Saturday, May 14, 2011

Called to Communion: Imputation and Infusion

There's an interesting article and discussion over at Called to Communion, about imputed righteousness vs. infused righteousness. I'm not following all the really technical comments, but some aren't too hard to follow.

UPDATE: My husband did a study on righteousness last year, which includes some discussion about believers being given Christ's righteousness. I linked it in one of the comments in the above discussion on CTC.

257 comments:

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Christine said...

The very first comment under the article is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I have never heard it (imputation) expressed that way, but it is a powerful argument against it. That's as far as I've gotten, but it's very interesting; thanks for the link.

Jennie said...

Anon's idea of what imputation means is enough to bring tears to one's eyes, but that's not what imputation means scripturally; and imputation IS a scriptural word. God does impute righteousness to us when we believe. But He also makes us new creations, regenerates us, gives us the Holy Spirit and faith which allows us to walk in righteousness and be His children, able to give love and experience His love in return. That is not 'nothing' as Anon seems to think imputation is. Imputation is only the beginning. God must impute Christ's righteousness to us because when He calls us we have nothing: no goodness and no life in us. He gives us everything. By grace through faith we receive Him, and by grace through faith we walk in newness of life.
Anon seems to think imputation is like putting a cardboard cutout of Jesus in front of us so God can't see us. In fact our sinful flesh is a veil between us and God. Jesus's flesh was torn, bearing our sin, in order to remove the veil between us and God. When we come to Christ, our old man of sin is crucified with Christ, we are made a new man. We are made one with Christ spiritually. He took our sin: it was imputed to Him. We gain His righteousness: it was imputed to us by faith.

Jennie said...

So, in other words, in imputation Christ is not a barrier as Anon thinks. Christ has torn the barrier in His own flesh so our flesh will no longer be a barrier between. There is nothing between the believer and the Father. Now we must learn to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. God has given us that ability.

Anonymous said...

Don't know how much space blogger is going to give me so I will try to be short and pithy.

@ Christine

One of the corner stones to philosophy (as well as the ontological proof of God) is that the greatest good that can be imagined is always less than or an approximation of the reality of the good. Who God is, cannot be circumscribed by my rationality. It is a great test for false beliefs -- Plato uses it in the Apology (it still got him executed though) to prove that the gods of the State were not real. The most powerful argument against pure imputed forensic justification is not that it doesn't deliver me from the hell of my depression but rather simply that Theosis points to a god that is a greater good than the how imputed forensic justification depicts God. In scientific inquiry, when a data set is explained by two conflicting hypotheses, the principles of simplicity and beauty are used to determine the superior theory. Everyone on every side of the issue quotes scripture and can do so exclusively to support their point. These two principles point to Theosis. Practically, consider the end results of two lives one fully formed and lived out according to theosis, the other according to imputed forensic justification. Which life more clearly reflects the light of God into this world?

When talking to actual Reformed individuals on this subject, they will tell me quite bluntly that my depression and my principled rational rejection of imputed justification is an indication that I have been elected to damnation. Now even if I accepted imputed forensic justification, I would find that a god that would do that to my brother would not be a god worth worshiping.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

Thanks for taking the time to call attention to the discussion. Discussions are always good.

I wasn't always Catholic. To be fair, the "Father only sees Christ and not me" is not something that I seem to think, it is what Luther and Calvin taught. Specifically it is the doctrine of forensic justification as expressed by "simul iustus et peccator". Any sound Lutheran or Reformed book on the subject will say that when Father sees a justified individual, He doesn't see the individual but only the imputed righteousness of Christ. Let me here cite Michael Horton's (Reformed) book "Putting Amazing Back into Grace" because he has a nice drawing in it which he uses to explain what justification is http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_uPwX9jHz7O0/TJCoyDz41UI/AAAAAAAAAnU/uxzskFvYo2g/s1600/SimulIustusEtPeccator.jpg

What you are describing above in your comment is not exactly not not Catholic. (tripple negative intentional) The Orthodox/Catholic concept does contain the idea of imputation (but not understood in Lutheran/Reformed terms) but goes beyond that to a more expansive reality. The term impute is in scripture -- yes we agree with that and accept that. So too though is infused justification. Look up STRONG's H6663 and cross ref it with a good Jewish dictionary, you will see that the the biblical concept of justification means to give the justice of God to the unjust so that they are made just as well as declared just, but mostly it is about making the unjust just.

I know you said "God has given us the ability..." but really that is the whole point of the row between Luther and the Church. Luther came to believe, because he suffered from extreme scrupulosity, that God does not give man the ability to live a moral and righteous life. The Church said yes, Luther said no and then you had the Diet of Worms. For Luther, "walking in the Spirit" means trusting in Christ that Christ did all the work and that your inability to live a moral life won't be counted against you. The Church said no, "walking in the Spirit" means receiving and participating in Christ's very own life.

Christine said...

Anon- I agree with everything you say, and appreciate your good explanation. I too am a convert to the Catholic faith; and my husband has endured long-term unresolved depression and the resulting struggle to trust God in the midst of intense suffering. Jennie is very sensitive to these issues, too.

Jennie - I think you and I have established before that you do not agree with the "snow-covered dung hill" definition of a justified Christian, so I do not think that you and Anon are far apart at all. You are not a Calvinist, and it seems that Anon is affirming imputation in some form, based on scripture.

I really think Anon's analogies are excellent and convincing - he's right that a Reformed view of imputation does carry the implications he describes.

Jennie said...

When talking to actual Reformed individuals on this subject, they will tell me quite bluntly that my depression and my principled rational rejection of imputed justification is an indication that I have been elected to damnation. Now even if I accepted imputed forensic justification, I would find that a god that would do that to my brother would not be a god worth worshiping.
Anonymous,
I hope you don't mind my commenting on your comment to Christine. First of all, you probably know that I don't agree with pure imputed forensic justification, but I believe that imputed righteousness is part of justification which is only the beginning of our salvation.
Secondly, I don't know how many reformed would really say such a thing as was said to you, though I don't doubt that some would.
Thirdly, I agree that such a god is not worthy of worship. I don't believe that is the truth about God, by far.
I also like what you said about philosophy, that God is greater than the greatest good that can be imagined; and that what we believe about God affects what we become.

