I once read a quip about the visible Christian Church, something like this -
"Jesus established the Gospel to be taught by the Church, but once the Church discovered itself, it never stopped talking about itself."
That was a critique of institutionalism which is even more poignant today, because most of the talk is about the denomination and not about the Gospel. That by itself is alarming, because the clergy and laity have become quite articulate about their little corner of the world, which is much smaller and insignificant than they imagine. The clergy and "approved" laity have also become foggy, confused, and anti-Biblical about the Gospel itself.
Pastor Nathan Bickel made a great observation about the Universal Objective Justification Stormtroopers - they stop at the Atonement and make that apply to justification, which is utterly false. They do not even realize or read about the mainline Protestants adopting universal salvation without faith as an expression of God's grace.
Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has left a new comment on your post "Imputation Is the Foundational Issue - Says A. Ber...":
Ichabod - Thank you for highlighting, A Berean's excellent comment. Yes! The word "Imputation," is at the forefront of this universal objective justification controversy and discussion.
Luther correctly said: "Where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation."
But it is here where the universal objective justification enthusiasts [UOJE] get tripped up, and never do get to first base:
UOJE [Universal objective justification enthusiasts] become hung up on the Atonement as a "be all" and "end all." They would rather just view Christ's universal sacrifice for sin as the one time imputation to the human soul. Their basic view of imputation is that when Christ died and rose; - that is what Luther talked about - "Where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation." To them, that is the sum and substance of imputation. Hence, this is why UOJE often don't highlight the Holy Spirit's work in the salvation process. [John 3:8 in context] They essentially diss (ignore) faith. They bypass faith and actually believe that with the forgiveness of sins brought about by the Atonement, - that has brought [as Luther put it] "life and salvation" to all. So, then, their understanding is all based around the Atonement; that Christ's sacrifice was imputed, - not, faith.
On the other hand, those of us who believe Scripture, (and, the Confessions, concur); we believe that we, (by God's grace) are justified by faith. [Ephesians 2:8-9] We believe that the faith the Holy Spirit creates in us is imputed to us. We could almost use the words "infused" and "continually dispensed." Luther put it this way in his explanation of the 3rd Article of the Apostles Creed:
"In which Christian church He daily and richly forgive sins to me and all believers......"
Finally, I will point to an illustration, using an analogy. [And, I realize that no analogy is perfect]:
The universal objective justification crowds are stuck on the Atonement. To them that is their priceless "auto body."
But, the car doesn't travel (anywhere) without wheels and fuel. Hence, the Atonement without its (Holy Spirit) "imputation wheels & fuel" is useless. Without the Spirit's wheels and fuel, the human soul cannot personally partake of and benefit from Christ's all encompassing Atonement. Nor, (without Holy Spirit wheels and fuel) will that human soul travel to heaven. All that, though, does not matter for the universal objective justification enthusiasts still stuck in their Atonement auto. To them a car without wheels and fuel is a perfect and complete auto.
Nathan M. Bickel
Readers - this forgiveness and salvation without faith is not a new development. Salvation without faith was taught by Schleiermacher at Halle University, the home of Rambach and Knapp, Tholuck and the founders of American Lutheranism.
The General Council that broke from the General Synod struggled with Pietism versus the Book of Concord and mostly left Pietism behind, but the rationalism that always grows with Pietism came back in the ULCA merger of 1917-18. Hence ELCA is 100% rationalistic, the terminal stage of Pietism.
Unfortunately, Walther and his gang had to lie about their origins and hide their extreme, morbid Pietism. On one hand, they promoted a lot of studies of Luther and the Reformation. But on the other hand, Walther and his chosen acolytes adopted the Stephan episcopal model and his Halle justification without faith, the Easter absolution of the entire world.
Magic and UOJ Are the Misdirection of the Eyes
I enjoyed buying and trying some magic tricks. They all depend on getting people to think one way and losing their focus. Magic is often summed up as misdirection of the eyes. With the right practice and deft movement, an audience can be left gasping.
Once I made smoke come from my fingers. I told the audience it was smoke, but they were just plastic filaments. "Ooooh."
I pressed two special coins together, which made one disappear. Don't laugh - that launched my university teaching career.
Jay Webber, who loved Halle's Rambach and an even more obscure Pietist (Quistorp), hates the precision of Justification without Faith.
The UOJ Stormtroopers want everyone to look at grace - "Oooooh" - while they take away faith, the Means of Grace, Luther, and the Book of Concord. Their UOJ is nothing but misdirection of the eyes - look at forgiveness and ignore the fancy footwork.
A second display of prestidigitation is the necessity for having a bishop, a perfectly good Biblical term used to abuse, dazzle, and enslave other people. In the Episcopal view, the institutional Church is defective without the title of bishop. As everyone knows, the chief problem with The Episcopal Church, USA, is the bishops, especially the Presiding Bishop, who can borrow millions to sue the under-bishops, priests, and even the lay leaders. The former PB, Katie Schorie, destroyed her own denomination with this power.
One hesitates to mention that the North American Episcopalians and ELCA-ELCiC Lutherans had three top female bishops at once, a short time ago - Katie Schori, Liz Eaton, and Susan Johnson. Being a bishop is more important than what St. Paul taught about women usurping authoring and ruling over men in the Church. Pshaw, that does not count anymore.