

I don't see faith being minimized in these words. I don't see faith being referred to with such words as "merely faith", as I have heard from some theologians who advocate universal justification. From these words I see faith as God's gift that is essential to our justification and our salvation.


Rev. Rob Lawson said...

Dear Pastor Rydecki,
I'm finally getting around to a response (wouldn't want you to think I've yielded the field after only one post!). There is an awful lot in your post to respond to (not your fault since the Hardt quote I posted was long itself). So, I think I'll just stick with one thing.

I think you're missing Walther's point. He was simply pointing out that the degree to which the faculties rejected Huber had some variance. Wittenberg (and, I take it, from your post today, finally also Tuebingen) adamantly rejected Huber's position on universal justification, while Wuerttemberg simply rejected the difference in terminology. Okay, fine. As you point out, it doesn't really matter. The fact is, all three faculties did reject him. Nevertheless, their (salutary) reason for that rejection is not at issue in the present controversy, nor was it at issue for Walther.

It's not as if theology stopped with Hunnius, or even John Gerhard, though. Walther was writing 250 years after the Huberian controversy, after the church had gone through battle with Enlightenment theology and Pietism. He himself had to contend with foes in the absolution and election controversies (the election controversy btw, provides a contrary example of how a theological concept - in this case "God's election in view of faith" - that could be seen as orthodox at its origin, had to be rejected 250 years later because its modern proponents were doing something unorthodox with it that its originators didn't and wouldn't have. Hunnius appears to be the originator of intuitu fidei. You'll correct me if I'm wrong about that, but I've never read of such a formula in Luther's writings, or in the Confessions. Gerhard embraced the concept as well. F.A. Schmidt would later use Hunnius and Gerhard to lend credibility to his unorthodox doctrine of election. That being the case, not just the terminology, but the substance of it had to be rejected, with all due respect to the venerable fathers).

Huber's worst error was that he taught universal election and that was a defect that tainted his whole theology. He also taught that it did not take divine action for an individual to come to faith to receive the universal justification that he was speaking of. It is obvious that Huber taught a universal SUBJECTIVE Justification. THAT was what was objected to. Walther objected to it. We all object to it. The fact that Walther's teaching on OJ (and ours) bears some similarities to Huber's (and even uses the same words at times) matters not, because his (and our) doctrine diverges from Huber at precisely the point where Huber is condemned - at the point of using OJ as a synonym for universal election and as a cover for asserting man's free will to accept God's justification.

Rev. Rob Lawson said...

continued ...

It won't do to simply engage in the "guilt by association" fallacy and summarily condemn all the words of those who teach OJ simply because they sound similar to those of a condemned man (isn't that what Eck did with Luther? Luther was even bolder with regard to John Hus than we are wrt Huber. He said that there was much in the writings of John Hus that was acceptable to Christ, so Eck accused Luther of heresy because "the church" had condemned Hus for heresy).

Even if Huber's doctrine sounds similar to our doctrine of OJ, so what? It only sounds similar. Nor does that fact that Huber taught an errant OJ mean that the Bible doesn't teach any such doctrine. For instance, if you are going to insist that the only type of Justification that exists with God is the one we call SUBJECTIVE Justification and hence, any talk of Justification in any other connection is a fiction, what do you do with the fact that the Bible speaks of Justification in another context even as early as Isaiah 53:11: "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities." The word "many" here means all. When one speaks of those who truly believe they are the "remnant" or the "few" ("Many are called, few are chosen"). This is the reason that any of us can be certain that we are saved. It was only John Calvin that intruded doubt into this by saying "many, not all," but technically all sinners are "many" in contradistinction with Christ the "one." All of humanity is the "all": if you set Christ aside this all becomes "the many."

Hunnius is simply not the last word on this subject, but it appears to me that you have virtually made him the last word. There is theology after Hunnius (and Gerhard). Walther acknowledged that the orthodox Lutherans did not speak like Huber because of Huber's errors. But without Huber he thought they would have. They did later on. What do you make of Calov saying: "Christ's resurrection took place as an actual absolution from sin (respectu actualis a peccato absolutionis). As God punished our sins in Christ, upon whom He laid them and to whom He imputed them, as our Bondsman, so He also, by the very act of raising Him from the dead, absolved Him from our sins imputed to Him, and so He absolved also us in Him" (Bibl. Illust., ad Rom. 4:25; quoted in Pieper, vol. III)?

Even earlier and more clear (with regard to a "universal" absolution), Gerhard: "... Some bring in here the apostolic teaching in 1 Timothy 3:16, God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit (namely through the resurrection by God the Father), that is, he was absolved of the sins of the whole world, which he as Sponsor took upon himself, so that he might make perfect satisfaction for them to God the Father. Moreover in rising from the dead he showed by this very fact that satisfaction has been made by him for these sins, and all of the same have been expiated by the sacrifice of his death" (Gerhard, Disputationes Theologicae [Jena, 1655], XX, p. 1450 [translated by Kurt E. Marquardt])?

After you presented your paper at the colloquium, I asked you if you had dealt substantively with the absolution and election controversies in the Synodical Conference and what might have led Walther et alii to use language (and substance) that bears similarities to Huber. You just sort of dismissed my inquiry at the time, and there wasn't time to pursue it (though I could have during the break). I would still like to see you deal with this.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pr. Lawson, my (again too lengthy) reply is here:

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