Any sound Lutheran or Reformed book on the subject will say that when Father sees a justified individual, He doesn't see the individual but only the imputed righteousness of Christ.
I wish we had a reformed person here to discuss whether this is all there is to it. I don't know what they would say. I don't think that can be supported by scripture, though I have heard statements like that many times in different contexts. I think you asked me what my background is over on CTC. I attend a Baptist church, and I agree with much of the Baptist doctrine, though my husband and I have some differences with it. Eddie has studied quite a bit and has left behind some of the standard traditional doctrines because he has seen how they contradict scripture. We always try to put scripture over man's doctrines.

The Orthodox/Catholic concept does contain the idea of imputation (but not understood in Lutheran/Reformed terms) but goes beyond that to a more expansive reality. The term impute is in scripture -- yes we agree with that and accept that.
Ok, so you believe in imputation, but like me you believe that's not the end of the story?

I know you said "God has given us the ability..." but really that is the whole point of the row between Luther and the Church. Luther came to believe, because he suffered from extreme scrupulosity, that God does not give man the ability to live a moral and righteous life.
Is that really what Luther believed? I'm no expert on Luther. Again, I wish we had someone here who was familiar with that on the reformed side. However, I do believe that God gives us that ability, by the Holy Spirit and His grace, because we are no longer slaves to sin, but are new creations that can love God and walk in His light. Scripture makes this clear.

Yet, how do we receive and participtate in Christ's life? What does the Catholic church teach on that? I know they believe Baptism confers some of this, but doesn't the Church also believe that the Eucharist confers this life as well? What is your understanding? I've had many discussions here about the Eucharist, but each person seems to understand it differently.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

Oh I don't mind at all. I consider forums to be forums -- even if I may be virtully facing a specific person as I talk, it still is said publically and openly to all who are in there.

Right I know you are not in line with pure imputed forensic justification. It is interesting the way you phrase things -- your Catholic background shows through but it is also not Catholic. I would say that it is less "not Catholic" than it is "not Lutheran/Reformed". If that makes any sense.

Thanks about the philosophy complement. It is possible to turn God into an idol and it is possible to turn the bible into an idol and it is possible to turn Christ into an idol. God is not the god of the philosophers -- though philosophy can do a good job of telling us what god is not and can do a good job of approximating what god is. God though is more wondrous than all of that.

I wish we had a reformed person here to discuss whether this is all there is to it. In the absense of such a person, perhaps we could bring in one of the standard sources, either one of the confessions or a website/pastor who puts himself out there as a standard bearer of authentic classical Reformed theology?

Let me support my statements here a bit more. In Reformed and Lutheran you have this concept of "sin nature". Man's nature is sin -- that is what total depravity is. Because imputed justification does nothing with this sin nature -- that is man in who he is in his being -- remains sin. Because God cannot look at sin/have anything to do with sin, God's interaction with man can only be with the imputed righteousness not the actual person, who remains in his nature sin. That doesn't occur if you say that sin is a privation (thus it is an absence of something rather than a something) because God can interact with man's nature (even in a sinful state) because man's nature, even though fallen, is not sin and remains good. (for example a sheet of paper can be interacted with no matter how many holes you cut in it because it still retains its its nature of being paper -- thus God can interact with sinners because no matter how great their sins, they are still "his image". FYI Reformed theology teaches that fallen man is no longer God's image.) The problem with saying that sin is a deprivation rather than a something is that forensic imputed righteousness doesn't work because the problem is not "man is in his being sin and deserving of wrath" which resolves by the Father taking his wrath out on someone else (namely the Son) but rather "man has no life in him" which is resolves by the Father giving life to that which does not have life.

You are a baptist -- ok. Thanks, that is helpful.

Anonymous said...

Right, I don't have a problem with imputation so long as it is in accordance with the Hebrew tzedak/tzedakah (justification/charity) and not Grecko-Roman legalistic justice. Most Protestants read into the New Testament extra biblical Greek entomology instead of reading Paul's greek within the context of biblical hebraic entomology. As a point this tzedak/tzedakah doesn't exist as a specific greek word because in Grecko-Roman thought the whole concept is considered folly (the folly of the gentiles as scripture says). There are all these biblically jewish concepts that don't exist outside of Judaism that needed to find greek words for. Agape is one of the most obvious greek term that Christians co-opted to express in greek a unique jewish concept. Tzedakah became agape in Greek and charitas in Latin, and charity in English. As far as I have researched, Tyndale is the first to switch charity to love in the English translations (because charity carries with it concepts that are problematic for imputed forensic rightiousness.).

One of the things that is interesting when we are talking about righteousness is that for the Reformed, it is very clearly Christ's righteousness. What is given in justification is the righteousness of Christ that the Father decreed owed to Christ because He was obedient and suffered on the cross, and only that. This is worlds apart from the Catholic/Orthodox view of what is given in justification is the righteousness of God which is God's own divine life and nature.

I don't have a problem with imputation so long as we are not talking about double forensic imputation. I do not believe that one can say that one's punishments are imputed to Christ so that He can suffer the Father's wrath for those sins. Trent says that one can talk about imputation so long as one does not consider that to be the end of the story. Does God declare people just? Of course. But the promise in Hosea 2 is that God will make us just, not just declare us just.

Addressing your last questions seperately.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine

Thanks! I want to address some of the things you said here but I make it a point not to write about depression late at night. You will have to wait.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie



Taking a question at a time:



Yet, how do we receive and participate in Christ's life?



We participate by receiving and by acting. We are persons and persons, being beings, are always actors. In order to have life, we must receive it. We are not self-creating or unbegotten thus life itself must be a grace given to us from before we had existence due to no merit of our own. However now that we exist and are and have life, we must live and act. If we do not live and act, then we attempt to return ourselves to our state of non-existence. If God is the only one who acts, than I have no existence and all that is is but dream and folly and it is better to be a Buddhist or a Hindu where all that is is but the dream of Brahman who is himself but the dream of Vishnu. Now if we actually are and have existence and that existence is not God, then our actions are our actions, even as they originate from God as first principle and return to God as teleological end.



