Thursday, November 7, 2013

Exploring Huber - The Dialogue Continues

(Continued from the dialogue in this post and subsequent comments.)

Lawson: I'm finally getting around to a response (wouldn't want you to think I've yielded the field after only one post!).

Rydecki: Not a problem at all. In fact, I’m sure you’re also busy putting together an evaluation of the ELDoNA theses, and I would rather that take precedence over your dialogue with me. But I am thankful for the dialogue!

Lawson: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.

Rydecki: Please correct me if I’m wrong, Pr. Lawson, but isn’t the Württemberg faculty the same as the Tübingen faculty? Isn’t Tübingen the capital of Württemberg, and therefore, just two different ways of referring to the same faculty? As far as I can tell, there is no “third faculty” that simply rejected the difference in terminology.

Lawson: Nevertheless, their (salutary) reason for that rejection is not at issue in the present controversy, nor was it at issue for Walther.

Rydecki: It seems to me that it is at issue, because, regardless of the various aspects of Huber’s doctrine that may be different from that of Walther (and their teaching is obviously not identical), the Lutheran Church rejected Huber’s exegesis of Romans 5 and 2 Cor. 5 which led him to teach that all men have been justified and that God has “not imputed sins” to all men. These are the same passages used by Walther and the Synodical Conference to teach that all men have been justified and that God has “not imputed sins” to all men. That the Lutheran Church never taught such a thing (because the Scriptures do not teach such a thing) is the very issue at hand.

Lawson: It's not as if theology stopped with Hunnius, or even John Gerhard, though.

Rydecki: I don’t think anyone has claimed that “theology stopped.” The problem is that the theological paradigm of justification changed from Wittenberg to Walther.

The basic Lutheran paradigm for justification from the beginning and continuing through the controversies with Huber (indeed, the Christian paradigm since the time of the Apostles) is: (1) God, in His grace, sent His Son to redeem our fallen race. (2) Christ made satisfaction for the sins of all and earned righteousness for all, so that (3) whoever believes in Him has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and, thus covered in the righteousness of Christ, sinners are justified before God.

The novel Waltherian paradigm for justification is: (1) God, in His grace, sent His Son to redeem our fallen race. (2) Christ made satisfaction for the sins of all and earned righteousness for all. (3) Therefore God has already justified/absolved/declared all men righteous. (4) Whoever believes that all men have been justified becomes a personal recipient of the one-time justification of all men.

Or, to approach it from another angle, the historic Lutheran understanding is: (1) God imputed the sins of all to Christ, who suffered and paid for them all. (2) God imputes the righteousness of Christ to believers in Christ / does not impute sins to believers in Christ. (3) God still imputes sins to all unbelievers.

The Waltherian paradigm is: (1) God imputed the sins of all to Christ, who suffered and paid for them all. (2) In this very act, God was already “not imputing sins” to all men and imputing to all men the righteousness of Christ, as He views all men “in Christ.” (3) At the same time, God does impute sins to all men, as He views all men “outside of Christ.” (4) The righteousness of Christ is imputed individually to believers in Christ.

Would you agree with the Waltherian paradigms as I have outlined them here?

Lawson: 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 .

Rydecki: That’s a false premise. If it was an orthodox expression 400 years ago, it didn’t “have to be rejected.” It just needed to be explained correctly and not in an Arminian way, since faith is among the eight things that the Formula of Concord tells us must never be excluded or omitted “when we speak about God’s purpose, predestination, election, and ordination to salvation.”

Lawson: 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.

Rydecki: So, are you saying the substance of Hunnius and Gerhard’s teaching concerning election was orthodox or heterodox? If the substance of their teaching was orthodox, how can you say “the substance of it had to be rejected”?

Lawson: 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.

Rydecki: And what was the “universal justification” that anyone else at the time was speaking of?

Lawson: It is obvious that Huber taught a universal SUBJECTIVE Justification. THAT was what was objected to.

Rydecki: OK, you got me here. I have no idea what a “universal subjective justification” is. Has someone defined that somewhere? Could you explain it without using the words “objective” or “subjective”?

