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Shadows of Divine Things

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This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wright on Justification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Part 3)

While I focused my attention of Wright’s view of Paul's justification in Galatians, in his work What Saint Paul Really Said Wright also delineates his views of Paul's justification in the epistles to the Philippians, Romans and Corinthians. However, Wright is very brief and to the point on each of these letters; but he does have commentaries on several of these letters providing more detail about the text than what he provided in What Saint Paul Really Said.

Summing up this section of his work, Wright provides three categories that he thinks Paul’s view of justification entails; Covenant, Law Court, and Eschatology. Here is how Wright describes each:

  • “Covenant. Justification is the covenant declaration, which will be issued on the last day, in which the true people of God will be vindicated and those who insist on worshipping false gods will be shown to be in the wrong.”

  • “Law Court. Justification functions like the verdict in the law court: by acquitting someone, it confers on that person the status ‘righteous’. This is the forensic dimension of the future covenantal vindication.

  • “Eschatology. This declaration, this verdict, is ultimately to be made at the end of history. Through Jesus, however, God has done in the middle of history what he had been expected to do—and, indeed, will still do—at the end; so that the declaration, the verdict, can be issued already in the present, in anticipation."

[All three of the above are direct quotes from What Saint Paul Really Said William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; 1997; (p. 131)]

These three categories are the thrust of what Paul is trying to communicate, especially in Galatians, regarding all those who believe the gospel message and are justified. As Wright explains, those who hear and embrace the gospel message as their own are demarcated as members of the true family of Abraham and thus their sins are forgiven them.

33 Comments:

Blogger David Wilkerson said...

I think your summaries are right on, but to bring out the significance for a Reformed gang of readers you (and Wright) would do better to tell them you are indeed throwing out the traditional doctrine of imputation. Not to worry. As you say that is not the gospel biblically (or its effect). Discussion of participation (in Christ language) would become more significant and the role of our righteousness (i.e. faithfulness to the new covenant, practical theology) would come to the fore which is good since we apparently will be judged one day for it. And above all ecclesiology would again become a concern of Reformed theology instead of being relegated to some irrelevant loci of systematics.

Your buddy,
Dave

12:05 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

On a side note, Gage mentioned Guy Waters, a former E.P Sanders student at Duke. I was in Sanders' (and Hays', Moody-Smith's) classes with Guy many times and talked briefly about this stuff. He was a PCA man through and through. Sharp on the languages, very quiet, and nice, but not shall we say "open-minded" in my opinion. Like many evangelicals he seemed to be attempting not to not be changed by a mainline education. 'Spoiling the Egyptians' I guess you might call it.

12:13 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

About the term righteous/ness....It needs to be shown to a defender of the Reformed position how the term is tied to a covenant. It means faithfulness to the covenant/or as Wright suggests the covenant standing itself. This is true throughout the OT. It is not a term for perfection as the Lutheran/Reformed camp would have it. This is how the Psalmist, Abraham, Moses, David, AND Paul can say they were righteous and of course sinners. Paul speaks of God's own righteousness and is referring to God's faithfulness to the promises to Abraham(Romans) not his perfection which makes us perfect. If you can't get past this basic definition then the rest of the discussion is indeed difficult because Reformed folk think they need this perfection and there is but one place and way to get it. They view themselves as individuals who must satisfy the impossible demands of the one true God instead of as Gentiles( who could never please Israel's God anyway) looking for the right god to worship and follow. The gospel announces who the true God is and repentance and baptism (actually) includes you in his chosen people and now you must perservere under his easy yoke (laws).

12:41 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

A Christian really must now go on to keep the new covenant in some sense. Not out of thankfulness as the Reformed would have it. Out of duty, necessity, your new nature, your enslavement to Christ. It is not Jesus job. Or at least not Jesus' job 2000 years ago. Jesus in you, now, if you will. Your union with Christ will be judged by God (and to some degree the church) according to the works of this life. I had a professor at Duke who called the reformed view of the atonement the "TidyBowl" view of Jesus. You know the commercial with the little bubbles going down the toilet saying "I work hard..... so you don't have toooooooooo" Its a real weak point of reformed theology in theory and definitely in practice. Our churches shape us so little in our culture to a large degree because of the passivity encouraged by the doctrine of imputation.

12:51 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

By the way I know this is not my blog, I am posting by Todd's invitation. Todd you pointed out in your postings but it needs to be pointed out how the ethnic/family of Abraham concern is the focus of Galatians and Romans. It is not about the chain of salvation, Romans roas, or ordo salutis (I haven't written or seen that term in years ah, memories). Paul is arguing for the inclusion of the Gentiles without the Torah. Here reformed folks must see that Law does not mean every good thing a perfect being would require, but rather refers specifically to the Jewish law, Torah and its markers. Here again Luther only believed in one God and therefore thought of the abstract perfection that was required of him personally.
Paul and his opponents know of many gods and are arguing about how you identify yourself and live as one of his chosen. The Judaizers can't see Gentile men (rememeber men only here, we're not even talking about how women are saved i.e. it's obviously not a meritorious work women can't do it!) accepted as Abraham's people with the foreskin. Gen17 is clear here if you are not circumcised you are out. Yahweh's people are marked. Paul's gentile converts are looking a whole lot like pagans with their diet, calendar, and penises. Importantly the Judaizers are not saying "do some good deeds" and then you will be justified, but rather change to our ethnicity and you will be justified. These aren't meritorious works being recommended by them but laws of the God of grace. (Next)

1:15 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

So Paul wants to establish that Gentiles can ignore Gen17 and still be Abraham's seed. Reformed folk might wonder "Who cares? I want to know how to be 'in Christ' because I need his perfection to be saved. They can keep Abraham if they want him. I am a gentile anyway. God loves us all. Everyone quit trying to make me a Jew." But Paul doesn't do that. He insists on sneaking his converts in as Jews without Gen.17 requirements for Abraham's sons. Now, how to do that? (Next)

1:28 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

In Galatians 3, Paul labors to show how the Gentiles are "sons of Abraham" not how they get to be viewed as acceptable individuals before a holy God, by works or by faith? The typical Reformed reading just ends up getting Abraham (and you) reckoned righteous by a meritorious act of faith (given by grace surely but why is it not a work? it's effort isn't it?). Paul instead attempts to show, as the writer of Genesis does, that Abraham kept the Torah (was righteous, remember covenant language here, not perfection language) without the Torah. He was reckoned righteous by the act, the work of believing without the Torah yet in Gen 15 (Moses' Law is prefigured in Gen 17 circumcision and is no doubt where the Judaizers were hanging out). Similarly Paul's Gentiles believe (in Christ) without the Torah like "Abraham the believer" of Gen 15. This shows they were the nations blessed with him when his semen was blessed (v.9). So Christ must come and die for those under the curse of Torah (the Jews) so v.14 the blessings might finally go to the Gentiles (or else they remain cursed not because they are imperfect and trust in works but because all idolaters are cursed by Yahweh).