Having established that man is an actor, not a dream of God, we must now ask the question of "what is man?" First, man is not God's puppet so that in the act and life of man it can only be said to be God that moves and acts. If it is only God that moves and acts, then I am only an avatar of God and anything that I do is thus is a direct manifestation of the divine will in creation. But again better to be a Hindu or a Buddhist for again reality simply dissolves into the dream of God. Man is man, not God not God's dream. Given that man is, then his actions are his actions. What now is man? Is he a ghost in a machine -- a pure spirit trapped in a sinful fleshy body? Is it that man's true action is only that what his spirit does and that which his fleshy part does is but sin? Better to be a Manichean in that case. If we are not ghosts in machines, then who we are is both spiritual and corporeal -- we are our spirits and we are our bodies. When we act, when we live, we do so as spirits-bodies. (Heaven is not a place where we are finally freed from the confines of our bodies to exist as pure spirit -- again better to be a Manichean. We believe in the resurrection of the body after all and that in the very end of all things, our bodies will be restored.).

Anonymous said...

Now finally we can answer how do we receive and participate in Christ's life. First our receiving and participating must not void the reality of us being actors. Second our receiving and participating cannot be truncated to only a part of us -- we participate not just in our toes but in our whole beings. We must receive and participate both corporally and spiritually because we are both. The incarnation happened for a reason, it happened so that man could interact with God in the fullness of his person and not just part of it. In the incarnation the distance between the divine nature and the spirit-body of man's nature is ended. Going forward from this point in time, man's interaction with God and God's interaction with man must be viewed in the context of the incarnation. The Son did not leave the spirit-body/human nature behind but ascended into heaven -- the spirit-body was not assumed into heaven, a human nature ascended. To receive and participate thus is to receive and participate in that which the incarnation is. Our human natures must be made anew in Christ's human nature and because Christ is not just His human nature we must be given a partaking in the divine nature. Thus what we have is a renewal and a partaking.



All the above was just a rather heady way of trying to clear the slate from all the pagan junk that clouds modern people's views so I can answer that the New Testament describes the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, and thus receiving and participation in the life of the Church is receiving and participating in the life of Christ. Luther and Calvin both taught that the Church was where one received and participated in the life of Christ, and this Church was visible acting and present in the world. For example with Luther Therefore he who would find Christ must first find the Church. How should we know where Christ and his faith were, if we did not know where his believers are? And he who would know anything of Christ must not trust himself nor build a bridge to heaven by his own reason; but he must go to the Church, attend and ask her and with Calvin beyond the pale of the Church no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, can be hoped for........those to whom he is a Father, the Church must also be a mother

Anonymous said...

@ Christine

Depression is difficult to deal with. It is a deep sense of alignment from others, from self, from God. In my own experience, healing has to be done when one is not suffering -- the synapses and neuro pathways need to be repaired not during a depressive episode but during the well times. For myself, I cannot hear or feel positive affect from other people when I am depressed and because that sensation of worth and closeness with others doesn't exist, I don't want to be around others at such a time -- you close yourself off because 1.) its actually terribly frustrating being around happiness or joy. It is like people telling you there is this wondrous chocolate cake but all you can see is an empty plate. 2.) you are screwed up emotionally and don't want to hurt other people because you are absolutely convinced that what you do will make them not care for you (even though you think they already don't care for you).

Sue Bee said...

Lutheran here.

First of all, I find I disagree with Sproul’s exegesis. I only read a few of the comments at CTC and I really don’t have time to read them all, nor do I have the frames of reference to comprehend most of them!

I, a sinner, am declared righteous for Christ’s sake by His grace through faith– my sins have been imputed to Christ and His righteousness has been imputed to me.

What seems to be lacking in the discussion here is the transformative power of faith. In Lutheran theology, justification and sanctification are closely linked but are distinct principles. A famous Luther quote is: “There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow.”

I confess Scripture teaches and I believe the Holy Spirit brings me to faith and also enables me to lead a godly life. He sanctifies me in the true faith. By faith He works a renewal of my whole life – in spirit, will, attitude, and desires – so that I now strive to overcome sin and to do good works. (Luther’s Small Catechism)

“Walking in the Spirit” means quite a bit more than “my immoral life won’t be counted against me.”

Anonymous said...

@Sue Bee

WIS - Missouri - ELCA?

Am I a bad person for quite strongly rejecting the concept of the punishment owed to my sins having been imputed to Christ? I have a huge problem with this concept of justification because I do not consider that 1.) The Father has a wrath problem 2.) that the Father's wrath problem can only be dealt with by punishing someone.



I have not, and I believe others have not been brining faith into the discussion on justification because there is a rather important difference between Lutheran and Reformed here. For Reformed, man is not justified by having faith or an act of faith-- he is strictly justified by the imputation of Christ's obedience and satisfaction. Faith, which stems in no way from man, is only that instrument in which man rests, or trust in that imputated justification. It is a hard thing to wrap one's mind around coming from a Lutheran background due to how important faith is expressed in Lutheranism. Reformed theology tends to discuss justification vis a vis Reformed or Arminian (Methodist) theology. In Methodist theology, Faith is understood in part as an act of man that precedes justification.

Between Catholic and Lutheran (and most Protestants) there is a very large difference in the understanding of what theological (the faith which justifies)

faith is. For Protestants faith is a species of hope or trust -- to have Faith in God is to have trust in Him. For Catholics, theological faith is a species of knowledge of someone gained by being in relationship with that someone -- to have Faith in God is to say that God has revealed Himself to me and I have a certain knowledge of Him and His will.

In Catholic theology, justification and sanctification are basically synonyms. A person who is justified is being sanctified and a person who is sanctified is being justified. The distinction between justification and sanctification is not found in biblical language but in confessional language -- as certain "bleeding edge" theologians in the Reformed world are attempting to show.

Jennie said...

Jennie - I think you and I have established before that you do not agree with the "snow-covered dung hill" definition of a justified Christian, so I do not think that you and Anon are far apart at all. You are not a Calvinist, and it seems that Anon is affirming imputation in some form, based on scripture.

