The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, December 4, 2016

From 2007 - Answering - Universal Objective Justification versus Justification by Faith Alone



Word and Sacrament, by Norma Boeckler

Joe Abrahamson has left a new comment on your post "Robert Preus, Again":

[GJ - I will answer each question separately, within brackets.]

Dear Pr. Jackson,

I'm trying to understand your own understanding of UOJ. Do you make a distinction between the sinners whose debt Christ paid, on the one hand, and the sinners that are forgiven through faith, on the other hand?

[GJ - We are all sinners. Justification by faith means that those who believe in Christ are declared righteous. There is no statement of "God declaring the world righteous" in the Scriptures, the Book of Concord, or the major Lutheran theologians.]

Note that I am quoting Dr. Robert Preus,
who is quoting Calov and citing him.


My own understanding is that UOJ is the debt Christ paid and Subjective Justification is a term used to distinguish those who benefit only through faith in Christ's vicarious atonement through the Means of Grace alone.

[GJ - UOJ is so fatuous that people are allowed to believe it is a synonym for the Atonement. Your sentence immediately above does that. I thought so too when I first read Pieper. A system of dual justification, UOJ and SJ, did not exist until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.]

Is it true that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (II Cor. 5:19) My understanding of "world" is everyone. that is, Christ paid the debt of every sinner.

[GJ - One should not confuse reconciliation with justification. Justification by faith is the only justification in the Word of God. The UOJ system means that everyone is forgiven twice.]

Preus admired Quenstedt for his precise language.
This quotation takes care of all objections to Justification by Faith.
Calov and Quenstedt make me think they are
arguing against the UOJ of Pietism, Rambach, and Knapp.


Is it true that "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) My understanding of "world" is the same as just stated.

[GJ - John 3:16 says that God loved the world, not that He declared the world righteous. This is another clear passage about justification by faith being founded upon the universal Atonement of Christ. The Promises of God create faith in the listener. The believer receives and enjoys what the Gospel offers. Thus the invisible Word and the visible Word are called the Means of Grace. Grace without means = Enthusiasm.]

Is it true that "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5) My understanding of "those who were under the law" is all of sinful mankind, just as Paul writes "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." (Romans 3:19) By this I understand in context that the whole world is guilty under the Law, because even if they didn't have the written Law of God they still had their imperfect conscience, which bears witness against them. Therefore all are under the Law of God, and because in Galatians he states "those who were under the law" therefore all are paid for, "redeemed." That is not to say that all benefit. It is just to say that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient for every sinner who has lived or ever would live. The benefit is only through faith, which has been historically described under the locus of Subjective Justification or Personal Justification.

[GJ - Redemption is not justification. Redemption is one English word for two Greek verbs. One Greek verb means release. The other means paying the price. In both cases redemption is a synonym for Atonement.]





Is what Luther wrote on the 5th petition in his Larger Catechism true? "88] Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and to pray: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer (for He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept such forgiveness." My understanding of this is that "without and before our prayer" means that the price of forgiveness has been paid whether or not a person benefits from it (my understanding of Objective Justification), and that praying the Lord's prayer is a confession of faith in that forgiveness (Subjective Justification). Though the Lord's Prayer may be uttered by a hypocrite, it does not invalidate neither the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice nor the promise of forgiveness available to the unrepentant.

[GJ - The above example is typical in confusing Atonement with justification by faith. It is important to emphasize the efficacy of the Atonement apart from works or merit, which is what Luther taught in the example above. Even the most ardent UOJ advocates have to admit that there is no UOJ in the Book of Concord. Yes, this passage is used from time to time, but the attempt to retrofit UOJ into the Book of Concord fails.]



Christ gives an example of Himself when he says "But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." (Luke 6:32-36) Christ's explicit implication is that he paid for all, even those who would not believe and rejected him. Salvation is not "in view of faith." Because faith does not originate with sinful mankind. But the clear implication of Christ's words is that He did pay for every sinner, even if they would not benefit through faith.

[GJ - Once again Atonement is confused with justification by faith. Christ paid for the sins of the world when He died on the cross. The Gospel justifies those who believe and moves people to glorify God through good works. The statement about "in view of faith" does not make sense to me. I know UOJ advocates have used that episode and Limited Atonement from Calvinism to support their arguments, but the effort is futile. Faith comes from the preached Word, which is effective both in converting and damning. Those who reject the Gospel harden their hearts against the Word of God.]

Furthermore, Paul writes "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:6-10) Is it true, then, as Paul writes, that our sins were paid for before we were brought to faith through the word and sacrament? Paul distinguishes between the payment for all sin (termed UOJ by some theologians) and what is called Subjective Justification in the same Lutheran theologians, that is, salvation through faith alone.

[GJ - Romans 5 is central to the issue of justification. The entire passage should be quoted, starting with "Therefore, since we are justified by faith..." I do not find Paul stating anywhere, "Therefore, since we are justified without faith, without the Word, without the Means of grace..." The section of Romans 5 selected above is a clear statement of the universal Atonement. What better way to create faith than to remove any notion of merit?]



I know that Luther was a sinful human capable of error, but in trying to clearly understand what you are teaching regarding UOJ what do you think of the following quote from Luther: "Christ did indeed suffer for the whole world; but how may are there who believe and cherish this fact? Therefore, although the work of redemption itself has been accomplished, it still cannot help and benefit a man unless he believes it and experiences its saving power in his heart (Plass #2203)

What I understand as UOJ is what Luther describes as "Christ did indeed suffer for the whole world." What I understand as Subjective Justification is, in Luther's words "it still cannot help and benefit a man unless he believes it and experiences its saving power in his heart."

[GJ - Lutherans would be better off if they dropped the SJ/UOJ business. The two paragraphs above are consistent with the Book of Concord and the Scriptures, except there is no declaration of the world being righteous (Brief Statement). Therefore, UOJ is a fantasy from the Pietism of Walther.]



I believe that you are rightly reacting to an abuse of the doctrine of UOJ. And that abuse of this doctrine can mislead people into carnal security. But so far, what I have seen of your writings does not object to the Bible's teaching that Christ has paid for all sin and every sin.

[GJ - My objections are to the false doctrine of UOJ. The effects of UOJ are obvious in the ELS, WELS, LCMS, and ELCA.]

I sincerely want to understand you correctly and to avoid logomachy.

And I want you to know that you and your family are continually in my prayers. Thank you for your work.

[GJ - Thank you. All the materials are posted or linked on this blog. The biggest concentration is in the justification chapter of Thy Strong Word.]

Sincerely,

Joe Abrahamson (Marty's classmate)

[GJ - I remember. God's blessings to you as you continue to study the Word and the Confessions.]

The Synodical Conference and ELCA make Universalism
the Chief Article of Christianity, but the Scriptures, Luther,
the Book of Concord, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard,
and many more knew and taught
Justification by Faith as the Chief Article.