2:11 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

If that wasn't convincing Paul tries again starting at v.15. He shows that the promise was made to Abraham's 'one seed' not to the 'many seeds'. The one seed is Christ not the many Jewish children. And if the promise was made to Christ then all of those, even Gentiles, who are in Christ receive the promise. Who is in Christ? That's easy, those who are now baptized into him and clothed in him (3:27). But aren't they just many seeds too? No because 3:28 says all classes of people are 'ONE in Christ Jesus'. Get it? They are the 'ONE' that was blessed in Gen 15 before the law of Moses came (prefigured in Gen17). (So v.28 is then not an out of context verse about women's liberation or freeing of slaves, primarily, but rather ties into the argument so far) And if they are the ones blessed then of course they are Abraham's heirs(v.29). And this needs to be the case because God made the promise to Abraham not to Christ. No Yahweh without Abraham, thus the fighting and spilling of ink.

2:56 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

We are so far from the works/faith fight of the 16th century. The concern is obviously with God's faithfulness to Abraham and its relationship to Israel's Torah. Do they go together or not? Paul indicates here that the Torah was given to Israel (not simply rules were given us) to lead?, teach?, and curse them until faith came. The faith wasn't revealed yet(except to Abraham, of course, Paul's cheating). Paul implies in v.20 and more clearly in Romans 3 that since there is one God there is one people of God. But the Law clearly separates God's people from the Gentiles, so since the Spirit of God is clearly going out to the Gentiles as well (Gal 3:2) the Torah must for the most part go away (see Acts 15). This is historical/eschatological talk not directly applicable to us today in our coming to faith after these events nor could those before have forseen it. Abraham is not being used as an example of how to be properly saved by faith not effort or works. Rather Abraham is being used to legitimate the Christian Gentiles standing in the covenant(their righteousness) by showing they too may be 'reckoned' as Torah keepers without Torah. They, not Jesus, will keep the law by their love as 5:13 shows and fulfill the law of Christ chapter 6:2. Not out of thankfulness but because they are a 'new creation' 'walking by the Spirit' of the coming age not 'the flesh' of the last age.

3:19 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

So why is Paul so incensed about combining circumcision with Jesus? Is it because it's an attempt to merit God's favor by one's own work rather than through Jesus' works? No. But because it seeks to ally one's self as an heir by grace with a people who are not the heirs by a sign of a covenant that is under a curse and only brought sin and exile as intended. You are seeking to ethnically obtain that which is given you freely(without regard to status, i.e. no boasting except about Christ) in your inclusion/participation in Christ. The Law didn't bring the returned Kingdom to Israel, but rather the eschatological deliverance came through Jesus. So the Law was mostly just a curse that brought Israel's death and remains so forever for those who wait for (the new) life under it. In Christ Israel's freedom is realized; circumcision is a return to slavery, Egypt, and exile. Tomorrow a bit on Romans 3-4.

3:28 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

David said, "I think your summaries are right on, but to bring out the significance for a Reformed gang of readers you (and Wright) would do better to tell them you are indeed throwing out the traditional doctrine of imputation. Not to worry. As you say that is not the gospel biblically (or its effect)." I am glad to see the advocate of NPP clearly throw out imputation. How is it that someone who is commanded to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect stands before God, without being clothed in his Righteousness? It seems to me that it was Paul's desire to not have a righteousness of his own, but instead wanted to be found in Christ righteousness, a righteousness that comes FROM God and is by faith. (Phil 3:9)

David also said, "We are so far from the works/faith fight of the 16th century." It seems to me that my understanding at least, of the NPP is the idea that the first century jew was not trying to establish a righteousness of his own, and was not trying to be justified by works. If that is not the correct NPP understanding then please advise. But if it is, then how do you explain Jesus own understanding of the "historical context" of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? One was trusting in his own righteousness (Pharisee) and one went home justified (Tax collector). One was counting on his own works and one was counting on the mercy of God.

David said, "The typical Reformed reading just ends up getting Abraham (and you) reckoned righteous by a meritorious act of faith (given by grace surely but why is it not a work? it's effort isn't it?)." I think this is a severe mis-understanding of reformed thought. It seems to me that the Reformation never thought of faith as a meritorious work. It seems to me to be a straw man to say as much. It seems to me that the reformation taught that faith is the outstretched hand of the beggar who receives a free gift. If the analogy were pressed, then the reformers would say that the hand of the beggar was pried open, and the free gift was then placed in the hand of the beggar by the Spirit (ie... regeneration). To argue that the Reformation thought of faith as a meritorious act is simply wrong.

David also said, "Paul instead attempts to show, as the writer of Genesis does, that Abraham kept the Torah (was righteous, remember covenant language here, not perfection language)." Is it also covenant language for Christ to say, that we are to be "Perfect" as our Father in heaven is perfect? What does righteous mean? To strip the word of its meaning and apply to it some idea that it doesn't mean perfection, but "really" means a badge of covenant membership seems odd. Would you mind parsing the word to tell me how it has a connotation that doesn't imply perfection?

8:45 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

"How is it that someone who is commanded to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect stands before God, without being clothed in his Righteousness?"

I just typed a lenghty reply and lost it! So briefly, we are indeed clothed in Christ as Gal 3 says with our baptism and inclusion in his people. We are therefore holy (perfect) just as God is and just as Israel ideally was. Perfection of the sort you have in mind was never required but simply obedience to the law which provides for the forgiveness of sins. Israel already knew of this command to be holy as God is and thought it obtainable. There was no Lutheran despair except collectively in exile and not really then. (They despaired of God's faithfulness not their own.) We are indeed righteous without Torah because we participate in Christ's righteousness. This is shown to be actual not declared by Christ 'living in us' as Gal 2 as said.

The NPP is not seeking to dispense with Christ in some way and say rather 'Judge me by my works as a good guy.' It is seeking to speak the way Paul talks of actual inclusion in Christ. It is exegetically and historically driven. Secular scholars were coming up with this apart from Christian scholars. There is no ecumenical agenda driving it I assure you.

The rigor of perfection and the ethical demands of the Sermon of the Mount reflect the one- upmanship of 'who can exceed the others righteousness' of various sects of Judaism in the first century and before that we have record of. The Christians and Pharisees were obviously at each other throats and it comes through in the Gospels. We know they were still worshipping together in many places at this time. In any case the Sermon can't have meant "wink, wink, I'll just impute it to you". That sort of reading and 'Pharisees as Pelagians' has just become impossible for scholars now due to the increase in understanding of 1st century Judaism.

I think grace is not imperiled in this way of reading it. But I do think our own works are more coherently included in the whole package. It is more consistent with a smooth reading of Paul's thoughts in Rom and Gal. It jives with the OT theology and Jesus teaching (always a problem for Lutheran and Reformed thinking) better. And it situates the early church in the same discussion being had among all Jews of the 1st century.