Christine,
I don't agree with that particular analogy of Luther's, for sure. I am reminded, though, in Anon's latest comment to Sue Bee, that he
has a problem with the idea of the wrath of God, or that God's wrath was taken out on Christ for our sins. It is clear in Scripture that the wrath of God is an issue, so it can't be avoided honestly, but I don't know if I agree with the Reformed view of how God's wrath was satisfied. It's good to look at these issues because it helps us understand what we believe and why. I'm not totally clear on how wrath fits into the atonement. I'm going to look up some passages on that.

Jennie said...

Sue Bee,
I'm glad to see you and to have your perspective. I agree that the transformative power of faith is an essential part of the discussion, and was certainly central to Luther's understanding: "The just shall live by faith."

Jennie said...

Am I a bad person for quite strongly rejecting the concept of the punishment owed to my sins having been imputed to Christ? I have a huge problem with this concept of justification because I do not consider that 1.) The Father has a wrath problem 2.) that the Father's wrath problem can only be dealt with by punishing someone.

Anon,
I want to mention this subject that you brought up to Sue Bee, and also you brought it up on CTC, about the wrath of God. If you look up the word wrath in Scripture, you will find it used many times in which God is wrathful against the wicked and against His people who have sinned. Many times God carries out His wrath upon them, and some times He turns away His wrath if they repent and/or some intercession or intervention is carried out. The idea of God's wrath being appeased is very prevalent in Scripture, so the idea can't be honestly avoided.
In Isaiah 53 the idea that Jesus bore 'the chastisement for our peace' and that He 'made intercession for the transgressors' and that God punished Him as an offering for our sin. This is clear. However, the fact is that it was the Father Himself who sent the Son out of love for us. It wasn't that the Son jumped in to protect us from the Father. The Trinity is of one mind and one purpose. The Son Himself has wrath that we must fear as well: Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

The Bible is filled with anthropomorphisms, we need to be careful least we attribute an anthropomorphism to God instead of seeing it as a vehical of human language and human experiences for us to understand him.

I would like to bring some bible passages into this discussion.

First consider Genesis 8:9-17 -- the Covenant with Noah. This covenant is really important because here God sets "his bow" down in the sky and makes a covenant with Noah and all His descendents that God, no matter what mankind does, will never pick that bow up again. This covenant is also important because there are no covenantal curses attached to it -- that means it wholly shows us who God is and how he wishes to interact with man independent of what man's action is or is not. That God's bow is set down means that God is not at war with mankind and does not need to have the fullness of his wrath appeased in order to deal with mankind's sins -- in fact given that God set the bow down and then made a covenant saying that he wont pick it back up means that God's wrath, in the full sense, lacks the ability to be appeased via punishment. Remember God cannot pick His bow up -- not even to whack Jesus on the cross with it. Thus the cross cannot be about punishment because even if punishment could be imputed to Christ, given that the bow is covenantally set down forever the Father's wrath cannot be fully appeased.

Secondly consider Hoesa 2. Consider the harlot Israel. Notice the anger of the Lord and that he punishes Israel, but notice that the Lord's response to all these things Israel did to Him was not to appease his wrath but to allure her. His response is to the unfaithfulness of Israel is not to punish until he is vindicated but rather His vindication is in Her redemption.

Thirdly consider Jonah who was sent to Nineveh to proclaim that God in His wrath would destroy it. Now consider that Nineveh repented and God sent no punishment, not even a little bit, and there was no appeasement through punitive punishment for Nineveh. (Consider now Jonah was very angry with God for not appeasing his wrath.)

When we go through scripture we notice that the Father's anger over sin is not dealt strictly via penal punishments, nor are the punishment equivalent to the "wrath", nor does punishment even need to occur for God to be "appeased".

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

On Is 53

First as I have shown on C2C Pslam 22 makes it impossible for us to say that the cross is about appeasing the Father's wrath. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/05/imputation-and-infusion-a-reply-to-r-c-sproul-jr/#comment-18408

As such your God punished Him as an offering for our sin has to be seen as being read into the passage.

There is a very large difference between "Jesus suffered for our sins" and "Jesus was punished for our sins".

We should turn to the New Testament and see how the bible understands the suffering of Christ. Acts 17:3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead.....Hebrews 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood ....1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you... Ther term for suffered in these is Strongs G3958 pascho. aka passion. It doesn't carry with it the connotation of "being punished". The Greek term for "to be punished" is not even a related word and "punished" doesn't appear in the NT in connection with the sacrafice of Christ. If we cross check with sacrifice as relating to the cross in the NT Eph 5:2 as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God..... Hebrews 9:26 ...But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. The Greek thysia Strongs G2378 here doesn't carry with it the idea of a victim being punished. Given that Roman 12:1 uses thysia to state "I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship", it becomes impossible to hold that the NT understands the sacrifice of the Cross as involving punishment.

We have thus shown, through the usage of the bible alone, that neither the NT nor OT supports the idea that "Jesus was punished for our sins" and in fact this idea would be in conflict with specific passages in the OT and NT. As such, this idea must be an extra biblical tradition.

I think it is very important to see that the suffering that Christ endured on the cross was not at the Father's hands but it was rather our hands that raised every blow and fell every lash. Christ died because we killed Him as Jesus fortold in Matt 21:33-41.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X08cdDiWss4

Sue Bee said...

@Anon
I’m in the Missouri Synod.

The Lutheran understanding of faith is that it is “the knowledge of the Truth”, as Paul calls it in his letters to Timothy & Titus. We believe we are given the knowledge of the Truth at baptism or upon hearing the Gospel. It is given to us by the Holy Spirit through the Word & water or by the Word alone. The knowledge (faith) will either grow or die – see the parable of the sower. Growth is sanctification. Those with the knowledge of the Truth (faith) are justified, to us that means forgiven for the sake of Christ.

The knowledge of the Truth isn’t a gift to the intellect – it is more of a subliminal awareness. We believe in man’s total depravity and his inability to come to faith by his own power – the intellect is part of the flesh and would naturally reject God’s Truth. This is why faith is “extra nos”.

I don’t know what Reformed Theology is. Is it Calvinism? Is it Arminianism? Is it a hybrid of the two? I know in Arminianism and the Holiness movement it spawned there is a notion of prevenient grace – but isn’t that taught in Roman Catholicism also?

