Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Robert Preus - Justification and Rome



From Luther versus the UOJ Pietists: Justification by Faith:



Dr. Robert Preus is known for advocating UOJ in the 1980s, when Concordia Seminary in Ft. Wayne was also deep into Church Growth Enthusiasm.[1] In his last book, edited after his death by his sons Daniel and Rolf, his clear stance against UOJ is obvious.

When does the imputation of Christ’s righteousness take place? It did not take place when Christ, by doing and suffering, finished the work of atonement and reconciled the world to God. Then and there, when the sins of the world were imputed to Him and He took them, Christ became our righteousness and procured for us remission of sin, justification, and eternal life. “By thus making satisfaction He procured and merited (acquisivit et promeruit) for each and every man remission of all sins, exemption from all punishments of sin, grace and peace with God, eternal righteousness and salvation.”[2]
But the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner takes place when the Holy Spirit brings him to faith through Baptism and the Word of the Gospel. Our sins were imputed to Christ at His suffering and death, imputed objectively after He, by His active and passive obedience, fulfilled and procured all righteousness for us. But the imputation of His righteousness to us takes place when we are brought to faith.[3] 
Quenstedt says, It is not the same thing to say, “Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us” and to say “Christ is our righteousness.” For the imputation did not take place when Christ became our righteousness. The righteousness of Christ is the effect of His office. The imputation is the application of the effect of His office. The one, however, does not do away with the other.  Christ is our righteousness effectively when He justifies us. His righteousness is ours objectively because our faith rests in Him. His righteousness is ours formally in that His righteousness is imputed to us.[4]

The Enthusiasts often mention Calov as their champion, knowing that almost no one has access to Calov’s books. Preus, who knew this period of Lutheran orthodoxy quite well, quoted this statement from Calov with approval, which is worth repeating -

Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God's children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe.[5]

I understand these two passages to be a repudiation of UOJ and an apology for all the harm done in the name of that fad.



[1] "In an initial burst of enthusiasm reflecting Preus's concern for missions, the Fort Wayne faculty had petitioned the 1977 convention of the Missouri Synod to have each of its subdivisions or districts ‘make a thorough study of the Church Growth materials.’ What is more, the districts were to be urged to ‘organize, equip, and place into action all of the Church Growth principles as needed in the evangelization of our nation and the world under the norms of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.’ By the time of the 1986 synodical convention, however, the same faculty, while appreciating the ‘valuable lessons of common sense’ to be learned from Church Growth, asked that ‘the Synod warn against the Arminian and charismatic nature of the church-growth movement.’ Kurt E. Marquart, "Robert D. Preus," Handbook of Evangelical Theologians, ed., Walter A. Elwell, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995, pp. 353-65. Reprinted in Christian News, 6-26-95, p. 21.                                                
[2] R. Preus footnote: Systema, Par. II, Cap.3, Memb. 2 S. 1, Th. 44 (II, 363). Cf. Abraham Calov, Apodixis Articulorum Fridei (Lueneburg, 1684), 249: “Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God’s children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe.” Justification and Rome, footnote 74, p. 131.
[3] Robert D. Preus Justification and Rome, St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press 1997, p. 72.
[4] Systema, Par. III, Cap. 8, S. 2, q. 5, Observatio 19 (II, 787). R. Preus footnote #76, Justification and Rome, p. 132.
[5] Apodixis Articulorum Fide, Lueneburg, 1684. Cited in Robert D. Preus Justification and Rome, St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press 1997, p. 131n.                                                                                           

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CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
NEWSLETTER – Spring 1981
6600 North Clinton
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

THE PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE – "OBJECTIVE JUSTIFICATION"

The doctrine of objective justification is a lovely teaching drawn from Scripture which tells us that God who has loved us so much that He gave His only [sic - missing Son?] to be our Savior has for the sake of Christ’s substitutionary atonement declared the entire world of sinners for whom Christ died to be righteous (Romans 5:17-19).


Objective justification which is God’s verdict of acquittal over the whole world is not identical with the atonement, it is not another way of expressing the fact that Christ has redeemed the world. Rather it is based upon the substitutionary work of Christ, or better, it is a part of the atonement itself. It is God’s response to all that Christ died to save us, God’s verdict that Christ’s work is finished, that He has been indeed reconciled, propitiated; His anger has been stilled and He is at peace with the world, and therefore He has declared the entire world in Christ to be righteous.

Spring, 1981, Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne Newsletter.


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GJ - Note that Concordia Seminary was swooning from the exotic perfume of the Church Growth Movement while Preus was declaring the entire world forgiven, without faith, without the Word, without the Means of Grace.

Later, Preus and Marquart were quite critical of the Church Growth Movement, and Preus clearly repudiated UOJ late in life.

Rolf Preus and Jack Casione want this passage to disappear down the memory hole.

I believe the passage quoted above, from Justification and Rome, does a fine job of defining what justification is and what justification is not. That is the essence of a confessional stance, defining the positive and rejecting any and all false variations.


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Brett Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Robert Preus - Justification and Rome":


I'm glad you footnoted a comment on the harm done by the teaching of UOJ in the Lutheran Synods.


The nature of this false doctrine, as with all false doctrine, is that it never remains within the confines of the womb that conceived it. It has grown and morphed into a dozen different variations so that the greatest offenders in the promotion of UOJ, such as (W)ELS DP Buchholz' 2005 Conference paper, have to repudiate portions of other UOJ teachings within his own denomination. Buchholz went so far as to repudiate his own statements within the same conference essay in which he made the contradictory statements. Now there's UOJ teachings coming from (W)ELS school teacher's "condemning anyone teaching justification by faith alone" and "the whole world is saved, just not heaven saved".


(W)ELS' own Our Great Heritage (Vol 3) states, "And yet many Lutherans still labor under the delusion that God does not forgive us unless we believe. Instead of seeing faith as nothing more than the spiritual hand with which we make the forgiveness of God our own, they see it as a reason why God forgives us. They believe that Christ has indeed provided forgiveness for all men, that God is willing to forgive them, but before he really forgives he first of all demands that we should be sorry for our sins and that we should have faith. Just have faith they say, and then God will forgive you. All the right words are there. The only thing wrong is that the words are in the wrong order. God does not forgive us IF we have faith. He has forgiven us long ago when he raised his Son from the dead." (p. 59)


How long will the (W)ELS laity allow the Synod administrators and school systems to abuse and pervert the central doctrine of Christian faith - leading their children and families away from the true teaching of Justification by Faith Alone. They've built their foundation on sifting sand and it's eroding.


In Christ,
Brett Meyer
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