12:31 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

"It seems to me that it was Paul's desire to not have a righteousness of his own, but instead wanted to be found in Christ righteousness, a righteousness that comes FROM God and is by faith. (Phil 3:9)"

The "of my own" has to be compared to similar talk in Romans 10:3-4 where the Jews clearly want to be confirmed by the Torah without the Gentiles. They are not Pelagian, but claiming ethnic privilege which might have been legitimate until Christ came representing Israel 'the son of God'. Paul counts his righteousness (covenant standing) under the law as loss not because it was imperfect indeed he brags a little about it. But no more. Deliverance(from exile curses) came through Christ so he wants to be found in (participating in) the righteousness (covenant standing)that comes from God to those of faith (without Torah). Circumcision counts for nothing anymore to him. Anytime you see the word faith you might as well include "without Torah" because that's the point. It excludes Jewish boasting, it does not exclude our good deeds from our standing before God as the Reformation would have it.

12:42 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

"the first century jew was not trying to establish a righteousness of his own, and was not trying to be justified by works."

Correct in Reformation categories. They were not Pelagians. But Paul is saying they want a righteousness that is their own, ethnic, from the Law instead of the standing through Christ alone.

But in another way Jews and apparently Christians thought they would indeed be judged for their faithfulness to the covenant they had been included in by grace (provisions for sin and all). The Jews to Torah and Christians to Christ. James in fact uses the same Abraham episode (Gen 15) as Paul does to show the necessity of good works (Gen 24 shows the legitimacy of the earlier reckoning without circumcision). He has no trouble conflating justification by works and faith. But there is no Torah here. That's what matters. But the reformed always have had trouble with James as they would any form of Judaism in the first century included Jesus without the gospel of John.
Paul in Romans 2 seems to say only 'doers of the Law' will be justified and that his Gentile converts are indeed keeping that Torah against their nature (not Jews) and are therefore the true Jews. By chapter 8:1-5 we are fulfilling the requirement of the Torah now by the Spirit.

The requirement of works is not threatening to true adherents. God forgives them routinely, they are chosen, marked by signs of his covenant and set apart from the world (holy, perfect, complete). The sects tended to heighten the requirements. Some of that comes through in the NT. It still happens today. But it shouldn't make one rely instead on Jesus of Nazereth's work 2000 year's ago, but rather the work of his body (the church) today. It requires active engagement as James and even Paul says (in what are called, no doubt pejoratively by Lutherans, the ethical sections of his epistles).

1:12 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

"how do you explain Jesus own understanding of the "historical context" of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? One was trusting in his own righteousness (Pharisee) and one went home justified (Tax collector). One was counting on his own works and one was counting on the mercy of God."

The identities of the tax collector versus the Pharisee is significant. Its a symbolic story obviously. The Pharisee precisely the most ethically and ritually rigorous group claims its own ethnic privilege. This is no hypocrite. What he says is true it's virtually all in the Psalms. He is counting on God's promises to have mercy on Abraham's Torah-abiding descendants and give them the kingdom. But that day is over. Viewing the outsiders even Jewish tax collectors as "sinners"(group term not a moral term) because of their sloppy adherence or indifference to Torah was over. In Jesus' ministry the Torah breakers are included in the kingdom by repentance and following him. Many Pharisees apparently followed Jesus even in Acts. We know for a fact thanks to Sanders that they were not legalists. They simply couldn't understand how God could except lax-Torah followers (sinners). Neither could Paul for quite awhile and his explanations later aren't entirely persuasive to many then or now either.

1:29 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

To argue that the Reformation thought of faith as a meritorious act is simply wrong.


You are correct, but my point is that to avoid that implication they simply say that the faith is a gift given with regeneration. So now we are justified by regeneration, nothing we do at all (not even trust). This is getting obviously very far from whether Abraham was circumcised or not when he was blessed. It's not how Paul phrases it or anyone at all and Paul is being precise in what he means against Judaizers. Paul tells the Galatians 'you were regenerated by the Spirit through hearing the gospel proclamation, clothed in Christ by baptism, and now you are going to seek to be found in the covenant family of the those under the Law and its curse? Living out of your faith in Christ is all you need to be justified.' They are justified by their response of faith to the gospel. He doesn't oppose justification by 'doing something' versus justification 'by God doing something'.

On the doctrine of regeneration I think there is no disagreement except for perhaps its close tie to baptism and hearing. But Wright in interviews says he is a Calvinist "if pressed".

1:47 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

"What does righteous mean?"

It is no twisting of the word. Wright goes into this first thing in WSPRS. I remember Bruce Waltke lectures in OT to the same effect. Righteous is a covenant term. It is used constantly of flesh and blood people like you and me. Judah says Tamar has been more righteous than him. Not more perfect which is silly. Paul says he was righteous under the law. The Psalmist begs to be judged for his righteousness. People are even called perfect. God's righteouness is questioned. In Romans 3 Paul is not asking "So is God not perfect?" He is saying "So has God not been faithful with Israel" It is language tied to the Torah of Moses. Not an abstract virtue. But if you were just coming off of reading some Duns Scotus et al you could be forgiven for thinking so which is what the problem is with the Lutheran imputed righteousness. It is unnecessary, but hard to call just 'wrong' because its intent is clearly right. No one, not even Rome wanted to be a Pelagian. It is just not what the Scriptures are talking about. Wright is a musician and says Luther was slamming one finger of a piano chord very loudly. This is an exegetical argument not first an attempt to attack a form of theology.

I purposely make the argument more provocative than Wright to make it clear that it has huge ramifications. I found when I didn't that I would get "Ya, Calvin believed in the union with Christ too, so this is nothing new." Also I paid a dear price for these beliefs in ostracism, switching seminaries, denominations, a lost prospective mission position, confusion in my calling and a sermon preached against me to boot. So take none of this personally if it comes of badly. Thus ends my multi-part reply.

2:08 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

“And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psa 143:2).
“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom 4:7, 8).

The Ground of Justification

Paul argues from the words of David: (1) that righteousness is reckoned (imputed) to the believing sinner apart from his own works, and quotes from the Psalmist showing (2) that the believer's sins are not reckoned to him (see Psalm 32:1,2). The reason the believer's sins are not imputed to him is that they were imputed to Christ (see Isaiah 53, cf., I Peter 2:24,25).

To impute something to a person means to set it to his account or to number it among the things belonging to him -- to reckon it to him. If something is imputed to a person, it is made his legally; it is counted or imputed as his possession. To impute means to account, charge, credit, reckon, attribute, etc.