Jesus’ crucifixion was the atoning sacrifice for our sins – not God's punishment of man - but no time to discuss, I have to go to work.

Anonymous said...

@ Sue Bee



I grew up Lutheran (WELS) and United Methodist.



The reason why I said for Protestant's faith is hope/trust is because that is the understanding of Luther's fiduciary faith as exemplified in works such soren kierkegaard who really accentuates the "faith isn't knowledge" aspect of things.



For Catholics, we have different classifications of faith, but theological faith (that is the virtue of faith which justifies) is related to knowledge, but not knowledge like you might hold 2 + 2 = 4 in your intellect, it is knowledge based on being in relationship -- for example that unique form of knowledge that a mother has of her child because that child is hers and they have a unique personal relationship. For Catholics, theological faith is a pure gift from God because man cannot force God to be in a relationship with him nor can man dictate the type of relationship that God has with him. It has nothing to do with sin or the fall, simply that God is sovereign and man is creature and subject. Thus even pre-fall Adam's faith was gratuitous gift. For Catholics we do not believe that faith is eschatological, that is to say that there is no faith in heaven and Jesus did not have faith. Why? Because faith is not the actuality , faith is a certain form of knowledge of God but it is not the totality of knowledge -- it is not vision. We here on earth see through the glass darkly what we shall see in reality in heaven. Same with hope -- hope gives way to obtainment and actuality. Love though, love remains for God Himself is love.



Catholics don't believe in total depravity (we'd point out that that makes knowledge impossible). We would rather speak of "total inability". We would take "man does nothing that pleases God" not in the sense that nothing that man does have moral value but rather that, as all that man is and does is gift and grace, man cannot give God anything to increase his joy in us.



Reformed theology is theology based on Calvin. It is understood to be the intellectual and theological direct descendent. Presbyterianism would be the religious practice of Reformed individuals. Reformed Baptist, Reformed Anglican, Reformed Lutheran exist but those are hybrid theologies.



Arminianism is a theological movement away from Calvinism. Methodism is the dominant religious practiced that is based upon Arminian theology. Methodism is a reaction against Anglicanism, which was largely Calvinistic at the time. Methodism is a step back towards Catholic soteriology. Of all classical Protestantism, Methodist eschatology is the closest to Catholic. Yes Catholics and Methodists are very close in their understanding of prevenient grace.



Reformed writers take very seriously that the crucifixion was the Father's punishment of the Son for our sins. It is the rejection of that concept that spawned Arminianism.

Jennie said...

Anonymous,
I'll check into the things you said about wrath. It's clear that God's wrath exists and that God has and will carry out His wrath upon the wicked, but of course His love is the other side of the story, that caused Him to reach out to us. He does love us, as Christ loved the rich young ruler, yet also saw his sin, which caused him to walk away from Christ. I'll keep looking into this.

Another thought on righteousness and the role that faith plays in justification. In Hebrews 3 and 4 the author reminds us of the Israelites and how through unbelief they failed to enter the promised rest. Faith leads us to rest on God's righteousness instead of working for our own salvation, trying to be good enough on our own. The fulfillment of the Sabbath is that we cease by faith from our own works (whether 'good' or bad works) and rest and trust in Christ's finished work. So as Sue Bee brought out, by faith we are justified and forgiven and cleansed, and it follows that by faith we are transformed and sanctified and bring forth the fruits of righteousness. I have a study on the Sabbath rest that links to a study on the Sabbath that my husband did: http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2009/07/sabbath-rest-part-two.html
Also if you look in the sidebar under 'Sabbath' you can find some other related studies. The idea of the Sabbath rest is foundational to the gospel, which calls us to rest from our own labors, resting in Christ's work instead. I think this relates to imputed righteousness. It is not our righteousness that saves us, but faith causes us to rest in Christ's righteousness and to walk in it out of love and continued faith.

Jennie said...

Of course 'resting' on Christ doesn't mean we do nothing, but that we do good works by faith and by God's grace, and in response to His word and Spirit in us, not having to strive to save ourselves. The work is finished by Christ, and we are now in the 7th day of rest spiritually.

Jennie said...

Remember that Christ did good works on the Sabbath, first to show that it is God that works and we that are healed; secondly to show that once we are healed we are free to follow His example to work from love rather than from selfish motives.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

Yes do look those passages up.

There are some Christians that would say though that "Resting in Christ's righteousness" does mean doing nothing. Bulgarians/Cathars/Quietists -- all others who speak of the total passivity of the will before the Spirit.

For Catholics, following Augustine, we are justified by grace through faith which worketh in love. Because of this, Catholic's don't have a sense of "Sabbeth Rest" or "resting on Christ's work of obedience and sastisfaction" as it gets parced for Reformed. For Catholics, we speak of "working our our salvation in fear and trembling" (Philipians 2:12) which is to say they were are to ever increase our synergistic union with Christ via grace.

Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ.... Strong G3353

Heb 12:10 ...that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Strong G3353

2 Pet 1:4 ..that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature Strong G2844

When we are looking at the NT for how man relates to the righteousness that is given, the terms that rise to the top are translated as "partakers". They don't carry with them a sense of rest but rather of sharing, co-operating, partnering, working, -- they are all synergistic terms.

This is why Catholics don't see righteousness as resting in or on the work of Christ but rather an active synergistic union with the work of Christ so that Christ's work (which extends beyond the Cross) truly becomes the work of man. This is why Augustine says in his letters that heaven is both grace and merit -- grace because it comes from God merit because we participate in grace.

I don't agree that love is the other side of the story to wrath. That is way too dualist for my ears. God is love, not "he expresses love to some and wrath to others".

You said "follow His example to work from love rather than from selfish motives". There are some who would say that the desire to be loved by God is a sin because the desire to be loved is selfish. But that is just back to my first post -- that God doesn't actually care about who I am or want to have a relationship with me, He just wants me to have a relationship with Him. Love is a two way street -- it is both the desiring for one's own good and the gifting for the good of the other.

Will read the article later tonight.

Sue Bee said...

Anon-
Interestingly, we have been travelling in similar circles. I was raised in the UMC. Started attending a WELS church occasionally while in college and joined the LCMS after I married a Lutheran. I can definitely see where Methodists and Roman Catholics have much in common, but most Methodists and Catholics I know would NOT see it that way.