As I understand “subjective justification,” it is the individual reception of forgiveness, life and salvation by faith, no? Those who are “subjectively justified” (according to Walther) are going to heaven, right? But we have already seen from Huber’s own words that Huber’s universal justification did not teach that individuals "possessed" these benefits, and that Huber denied that all people are eternally saved and taught that all people still needed to be justified by faith (even if such was not said to be a work from God).

I also don’t think it’s helpful to put words into the mouths of those who wrote against Huber. They did not object to “universal subjective justification.” They objected to his teaching that God had justified all men equally, and to his teaching that God has “not imputed” sins to all men, based on 2 Cor. 5.

Lawson: 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.

Rydecki: Did you notice what I wrote in the post above about the three accusations against Huber? Yes, he was condemned for asserting that justification by faith was not a divine work (I don’t know if he talked about free will). He was also condemned for teaching a universal justification in the first place, in which God had already justified all men. On what do you base your claim that the Tübingen theologians agreed with Huber on the universal justification part?

Lawson: 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?)

Rydecki: Actually, I (and the diocese) have done precisely the opposite of this. Who has summarily condemned all the words of those who teach OJ simply because of their similarity to Huber? On the contrary, we have pointed out similarities in terminology and teaching (and we recognize dissimilarities as well) in order to examine these teachings under the light of Scripture and the Confessions, and we are using the arguments of the Lutheran Church of the 1590’s to further illustrate the Lutheran paradigm of justification and how it differs from the Huberian paradigm and from the Waltherian paradigm. The fact that the Huberian and Waltherian paradigm overlap at various points is part of the picture. Walther’s intentional adoption of a pattern of words that was previously condemned by the Lutheran Church also necessitates further review and inquiry. But in the end, Walther was not wrong about his general justification because of its similarity to Huber’s general justification. He was wrong because the Scriptures and the Confessions only know of a justification that happens through the Word, as sinners are brought to faith in Christ and faith is imputed for righteousness in God’s sight.

Lawson: Even if Huber's doctrine sounds similar to our doctrine of OJ, so what? It only sounds similar.

Rydecki: That’s a claim that will be hard to substantiate based on the similar usage and interpretation of the Bible passages that supposedly teach OJ, like Rom. 5 and 2 Cor. 5.

Lawson: Nor does that fact that Huber taught an errant OJ mean that the Bible doesn't teach any such doctrine.

Rydecki: That's true. The fact that the Bible doesn't teach any such doctrine means that the Bible doesn't teach any such doctrine.

Lawson: 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:

Rydecki: Actually, the Bible speaks of justification much earlier: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Lawson: "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."

Rydecki: Huh? I’m sorry, but that is really convoluted logic. The word here is "many." The context does not necessitate interpreting it as "all." "Many" may refer to all, or it may simply refer to "many" as opposed to "few." The Church is not always referred to as "few." Sometimes it's referred to as "a great multitude which no one could number" (Rev. 7:9).

How about this? We let the word “many” inspired by the Holy Spirit in Is. 53:11 mean “many.” Period. Not a few. But “many.” And we let it refer to the same justification by faith that all the other Scripture passages talk about, letting the words mean what they say and letting Scripture interpret Scripture.

Then we’re left with something like this: “By the knowledge of Jesus (that is, by the many knowing what He will do/now has done) many shall be justified (by faith in Jesus, all to the glory of Jesus and not at all to their own glory). And He shall bear their iniquities (so that it may be so).”

And if we’re looking for an argument against the Calvinistic limited atonement, then we go to those passages that clearly and expressly make the atonement unlimited (Jn. 1:29, 1 Jn. 2:2, etc.).

Lawson: Hunnius is simply not the last word on this subject, but it appears to me that you have virtually made him the last word.

Rydecki: Actually, Hunnius, Leyser, Gesner, the Tübingen theologians, Gerhard, et al.

Lawson: There is theology after Hunnius (and Gerhard).

Rydecki: Where such theology is different than the theology of the Christian Church that preceded it, I think we refer to such theology as “novel.” There is a reason why confessional Lutherans bind themselves to the pattern of words in the Book of Concord. We’re sure that the theology contained therein is reliable, because we have tested it against Scripture and found it to be so. I have no such certainty with regard to Walther and the pattern of words and the exegesis of Bible passages he borrowed from Huber.

Lawson: Walther acknowledged that the orthodox Lutherans did not speak like Huber because of Huber's errors. But without Huber he thought they would have.