The twofold imputation of (sin and righteousness)
1. The believer's sins were imputed to Christ -- this is why He suffered and died on the cross (see I Peter 2:24, II Cor. 5:21). Christ became legally responsible for the believer's sins and underwent the believer's just punishment. By dying as the believer's substitute, He satisfied the demands of justice and forever freed the believer from any possibility of condemnation or punishment. When the believer's sins were imputed to Christ, the act of imputation in no way made Him sinful or polluted His nature -- it in no way affected His character; it only made Him legally responsible for those sins. Imputation does not change one's nature; it only affects one's legal standing.
2. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life -- He completely kept God's law. The personal righteousness worked out by Christ during His life on earth is imputed to the sinner the moment he believes. The believer is credited with Christ's righteousness and God views him as if he had done all the good that Christ did. Christ's obedience, His merit, His personal righteousness is imputed to (credited to, set to the account of) the believer. This in no way changes the believer's nature (any more than the imputation of sin to Christ changed His nature); it only affects the believer's legal standing before God.

3:32 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

David you said, "the first century jew was not trying to establish a righteousness of his own, and was not trying to be justified by works." Paul thought they were.
Romans 10:1-4 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of my fellow Israelites is for their salvation. For I can testify that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth. For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and SEEKING INSTEAD TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
(Not to establish that they are jewish) For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes.

David you also said,

"You are correct, but my point is that to avoid that implication they simply say that the faith is a gift given with regeneration. So now we are justified by regeneration, nothing we do at all (not even trust)." It's a false argument to say that. Of Course Trust! You know that the Reformers didn't teach justification by regeneration alone. But merely that a dead man (Eph 2:8-9) must be raised to life ie... (regeneration), and faith is indeed a gift to which the regenerate responds to the gospel with.

From everything I have heard from Todd, others on this blog and what I have read from Wright, it seems to me that the NPP’s view of justification is an ecumenical and ecclesiological issue, not a soteriological one. I think Steven on this blog told me as much. On Page 158 of WPRS:
“Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith impels the churches, in their current fragmented state, into the ecumenical task. It cannot be right that the very
doctrine which declares that all who believe in Jesus belong at the same table (Galatians 2) should be used as a way of saying that some, who define the doctrine of justification differently, belong at a different table. The doctrine of justification, in other words, is not merely a doctrine in which
Catholic and Protestant might just be able to agree on, as a result of hard ecumenical endeavour. It is itself the ecumenical doctrine, the doctrine that rebukes all our petty and often culture-bound church groupings, and which
declares that all who believe in Jesus belong together in the one family. . . .
The doctrine of justification is in fact the great ecumenical doctrine.”
In reading through Wright I asked myself the question, Is there any soteriological aspect of Justification? The problem I see with Wright is that there actually is a soteriological aspect of justification. (Therein lies the problem). I think it’s one of the main problems with Wright and the NPP. It seems to me that Wright divides justification into immediate and future aspects, and relegates the idea of personal justification into some sort of eschatalogical future, or some sort of final judgment (Vindication/Court Setting).

It seems to me that idea is wrong for two reasons: It seems to me that that for Wright, “Covenant Faithfulness” or “obedience” is the basis of final justification. (If I am wrong about that then please advise.) This means that the grounds of the ultimate declaration of righteousness is on the “covenant members” merit, instead of the grounds of justification being in the finished work of Christ. David you even said, "Living out of your faith in Christ is all you need to be justified." That's a theology of merit. All I have to do is live out my faith? The gospel is what Christ has done as my substitute! All I was supposed to do and could not do, Christ did!

Second, by dividing justification into immediate and future aspects, Wright has (much like Rome) made justification into a process. I think his view of justification is not as simple as the Reformed idea of the “now” and “not yet”. It seems to me to be different. It seems to me to be a process for Wright. I know it would be simplistic to say that Wright’s doctrine of justification is like Rome’s but it does seem to me that it does have more in common with the Council of Trent rather than Geneva or Augsburg.

On a personal note: I know you don't know me much... but for what it's worth- I too have been attacked and maligned in the Church. I feel for anyone who is not dealt with in a Christ like manner. Romans 15:7- "Accept one another then, just as Christ has accepted you." I'm sorry for the uncharitableness of men. But also know this- I feel just as strongly as you do about how important the argument is. However, we disagree on justification David. I see it like Luther, that it is the article on which the church stands or falls. I see it as the chief article. I don't see it as a secondary article of importance. Believe me, I take no offense in your disagreement with me. And I offer any and all apologies if I come off like an ego-maniac (*&^#... you know what I mean.) But my friend, it seems to me that there is indeed an attempt not to be Pelagian, but semi-pelagian issues being discussed in Wright. I laid those out in this post. While it is true that unlearned men accuse Rome of being Pelagian, I and classic and modern reformation folk, know that Rome is semi-pelagian... and thus the rub. It seems to me that all men are semi-pelagian...a kind of (God helps those who help themselves) mentality.) So if you understand the reformation, then you understand the importance I place on the Doctrine of the Imputed Righteousness of Christ as my grounds for standing right in the eyes of a Holy and Righteous God. To quote a theological hack...
"It is the most important thing in my world." (fyi- my quote- I'm the hack.)

4:12 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

David you said,
I had a professor at Duke who called the reformed view of the atonement the "TidyBowl" view of Jesus. You know the commercial with the little bubbles going down the toilet saying "I work hard..... so you don't have toooooooooo" Its a real weak point of reformed theology in theory and definitely in practice. Our churches shape us so little in our culture to a large degree because of the passivity encouraged by the doctrine of imputation.

David are you making the same argument that was brought up to Paul's gospel? "Well that can't be true... because if it was true, I could just keep on sinning." "Shall we continue in sin where grace may abound?" It seems to me that you are making that exact argument that Paul refutes in Romans 6. It seems to me that James Boice was right when I heard him say in Colorado Springs the year before he died..."If that objection (shall we go on sinning that grace may abound) doesn't come up, then you haven't proclaimed the gospel."

It seems you have the same objection to justification that Paul said would come up in Romans 6.

When I hear someone say, well if that's true- then "I can go on sinning that grace may abound" then they have rightly understood the gospel and imputation. But I dare say that the NPP gospel never receives that accusation, rather you poke fun at the doctrine of imputation, because "sin may abound" or to put it another way, I summarize your thoughts...
-that can't be true because our "churches do so little to shape the culture" as a result of that gospel.

4:28 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Gage declares:
"The Ground of Justification

Paul argues from the words of David: (1) that righteousness is reckoned (imputed) to the believing sinner apart from his own works, and quotes from the Psalmist showing (2) that the believer's sins are not reckoned to him (see Psalm 32:1,2). The reason the believer's sins are not imputed to him is that they were imputed to Christ (see Isaiah 53, cf., I Peter 2:24,25)."

Gage, in Romans 4 Paul is communicating the basis of "righteousness." He uses Abraham as an example of this, especially since the Jews were looking for righteousness through the Torah. Paul is saying that the only basis for Abraham's righteousness is that he believed God (4:3). In these passage, and this is very important, Paul quotes from Gen. 15:6, this is the second time Paul has used this verse from Genesis. The first time he used it was with the Galatians and their being threatened by the Judaizing heresy (Gal. 3:6). Note the text Paul uses in Romans (4:3) declares Abraham believed God not believed in God. All this is emphasizing belief not faith.