You stated, “I don't agree that love is the other side of the story to wrath. That is way too dualist for my ears. God is love, not "he expresses love to some and wrath to others".

Do you believe in hell?

Anonymous said...

@Sue Bee

Do I believe in Hell?

People who have struggles and suffer from depression have a hard time with hope and heaven but believing in hell is not a problem because depression is staring into the abyss.

I noticed that you are avoiding my question so let me ask it again: Am I a bad person for quite strongly rejecting the concept of the punishment owed to my sins having been imputed to Christ? I have a huge problem with this concept of justification because I do not consider that 1.) The Father has a wrath problem 2.) that the Father's wrath problem can only be dealt with by punishing someone.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

I read through your husbands article on the Sabbath. I think he is trying to read his own understanding of what "Sabbath" is into the scripture. He tripped over something vastly important but doesn't see that he has tripped over it: The Sabbath of the Jews is not the Sunday of Christianity.

In Judaism, the Sabbath is a day of anticipation. You have your six days of the week, then you have your seventh day which is set aside to anticipate the "this day" of the Lord, the promised eschatological fulfillment. But this day doesn't come because after the Sabbath you go back to day one. Thus human history is locked into cyclic time (kronos time), ever building up to the day of anticipation only to return to day 1 the following. Christ though is the Lord of the Sabbath, He is the one the breaks the cycle, and brings about the fulfillment of the Sabbath, what the Sabbath has been anticipating and looking forward to in hope finally arrives -- a new day, and 8th day, the "this day" of the Lord.

Christians have gone beyond the Sabbath, beyond the day of rest and anticipation where the bride waited in the night for her bridegroom, to the eschatological wedding day and feast. This is why Sunday is not properly a day of anticipating rest but a day of celebration a day of true leisure where one can truly "rejoice and be glad for "this day" is the day that the Lord has made".

So when you or Reformed people say "we need to rest on Christ's finished work", I must say heaven forbid that the bride should rest on the "this day" of her wedding. "Today" is the day of the bride's union, "today" is the day of new life when all things are made new. Christ did not finish everything on the Sabbath, what has been finished is the anticipation, the day of waiting is finished, the "this day", the eschatological day, has finally arrived - the cycle of time is broken, the great serpent Ouroboros is conquered. We live now in the "this day" of the Lord, and were as before the bride was alone and separated, she now partakes of her husband's own divine life, and she who was barren now has great fecundity and ever brings forth the work of her husband, which is to do the will of the Father.

Sue Bee said...

@anon-

1.No. I do not believe you are evil because you do not share my beliefs. Wrong? Yes. Evil? No. :-)
2.God does not have a wrath problem. He has a satan problem.
3.God dealt with His satan problem by atoning for our sins on the cross and defeating death and the devil by His resurrection.

I believe in imputed righteousness (justification by grace through faith) and believe it is a correct understanding of God’s work in our lives. It rightly focuses our attention outward on the cross for assurance of our salvation. Christ was my substitute. He took my place under God’s judgment of sin. I know my salvation is secure because He did it all on my behalf. It’s not God’s wrath I see in the cross, I see His unconditional love. There is never any question of whether I am good enough. My sins and failures are completely forgiven and He lovingly works in me so that I might lead a godly life. But most importantly, I live in Christ – through baptism I was united to Him in His death and His resurrection. He gives me eternal life and I need not fear death.

I agree with Jennie that because Christ has done all the work of justification for us we are free to do the good works which He has placed before us, unfettered by doubt that they may not be enough.

Is too simple for it to work that way? Perhaps. But childlike faith is highly commended.

Jennie said...

Amen, Sue Bee. Well said.

Anonymous said...

@Sue Bee

You are making my point that for Luther "walking in the Spirit" is simply "my immoral life won't be counted against me". In all that you just said, you have emptied the moral qualities from the Christian life. It is really only Christ's morality that has weight, has meaning. In the end of that, it speaks to a Father that really doesn't care about who you are and what you do -- the Father only cares about the Son's work and that work has freed you from considering the moral quality of your own life and work.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie + Sue Bee

Let me bring Protestant theologians into the discussion and ask if you agree with or disagree with the specific points that they are making.

Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God's anger, and satisfy his righteous judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. ... ... Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price—that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man. (Calvin, John. “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Book 3:Chapter 16:Section 10)


Luther: ‘Christ himself suffered the dread and horror of a distressed conscience that tasted eternal wrath;’ ‘it was not a game, or a joke, or play-acting when he said, “Thou hast forsaken me”; for then he felt himself really forsaken in all things even as a sinner is forsaken” (Werke, 5. 602, 605) (Packer, J.I. “The Logic of Penal Substitution.” footnote 44)


As Jesus bore the guilt of our sins alone, God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin that God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world.(Grudem, Wayne. “Bible Doctrine.” Page 253-254)

“And the one who was pure was pure no more. And God cursed Him. It was if there was a cry from Heaven – excuse my language but I can be no more accurate than to say – it was as if Jesus heard the words 'God damn you', because that's what it meant to be cursed, to be damned, to be under the anathema of the Father. As I said I don't understand that, but I know that it's true.” (R.C. Sproul. Together for the Gospel. April 17, 2008. Louisville, KY. Session V - The Curse Motif of the Atonement. Minute 55:01)

Jennie said...

Anon,
the point is that because Christ has saved us, we are free: free from sin; free from the burden of working to save ourselves; free from working to try to please God. That doesn't mean that we DON'T work. It means we don't work for ourselves. We can work truly out of love for God and others.
God has given us life and light and love which never in a million years could we do for ourselves no matter how hard we worked. So now standing in that light we can freely do good.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

Does the work of a justified individual have moral worth in that it is a human activity?

If it has moral worth, then I in who I am and what I do has value before the Father, and if there is value then there is merit.

If it does not have moral worth, then the Father doesn't care about us or what we do, only what Christ does.