Rydecki: I wonder if he also thought they would have agreed with him on Rom. 5 and 2 Cor. 5, contrary to their expressed words and interpretation of those passages. It’s easy to speculate that dead theologians would subscribe to one’s doctrine. It’s another thing to prove it.

Lawson: 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)?

Rydecki: I refer you to Appendix 4 of the Forensic Appeal to the Throne of Grace essay, the section entitled, “Gerhard’s ‘absolved us in Him’ phrase,” where it has already been demonstrated that Gerhard (and Calov after him) was referring to believers only in the “us” who have been absolved, and even then, as we (ELDoNA) state in our Thesis 11 on Justification:

For example, to say, “Christ was absolved in the resurrection,” is to employ an illustration that is not truly apt, as an ‘absolution’ declares one innocent in spite of one’s guilt and inability to pay for his transgressions, but the Christ’s ‘justification’ is, rather, the vindication of One who both is innocent by nature and by conduct and who has paid for the sins of all others. The fact that the Christ was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and bore our sins as His own (Psalm 69:5) does not require Him to be absolved, since, again, He was not forgiven for our sins (forgiveness requiring someone else to pay the debt). Instead, He Himself paid the debt.

Lawson: 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"

Rydecki: There is no “universal absolution” in Gerhard’s words. First, he says, “Some bring in here…” If “some” bring it in here, then obviously not “all” bring it in here. Are we really searching for the very foundation of justification and the very object of our faith in what “some” have “brought into” a discussion on a given passage? That’s hardly something to stake my soul on.

Second, see the above Thesis 11 on Gerhard’s use of the word “absolved” here.

Third, 1 Tim. 3:16 doesn’t say, “absolved of the sins of the whole world.” It lists “justified/vindicated in the Spirit” in a whole list of non-vicarious statements. To make this one phrase into a vicarious statement is an extrapolation for which we will not condemn Gerhard or anyone, but we certainly will not accept it as a proof passage that “all men have already been absolved by God.”

Lawson: 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.

Rydecki: And again I will put you off, because this response has been lengthy enough. But it is not a dismissal of you. You haven’t set forth anything in this regard except for a question. If you have some teaching or explanation to set forth from the absolution/election controversies, please share it. I will be happy to read it.


Brett Meyer said...

Certainly a classic discussion between one confessing UOJ and another JBFA. A willingness to address each contention and not avoid is as necessary as a thorough study of all available material.

Ecclesia Augustana addressed the issue of mere (in reality exactly the same) similarities between Huber's condemned doctrine and the doctrine of UOJ ruling the Lutheran synods.

LPC said...

I am a bit annoyed that just when the discussion was getting warm, Lawson drops the subject of election in the middle, which makes his response an engagement in red herrings.

Hunnius may not be the last word on the subject, it is not a matter of who is last. The crucial point is this - did Hunnius respond to Huber through a rigorous process of interpreting Scripture. That is the point. If it appears that Hunnius is last word, it is because Huber's stance is shown to be ridiculous.

Lawson can not have it both ways - either Huber was correct or in error. In his aversion to Hunnius, it appears by default he is not supports Huber. I see no argument from Lawson that appeals to naked Scripture that proves that God HAS ALREADY declared the whole world righteous. He is offering none in this discussion.

UOJers should realise that they share something in common with Calvinists, they share with them of lumping the Atonement with Justification as one and the same event. I see a shadow of this in the appeal and argument that went on in the mention of Isaiah 53:11.

Lawson still thinks this is just a matter of one authority over the other, but it is not!

What this is about is that UOJ is historically of the same cloth as Huber's doctrine and Rydecki has shown by his research that such teaching was rejected historically by the BoC signers.

The last comment of Rydecki is appropriate. Indeed, for I see Lawson's arguments as mere dislike for Hunnius and that is all there is to it. There was no Scriptural defence of UOJ, no exegesis of passages or anything like that, just a poking around on the armour of Hunnius.

LPC (Lito Cruz)

Post a Comment

Comments will be accepted or rejected based on the sound Christian judgment of the moderators.

Since anonymous comments are not allowed on this blog, please sign your full name at the bottom of every comment, unless it already appears in your identity profile.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License