Thus Abraham’s believing God was reckoned to him as righteousness. The Greek word reckoned here is elogisthe meaning “it was reckoned or it was considered.” Paul is using this singular verb in the passive indicative aorist tense. This verb stems from the Greek word logizomai, which means “reckon”, “calculate”, “take inventory”, “count”, or even “consider,” none of these usages means “to cover” or “transfer” or “impute” (in the sense that the Luther would imply to it). It is usually always translated in this passage as “reckon” which is most closely related to “to consider.” Or possibly “credit” which would be more along the lines of “count.” Also, do you see in Romans 4:4 that “reckoned” is used again, only this time with regard to wages? Is Paul saying here that a person who works his wages are not “imputed” as a favor, but as what is due? That verbiage makes no sense at all. Paul is using an illustration of actual physical labor, and the money (wages) that someone is paid because he is due such money. What does this have to do with imputation? Nothing, and the same word is used. It is instances like these (and others) that have caused me to reconsider what Paul is communicating in this and his other Epistles.

Essentially Paul’s over all thought in Romans 4 (which evolves around Gen. 15:6) is God has never in the past and will never in the future “credit” righteousness on the basis of keeping the Law (Torah). However, in Galatians this is the same issue that is being dealt with when the Judiazers come around and say “you must be circumcised in order to be a true “person of the covenant” or a genuine “member of the Kingdom of God”; a focus that was clearly on “being righteous by Torah.” This is being emphasized by the Jewish Judiazers because they thought they had a higher standing before God than the Gentiles because the Gentiles were not circumcised.

The interesting feature about Paul’s example is the fact that he uses Abraham. Why not Moses, he was called righteous in the same sense Abraham was. Why not one of the Prophets, they were called righteous as well. There is, I think a two fold reason for Paul’s using Abraham. First, Abraham proceeded the Torah, and second, he was the first to ever be circumcised (an act that was a sign of God’s covenant, and an act that proceeded the Torah). So his actions could only be considered “righteous” due to his believing God and obedience to God and all that apart from the Torah.

Also (and with this I’ll stop for now), I really would like for you to explain why in Romans the very first instance of the word “justification” used by Paul in chapter 2:13 reads as follows – “It is not the hearers of the law who will be just (or righteous) before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” Why does Paul make this claim?

Once again, Gage, I do appreciate all your comments on these issues -you have given me much to think and rethink about!

5:41 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Todd, do you mean Abraham preceeded (not proceeded) the Torah- ie... 430 years before the Law came... Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness?

Me thinks you are turning the definition of imputation on its head.

Imputation:
A Transfer of benefit or harm from one individual to another. In theology imputation may be used negatively to refer to the transfer of the sin and guilt of Adam to the rest of humankind. Positively, imputation refers to the righteousness of Christ being transfered to those who believe on him for salvation. - Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms

Definition:
Imputation is used to designate any action or word or thing as reckoned to a person. Thus in doctrinal language (1) the sin of Adam is imputed to all his descendants, i.e., it is reckoned as theirs, and they are dealt with therefore as guilty; (2) the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them that believe in him, or so attributed to them as to be considered their own; and (3) our sins are imputed to Christ, i.e., he assumed our "law-place," undertook to answer the demands of justice for our sins. In all these cases the nature of imputation is the same (Rom. 5:12-19; comp. Philemon 1:18, 19). - Easton Bible Dictionary

There is no obscurity in the words, "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
- John Calvin (Institutes, 2.1.6).

Greek word logizomai. It is often translated “to count, consider, or impute.” It is a word that comes from the world of commerce and accounting and means “to charge” or “to reckon.” In Acts 19:27 Demetrius, a silversmith in Ephesus, spoke against Paul’s preaching by saying, “And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” Paul demonstrates his gracious spirit in 2 Timothy 4:16 when he tells of his indictment in the Roman court: “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.”

This truth is explicitly affirmed by Paul, who speaks of God's imputing righteousness without works, and of righteousness being imputed (Romans 4:6, Romans 4:11). The idea of the imputation of righteousness here is made clear by the context. The one who is declared righteous is said to be "ungodly" (Romans 4:5). Hence, he is righteous only by God's imputation of righteousness to him. This is also clear from the contrast between imputation according to grace and according to debt (Romans 4:4).

Philippians 3:9. The apostle here affirms that the righteousness which the believer in Christ obtains is directly opposite to his own righteousness. This latter comes from works of the law, whereas the former comes from God and through faith in Christ. It is, therefore, objective to man, comes to him from God, is connected with the work of Christ, and is mediated by faith in Christ.

Philemon- 1:18 "Now if he has defrauded you of anything or owes you anything, charge ( logizomai)what he owes to me."
Is impute a bad translation... to charge it to my account... to reckon it to me... put on account... etc.?

Our sin is imputed (put on Christ account),(reckoned) to Christ. Our guilt is imputed to Christ. Our lack of fulfilling the Law which deserves eternal separation from a holy God, is imputed to Christ. The penalty due us, is declared forgiven because of Christ, and received through faith in Him, apart from anything inherent in us, apart from works.

Our legal standing is the issue here. We have a stark choice when we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God has made Him to be sin for us. Either it is legal imputation, or it is a statement of His commission of sin. There is no other option. Our choice is between blasphemy (Christ is a sinner) and the (our sin was imputed to Christ) gospel. Imputation alone protects the character of Christ. Without it, Paul has said that Christ is a sinner, but with imputation He is the sinless sinbearer of the sins of others.

God laid our sins on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6). Sins are not material objects that have a certain size or weight. The load on Christ is an accusation He accepted for us, not a ton of bricks, but the verdict of "Guilty". The One without guilt, assumed guilt for us, so that He could take its penalty, so we could be relieved of the wrath of God. How does the real thing such as our personal sin and His righteousness, get transferred? By the gracious agreement of the Father and Son in a transfer called imputation.

We may speak of it as transferred charges, resulting in exchanged consequences, an accounting of the liabilities of one against the assets of another. It is not that Jesus just took our penalty, He took our place as guilty while being personally innocent. He never sinned, so how could He become sin for us, according to 2 Cor. 5:21? Sin outside His experience was transferred to His account. The Innocent One assumed the guilt of our sin, but not the commission of our sin. Who did it? I did. Who took it? He did. And so He was condemned and treated as the guilty one which He had legally become, so that the ones who committed the sins, might be legally justified and receive the treatment the righteous deserve. Thus guilt was transferred to Christ when sentenced for us, and the "sentence" of righteousness was transferred/imputed to believers.

"Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin" (Romans 4:8 NKJV).

If Christ righteousness is not imputed to the sinner who trust in God who justifies (declares righteous) the wicked... then I wonder what that does with the Federal Headship of Adam? Was Adam's sin not imputed to me and all of Adam's race, since Christ righteousness is not "imputed" to me?

I'll be back tomorrow on Romans 2.
Have to do school work and the Husband/Dad thing.