The big problem that I have (and many other Protestants) with imputed justification (as understood by Luther and Calvin) is that they have emptied the Christian life of its moral value and have turned the Father into someone who doesn't care about who the human person is or what the human person does -- He only cares about what the Son does.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie + Sue Bee

I want to bring into the discussion some standard Protestant theologians so that we can discuss their views as well. I am doing this to show that the core of the Lutheran and Reformed system of justification, penal substitutionary atonement with double imputation, envisions a brutal Father who has a wrath problem that can only be dealt with by punishing someone.


Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God's anger, and satisfy his righteous judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. ... ... Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price—that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man. (Calvin, John. “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Book 3:Chapter 16:Section 10)


Luther: ‘Christ himself suffered the dread and horror of a distressed conscience that tasted eternal wrath;’ ‘it was not a game, or a joke, or play-acting when he said, “Thou hast forsaken me”; for then he felt himself really forsaken in all things even as a sinner is forsaken” (Werke, 5. 602, 605) (Packer, J.I. “The Logic of Penal Substitution.” footnote 44)


As Jesus bore the guilt of our sins alone, God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin that God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world.(Grudem, Wayne. “Bible Doctrine.” Page 253-254)

“And the one who was pure was pure no more. And God cursed Him. It was if there was a cry from Heaven – excuse my language but I can be no more accurate than to say – it was as if Jesus heard the words 'God damn you', because that's what it meant to be cursed, to be damned, to be under the anathema of the Father. As I said I don't understand that, but I know that it's true.” (R.C. Sproul. Together for the Gospel. April 17, 2008. Louisville, KY. Session V - The Curse Motif of the Atonement. Minute 55:01)

Christine said...

Jennie said "It means we don't work for ourselves. We can work truly out of love for God and others. . . So now standing in that light we can freely do good."

I don't know what you are answering with this - no one said differently. The question is, "Is the good that we do of any REAL value; and is it a TRUE participation in God's life and TRUE relationship with Him? Or are we nothing to God as unique individuals other than the imputed righteous of Christ?"

Jennie said...

Does the work of a justified individual have moral worth in that it is a human activity?

Yes, anything done by faith and love has moral worth and eternal worth in the eyes of God:

1. The justified man lives by faith:
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

2.The justified man pleases God:
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

3. Faith produces works of love:
James 2:
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

4. Without love, our faith and works are nothing. Again, we can't please God without love, and faith produces love, and love acts:
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Jennie said...

If it has moral worth, then I in who I am and what I do has value before the Father, and if there is value then there is merit.

Does 'merit' imply that we are 'increasing justification'? We can't increase our standing with God or save ourselves with our works. Christ has done the work for salvation. We now do our work for the salvation of others, not ourselves. We are free, after we are justified.
Our good works have importance when done from faith and love because these works please God and because they participate in His love for people, in order to draw men to Himself.

Jennie said...

Christine,
I was answering Anon's comment:
You are making my point that for Luther "walking in the Spirit" is simply "my immoral life won't be counted against me". In all that you just said, you have emptied the moral qualities from the Christian life. It is really only Christ's morality that has weight, has meaning. In the end of that, it speaks to a Father that really doesn't care about who you are and what you do -- the Father only cares about the Son's work and that work has freed you from considering the moral quality of your own life and work.

I was making the point that because justified people are truly saved and made new, we now don't have to work to save ourselves (we can't); we can work to truly show love and participate in God's work to save others. So, our work now has eternal value and pleases God. Before, without faith, we could not please God. Now His love has produced love in us, and we have a true relationship with Him and others.
I was saying that 'walking in the Spirit' ISN'T just that 'my immoral life won't be counted against me' but that my life will now count eternally by doing true good out of love.

Christine said...

It seems to me that Anon isn't using the concept increase our standing but rather that participation in God's very life we deepen our relationship.

And isn't this the crux of it, that with the imputation-alone model, we talk about our "standing with God" - how do we rate? Our standing is NOTHING, except the veil of Christ's righteousness hides that.

With infusion, it is a relationship model, as the husband-wife analogy that Anon gave, wherein God loves ME, loves YOU, and EACH unique person even while seeing us as we are and sharing with us in a REAL way His divine life and opportunities to act and to choose.

Do we really disagree here?

Jennie said...

Do we really disagree here?

I agree with the relationship model, but not sure that I would agree with all that Catholics mean by infusion.

Jennie said...

Anon,
I'll respond about the Sabbath comment later on, but I don't think Eddie stumbled over the Sabbath idea. I think the 7th day sabbath has a significance of its own, and the first day worship has a significance of its own as well, which you brought out.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine + Jennie

Exactly Christine. You get what I am saying. There are a great many in the "imputed alone model" that consider that man has no value before God -- that it is strictly Christ's imputed value that counts for anything. The crux of is in question is the worth of the individual before God. The husband loves his wife because of who she is not because of what he has done for her. In order for us to mean anything to God, we must have moral weight to our persons and our actions. If we don't have weight, we don't have meaning and God only cares about what He has done.

Jennie, in the way you phrase things you are very focused on sin and salvation as "being freed from punishment" as well as "freed from the need to work to save ourselves" (which btw isn't part of Judaism -- Judaism is not paganism, it is not predicated upon the need to do X in order to placate the gods.). There is a better way to see sin. In stead of seeing sin as "action that increases the amount of punishment/wrath that is owed to a creature", see it instead as "an action with increases the degree of separation between the human soul and God". This way you more correctly place the emphasis of the evil of sin upon the action of the individual, and not God and His need to vindicate Himself through penal punishment. You will also see then that salvation becomes not "freed from punishment and the need to work" but rather salvation as becoming close to God and dwelling in His love. Furthermore you will see that viewing sin and salvation in this light more correctly approximates the biblical words for sin, which have a high degree of connotations of separation involved in their meaning.

Imputed justification, as found in classical Lutheran and Reformed, is not held by all of Protestantism. Methodists for example do not follow it. C.S. Lewis, and all that are after his line of thinking do not follow it. Catholics and Orthodox of course don't follow it, but they are not Protestant. But the point here is that to reject "imputed justification" doesn't mean that one has to automatically become a Catholic or Orthodox. It does though call into question the legimacy of Luther's "protest".

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

I will look forward to that. The the Sabbath time of anticipation belongs though to Judaism - the people of the promise. We are a people of the Resurrection - the people of the fulfillment. The Bride has married the Groom. We can not go back any more to the time of anticipation than it is possible for you to go back to the night before your wedding when you were yet a bride and not wife.