7:31 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

Gage I am aware of the theological system you're talking about. I remember it backwards and forwards from church and seminary. I could post rebuttal comment for comment but I think we are mostly approaching the issue with incommensurable systems. An argument won't convince here but rather a "conversion", a Kuhn-like paradigm shift. I remember one friend who was laying on the floor of the library receiving it like an ecstatic vision. I kid you not. In my experience, it takes an extended discussion face to face walking through numerous texts after much reading to make some progress. Interestingly I have never had trouble convincing someone I talked to in this manner. But I have chosen carefully! Or perhaps others have chosen their conversation partners carefully?! This issue is hot in seminaries now even in the one that sort of ran me out on a rail in the late 90's. (They chanted 'heretic' when I walked the stage at RTS.) Anyway, it will grow in popularity in the PCA, so people will get used to it as it trickles out from the seminaries. Its coherence in accounting for the biblical and historical record is its own defense. I think the concerns of Reformation theology are not exactly those of Paul, analagous perhaps.
If I could leave you with one thing to consider (besides read Wright's Climax of the Covenant and Romans commentary in New Interpreter's Bible commentary), it would be to figure out why ethnicity plays such a role in Paul's writing. For Paul if justification comes through Torah then God would be God of the Jews only, but since it is by faith God is proven to be the ONE God of Jews and Gentiles(romans 3:24-29ish). For the reformers, they might have wished Paul would say "If justification comes through the law, then God would be the god of perfect people only, but since it comes through faith sinners can be justified." Ethnicity is never on the radar, and thus much of Paul's discussion is ignored or misunderstood. You marvel that as a sinner God accepts you, but never question why Israel's god accepts you as a Gentile which is the problem which consumes much of Acts and Paul's epistles.

8:40 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Gage,
The problem I have with your practice of using isolated verses just to demonstrate that a particular Greek word is used (i.e. logizomai) in the sense you are declaring that it is used is not only dangerous to the text, but is the very thing the heretics of the early church did to "prove” their points (e.g. Arian did the same thing). Do not read anything into that comment, I am not calling you a heretic, nor am I implying that you are a heretic I am simply saying they did the same thing. So merely using single passages from the text does nothing for the overall context of Paul’s letters.

Simply stating that certain single verses use the Greek word you have in mind 1) ignores the entire context, and 2) demonstrates that you have to isolate texts in order to "show" that the word is used in the sense you think it is.

The Reformers define "imputation" as a doctrine that means that the righteousness of Christ is like a covering over an individual (i.e. a sheet, if you will), that when God looks at that individual He sees His own righteousness. Thus, the word, defined, is an actual "covering" putting something on top or over something.

However, when logizomai is used the connotation (implication) of the word is contingent upon the context. For example, look at Hebrews 11:19 – The verse reads, “He [Abraham] considered ( which is the wordlogizomai) that God is able to raise men even from the dead;” Same Greek word is used here – do you think this word means “impute” here? Because the way you are using this single word in the single texts that you throw out is a hermeneutic that demands that you do that every time (when you use it in that fashion). I cannot tell you how many times Dr. Tom Howe hammered us in our Greek and Hermeneutics classes for doing the very thing you are doing in your comments.

I am not denying that perhaps Luther (and you) are seeing logizomai as “imputation” in these verses. But, in the over all context of Paul’s letters, you have to do some “hermeneutical gymnastics” in order to explain other texts in light of the way you have interpreted the verses you isolate. This is also, very much so, the case when you get to the book of James. In one sense I cannot help but think that Luther wanted to take James out of the Bible because it simply did not jive with his notion of “imputation” the way he was applying to the other Epistles. Moreover, the commentaries I have read from contemporary reformed thinkers have really contorted and mangled in some cases, the over all text of James just to make it jive with their theology.

BTW, yes, I meant preceeded - that was a typo on my part.

9:03 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

Ok Gage, you knew it was too good be true. I have another closing thing to add. Please also consider the eschatological context of the New Testament. The coming of the Kingdom in the gospels, and the Spirit/Flesh language in Paul. And how can Paul be linked to the synoptic Jesus? This is a big hermeneutical/theological difficulty for NT theology. Paul is not describing individual soteriological processes(or if he is we have to agree with 19th century German liberals that he has morphed the faith of Abraham, Moses, the prophets, and Jesus). Eschatology is key. Wright is brilliant on this (see Climax of the Covenant). This eschatological context was not understood by the reformers and was only regained in historical scholarship in the late 19th century and even then didn't come into full bloom until Qumran studies and post-world war II studies of Judaism(of course holocaust guilt did lead to some sloppy scholarship but don't throw out the overall trend for that). For many reformed friends I know Herman Ridderbos's Coming of the Kingdom and also Outline of Paul's Theology are how they began to drift to the NPP. Ridderbos beat Sanders by 5-7 years to many of these insights and yet kept within the Reformed fold. His little book is called "When the time had fully come" on New Testament Theology it's essential reading at any reformed seminary. It is a small set of outstanding essays unlike his larger works which are great in parts but dense and easier to put down. I think it helps in the reframing of the approach to the NT and wouldn't arouse your suspicions as much as say N.T. Wright does. Also, I think Frank Thielman's Paul and the Law is great for reformed NPP people. It yields to nearly everything Wright or Dunn propose but closes ranks with Westerholm and others to defend imputation in Rom 4:4-5. Unfortunate in my opinion but at least not reactionary like so much from popular reformed writers.

Now, I promise that is all (unless of course you want to pursue a particular issue with me that actually intrigues you. I know I can be a bore). I really don't enjoy debate. I'll give you the last word.

Personal sidenote:
I believe we met 16 years ago at the Joshua's on Cooper. I was buying the Ryrie systematic theology (poor me) to start learning. We talked; I didn't agree with your Calvinism. Then we attended church together briefly 10 years ago, and here we are again arguing about your Calvinism. At least YOU are predictable (in the best sense of the word). It is easier on the mental/(spiritual?) state I assure you.

10:41 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Dave,
Your memory is better than mine... wow, 16 years ago... I thought of myself at Joshua's as a century guard, protecting against the marching advances of Arminianism.
(I'm not saying that was a good thing- I was sixteen, stupid and not very charitable). Hence, my Calvinism is less polemical today and a little more (irenic..spelling?

For the record... I am an un-ashamed "calvinist". Just nicer than I was at 16 years old.

Now back to the action:

David you said...
"An argument won't convince here but rather a "conversion", a Kuhn-like paradigm shift. I remember one friend who was laying on the floor of the library receiving it like an ecstatic vision. I kid you not." That reminds me of Joseph Smith's conversion experience...

You also said...
"This issue is hot in seminaries now even in the one that sort of ran me out on a rail in the late 90's. (They chanted 'heretic' when I walked the stage at RTS.)" That's awful- and not in any way acceptable.

You go on to say..
"Anyway, it will grow in popularity in the PCA, so people will get used to it as it trickles out from the seminaries."

I dare say that if the NPP on Paul truly "trickles" into the PCA then I will leave the PCA. It would be DISHONEST for anyone holding the NPP (which in my opinion is to deny the WCF Ch. 11) to be a part of, a member of, or an ordained officer in the PCA.

The WCOF Ch. 11 says,
"Those whom, God effectually calls he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God" – WCF Ch 11

For anyone who holds to NPP, denies imputation, and therefore denies WCF Ch 11, to seek to be a part of PCA Church of any other Presbyterian Church would be nothing but Dishonest, in my opinion. That would be like a closet Baptist trying to be ordained in the PCA or vice-versa.

If they deny justification as outlined in the WCF, they need to stay out of Presbyterianism. It is not acceptable to take an exception on Justification as outlined in the WCF.

Note: I am not arguing the validity or non-validity of WFC Ch 11- (although I agree with the WFC), but what I am saying is that it is wrong to try to be a part of a denomination to holds this as the Biblical truth of justificatiion.

Any and all persons who deny WCF Ch 11- who are trying to be a part of the PCA or any other Presby denomination need to be Anglican.

If I held to NPP and NPP's view on justification and imputation, I would run from any Presbyterian denomination, PCA, OPC or RPC, etc.
Note- all these denominations have as their confession the WCF.

Personally, I would lead the charge against anyone trying to be a part of the PCA, who deny's imputation and holds to the NPP. I do not advocate slander of NPP proponets, nor do I advocate hatefulness... my point is that my conviction as to what it means by being Presbyterian is un-waivering.

I want to stress that I would not lead the charge against NPP proponets trying to be a part of the PCA on the grounds that they are out of the pale of orthodoxy. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that they are not Presbyterian, as outlined in the WCF. (Example: Baptist's are in the pale, but not in alignment withe the WCF, nor are Wesleyans etc...)

Also, I am not putting the WCF as the sole rule for faith and practice, no, that is the Scripture (sola scriptura). What I am saying is that it seems to me to be dishonest to be a Presbyterian if you deny WCF Ch 11.

Since I Know someone on an presbytery ordination and examination committe... when NPP comes up and (and it does) and that canidate holds to NPP and denies WCF Ch 11- they are not received for ordination. It has happened in a local PCA Presbytery that I know. That ordination committe in those instances simply tell those canidates, that they should seek ordination in another denomination.

In other words...
If you are not Presbyterian- don't try to be. Be Anglican.

This is my "last word" so to speak, simply because of the Law of diminishing returns. I have enjoyed it- and since I am not counting on a "religious experience" to change your mind, I will now bow out, and be as the deist, "View From a Distance" as the Bette Midler song puts it.

11:14 AM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Todd,
Here is my exposition of Romans 2. This will serve as my last post at least for a while... It seems that I am beating a dead horse, and I'm sure you and other observers feel the same way.

Simple Outline
I. Jews Will Not Escape God’s Judgment (2:1-11)
A. God Judges according to the Truth (2:1-4)
B. God Judges according to Works (2:5-11)
II. Jew and Gentile Alike Will Be Judged Equally and Fairly (2:12-16)
A. The Basic Principle of Impartiality (2:12-13)
B. The Application to the Gentiles and All Men (2:14-16)

Exposition
2:12-13
In vs-12-13 Paul explains the implications of v. 11 where he said that there is no partiality with God. Since this is true, the Gentile will not be judged by the law, but will perish apart from the law, whereas the Jew who had the law of Moses will be condemned by that law. Thus vv. 12-13 prefigure what the apostle will say in 3:9-20, namely, that all are guilty and will be punished according to God's justice.
But the Jew should not think that just because he was given the law that he is necessarily exempt from judgment, for it is not the one who has repeatedly heard the law read and taught on the Sabbath who is righteous, but only those who do the law will be declared righteous (dikaiwqhvsontai, dikaio?the?sontai). To be “declared righteous” does not mean “to make righteous,” but rather to be given a righteous standing before God even though one is still a sinner (5:1). It is only those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Paul could either mean that their obedience is evidence of justifying faith or hypothetically if a person could obey the law perfectly he would be declared righteous. If the latter is the idea, that person does not exist, as 2:17-29 makes plain (cf. also 3:9-20).


With that said, Todd- I leave you with this-

Our legal standing is the issue here. We have a stark choice when we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God has made Him to be sin for us. Either it is legal imputation, or it is a statement of His commission of sin. There is no other option. Our choice is between blasphemy (Christ is a sinner) and the gospel(our sin was imputed to Christ) . Imputation alone protects the character of Christ. Without it, Paul has said that Christ is a sinner, but with imputation He is the sinless sinbearer of the sins of others.

"Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin"
(Romans 4:8 NKJV).

Soli Deo Gloria

11:23 AM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

"Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account."
(Romans 4:8 NASB).

Gage states:
"Our legal standing is the issue here. We have a stark choice when we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God has made Him to be sin for us. Either it is legal imputation, or it is a statement of His commission of sin. There is no other option. Our choice is between blasphemy (Christ is a sinner) and the gospel(our sin was imputed to Christ) . Imputation alone protects the character of Christ. Without it, Paul has said that Christ is a sinner, but with imputation He is the sinless sinbearer of the sins of others."

Thank you for your thoughts Gage - the above is a good point which I will delve into quite eagerly.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

11:54 AM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Reading back over your comment that I pointed out above, Gage. When I say I'll delve into this quite eagerly I meant the verse you are using - 2 Cor. 5:21 to prove your point - "Either it is legal imputation, or it is a statement of His commission of sin. There is no other option. Our choice is between blasphemy (Christ is a sinner) and the gospel(our sin was imputed to Christ)."

But once again, this is why I asked you in a different thread of comments if you thought imputation is the gospel - which you answered by saying "no, imputation is not the gospel - however, re-reading your above comment several times - you have contradicted yourself here by claiming that the gospel is imputation - "the gospel(our sin was imputed to Christ)"

These are, in fact, the "difficulties" that always seem to raise their ugly head in single verse quoting and applying entire doctrines to that single verse.

1:52 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Okay, the gospel is the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Do you deny that there are certain aspects of that formula that have to be maintained? For instance... Doesn't Jesus have to be Perfect and the God-Man? If you believe that Christ had to be perfect as the God-Man, I would not accuse you of believing that perfection is the gospel. That would be silly. What I’m saying about imputation is that it's a necessary aspect of the gospel Todd. In the same way that the deity and humanity of Christ is necessary for the gospel, etc.

The issue is: if Christ did not bear the sins of his people, as the sinbearing substitute (by imputation), then there is no gospel Todd. Here’s why- (If my sins were not imputed to Christ then I am still in my sins because Christ died on the cross as a sinner if no sin was imputed to his account, ie... reckoned to his account).

In 2 Cor. 5:21- Christ is either my sin-bearing substitute, or then Christ is indeed a sinner. God laid our sins on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6) (another verse that speaks of Christ bearing sins)
Is. 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (NIV) Or, 1 Cor. 1:30- “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
Is. 61:10- I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (NIV)
You know good and well that I didn't acquire a doctrine of justification, and the imputation of Christ' righteousness from one verse. I guess in your hermeneutics, one cannot bring up a verse or a couple of verses for discussion? You did the same thing to me with Romans 2 asking how I understood it. (Contradiction works both ways Todd.)
Isa 53:6 is clear enough if you don't like 2 Cor. 5. How about Romans 4:6-8 “So even David himself speaks regarding the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account." (For David and Paul- forgiven = covered) Covered in what? Surely not covered in his badge of being in the covenant community, rather clothed in a robe of righteousness (Is. 61:10).
Other imputation verses-
1 Sam. 22:15 - "Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair." (NAS)
Ps. 32:2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity. (NAS) Interesting- Paul quotes Ps. 32:2, in Romans 4:8- and the NAS translators use the word impute in Ps. 32:2 translated take into account in Romans 4:8.
Romans 5:13 Until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (NAS) Lev. 17:4- And does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the LORD in front of the tabernacle of the LORD, bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people. (ESV) 2 Sam. 19:19- [ David’s Mercy to Shimei ] Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan. Then he said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart. (NKJV)
I’m curious to know Todd, should I look at Genses 1:1 and say that we cannot determine from that verse that God created the Earth. Or should I could look at John 1:14 and say “well it seems to me that the plain reading is that Jesus, “the Word” became flesh, but I can’t prooftext, so I’m not sure about the Humanity of Christ” That would be silly would it not?

Hence... the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things.

To say that Christ was my sin bearing substitute, by imputation is to speak of the gospel. Imputation is not the gospel, it's too much short hand... but it is most certainly a part of the gospel.

It is not that Jesus just took our penalty; He took our place as guilty while being personally innocent. He never sinned, so how could He become sin for us, according to 2 Cor. 5:21? Sin outside His experience was transferred to His account. The Innocent One assumed the guilt of our sin, but not the commission of our sin. Who did it? I did. Who took it? He did. And so He was condemned and treated as the guilty one which He had legally become, so that the ones who committed the sins, might be legally justified and receive the treatment the righteous deserve. Thus guilt was transferred to Christ when sentenced for us (laid on Him Is. 53:6), and the "sentence" of righteousness was transferred/imputed/reckoned to believers. (Romans 5:9 - Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath.)

Membership in God's family flows from justification but is not its meaning.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, then may I in him be found; Dressed in his righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.

Amen.

Elvis has left the building

4:25 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Gage,

Like David said, I know the reformed view, the biblical texts, etc. backwards and forwards - you are not telling me anything I have not already heard, considered, or studied. Albiet you have misunderstood a few of my points.

You declare: "I’m curious to know Todd, should I look at Genses 1:1 and say that we cannot determine from that verse that God created the Earth. Or should I could look at John 1:14 and say “well it seems to me that the plain reading is that Jesus, “the Word” became flesh, but I can’t prooftext, so I’m not sure about the Humanity of Christ” That would be silly would it not?"

The above is simply an absurd distortion to what I was declaring about "verse quoting" without context. I made it quite clear that context was crucial, but never declared that quoting a single verse was necessarily wrong unless you built an entire doctrine around it and ignored its context.

Along the same lines as what you are saying above regarding Gen 1:1 and John 1:14 - it would be like me quoting John 6:53, "Jesus therefore said to them, 'Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.", . . . and then tell you that this is literal, since it actually says you must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus, therefore why do you not believe transubstantiation? It says it, right there in the text - the actual body and blood of Christ.

The same principle applies, Gage, and yet you would never embrace that Catholic doctrine which is built around that text. Why not? It is the same hermeneutical principle you are using.

I appreciate the comments, but I have nothing else to add and frankly, it has become fruitless anyway.

9:41 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger David Wilkerson said...

Todd, I think one observation I have in reading a series of proof texts is "Wouldn't it have been nice if Paul had just said it that way?" That's another strength of the NPP. It encourages reading Paul straight through and accounting for what he says the way he said it even if some things remain obscure. The NPP (and this is crucial) is not a (anti-reformed)theological exercise with texts scattered hither and yon. It is an exegetical exercise in reading Paul as a first century Jewish religious figure embedded in that context not Wittenburg. The NPP rarely attempts to systematize this stuff. That is left to fools like you and I.

If Paul never says our sin was imputed to Christ, we don't say it and thereby misuse a Pauline term. It is enough to say like Paul 'Christ died for our sins.' If every text with 'reckoning' never talks about a single thing of Christ's being given or considered ours (except insofar as we participate "in Christ", and share in his life, 1COR1:29), the NPP simply doesn't say Paul must mean that.
Nor importantly is the NPP bound by theological rules that say Christ can't become sin since that's indeed what 2COR5:21 says. And Paul simply says it again in Gal 3:13 that Christ became 'accursed' for us because 'Cursed is anyone who hangs on the tree.' The Law curses him. That's why it is scandalous to Jews to have a crucified Messiah. It's really scandalous, no need to take the edge off. He is clearly put to shame and abandoned on the cross and dies (also something God's not supposed to be doing...tsk,tsk, maybe it was simply a 'declared' death?).
Elsewhere Paul might say Christ took death, sin, and his enemies captive, tricked them and left them in the grave.
But here in 2COR5:21 Paul also says we become (not get)the righteousness(covenant faithfulness) of God and that's not declared either. Paul just said we have been given the ministry of reconciliation and that it is as if God is speaking through us to the the world i.e. we are performing his faithfulness to all of his ('new') creation. Then ch6 begins "And working together with God". The context is ministry vocation not soteriology minutiae.
Otherwise it's a lightning bolt out of nowhere. That verse, 2Cor5:21, does not have a logic all its own, exclusive of the surrounding context to be filed in the WCF under the appropriate chapter. Joining it to other Pauline texts, ok maybe, if analogies warrant it after reading it in context, but going to Isaiah without Paul's permission is dangerous stuff. Especially by word links which is what I think you meant Todd. You were warning about the danger of 'word studies'. Just my two cents - expanded due to inflation while I wrote.

12:08 AM, March 04, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

David declares: "Nor importantly is the NPP bound by theological rules that say Christ can't become sin since that's indeed what 2COR5:21 says. And Paul simply says it again in Gal 3:13 that Christ became 'accursed' for us because 'Cursed is anyone who hangs on the tree.' The Law curses him. That's why it is scandalous to Jews to have a crucified Messiah. It's really scandalous, no need to take the edge off. He is clearly put to shame and abandoned on the cross and dies (also something God's not supposed to be doing...tsk,tsk, maybe it was simply a 'declared' death?)."

This is a very good point David. In fact, I have gone back to Luther's works and begun to re-read his theology of the Cross - some of which I will post in the next few days. However, Luther would agree with your comments above emphatically.

3:25 PM, March 04, 2006  

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