Jennie said...

Anon,
I believe Scripture teaches that since the Bridegroom has not yet returned for His Bride, we are still in the betrothal period. We are watching and waiting for Him right now. We haven't heard the shout of the Bridegroom yet that calls us to meet Him for the Wedding.

I also believe that, as Hebrews 3 and 4 teach, when we come to Christ it is entering into the Sabbath rest which is the seventh day. We are still waiting for the eighth day, which won't happen until after Israel has her seventh day, the millenium. The eighth day is after that, when the Holy City, the Bride, descends from Heaven to the New Earth 'and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.' (Revelation 21)

Sue Bee said...

I believe a better analogy is the love between and father and a child.

My dad loved me before I was born, before he knew if I was a girl or a boy or anything about me. All he knew was that I was his child and for that reason alone he loved me.
I did not love my dad from birth. My love for him grew because of how he cared for me, provided for my needs, kept me safe, taught me what I needed to know, and disciplined me. I learned over time that I could trust him and, simply stated, his love for me created my love for him.

My dad loved me when I was good & bad. He was happier when I was good and disappointed when I wasn’t. And as I grew I learned to obey my dad and to do as he wished. At first out of fear of discipline, and later because hurting my dad was the last thing I’d ever want to do.

I can state unequivocally, my Dad would have given his life to save me, or my mom or my siblings.

My Father in heaven loved me before even my parents knew there would be a me. He loves me because I am His child, and not because of anything I’ve done. As with my dad, my love for my heavenly Father took time to grow. As with my dad, the love my heavenly Father gives to me creates my love for Him.

God loves me unconditionally, when I am good and when I am bad, and as I have grown in faith I am continually learning how to obey and do what He wishes me to do, because I love Him, because I fear Him, because hurting Him is the last thing I ever want to do.
My heavenly Father gave His life for mine and He gives me His righteousness to save me from death and the devil. When He looks at me He sees His child, because I am His child. Through the washing of baptism I died and was reborn into Christ.

Romans 6:3-11: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:27-29: But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

2 Cor. 14-17: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Colossians 3:1-4: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

God's peace be with you all.

Sue Bee said...

Anon-
St. Peter tells us to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. I think I’ve done that. But to answer your questions on Lutherans and God’s wrath, I’ll point you to someone else’s blog because I like his answer better than anything I could compose. In part he says:

God is not any more a menace than a police officer is a menace to a fugitive from justice. Depending on one's relationship to the law of the land a policeman is either a helper or a "menace". Suppose you are stranded on a dark and stormy night and a police car comes along--you will likely feel relief. Now suppose you have a dead body in your trunk and a police car comes along--now you feel terror, you may even curse the police and hate them because your deeds will be exposed and you will receive punishment—not because of any quality of the policeman but because you know a severe "judgment" is coming soon. And why shouldn’t you feel terror at the prospect? It is not unloving for a police officer to arrest or even kill a fugitive who endangers others--it is in fact his calling or vocation. In the same way, God is not "menacing" sinners, he is acting justly and we know what that justice entails. The sinner knows what is coming and in his sin curses God--even though he knows he deserves what he has coming. But is God's wrath a sinful type of wrath, e.g. "I didn’t get what I demand so I am angry”? No, his wrath is because of his justice, and God's justice seeks to set everything right. Justice rewards evil with punishment, but it also rewards good with glory. So, what is unjust is the subject of his wrath, and those who are unjust fear his wrath, as they should.

Read the rest here: http://upstatelutheran.blogspot.com/2007/06/gods-wrath-and-river-of-fire.html

BTW, I think the first comment to his post has a familiar ring to it.

Jennie said...

Sue Bee, thank you for the beautiful analogy and the Scripture passages. I've enjoyed reading them. I hope this shows that, though there are differences in doctrine and different ways of seeing things, the relationship with God, and also with our brothers and sisters, is most important and can bridge the gaps between us. Even if you and I believe in imputed righteousness, and Anon and Christine do not, we can understand the Father/child relationship that unites us to God and to each other if we truly have faith in Christ.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

The problem with considering that we are still in the betrothal period is that is very much not what the scriptures teach. Granted that you are a Baptist and most Baptists are also dispensationalists so ya I could see you considering that you are still locked within some sort of 7th and a half day between the Jewish Sabbath and the 8th Day of Christianity. The giant problem with that is that Christians don't have the authority to transfer the Sabbath to Sunday and if the Sabbath was still valid we should be worshiping on Saturday like the Jehovah's Witnesses say.


The reason why we have nut jobs like Harold Camping running around freaking out those who are easily freaked out is that people a very poor (or exceedingly poor) understanding of the Book of Revelation as well as being locked into a dispensationalist mindset.

Let me offer one quote from Augustine to show that we do not live in the time of the Jewish Sabbath (7th day) but rather in the 8th Day "Sabbath" of Christ.

So, when you (Faustus) ask why a Christian does not keep the Sabbath, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian does not keep the Sabbath precisely because what was prefigured in the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ. For we have our Sabbath in Him who said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
Early Church Fathers, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series I, Vol. IV, Augustine-Anti-Manichaean Writings, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, Book XIX:


Most Christians are Amillennialists (Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Church of Christ), that is they view that the 8th day is now, not some future day. Now is the wedding feast of the lamb, now is the day of marriage.

Also, FYI if you and look at early Christian commentary on the Book of Revelation, you will see that the "heavenly city descending from the clouds" is identified with the Church, which exists now here in the present time on Earth, not something that we are waiting around to happen. Let me here just cite Augustine's quite lengthy work De Civitate Dei, which is predicated upon the early Christian belief of the heavenly Jerusalem existing here and now.

Anonymous said...

@ Sue Bee,

Two major problems with your analogy.

1.) That is not an analogy for imputed penal justification. There is nothing imputed about it and nothing penal about it.

2.) The analogy does not square with the quotes that I gave above from respected Protestant authors who view imputed penal justification as an appeasement for the Father's wrath problem. Where in your analogy do you discuss someone appeasing your human father's wrath at your trespasses and sins against him?

In general your analogy is actually more suited for arguing infused justification. By your own words "simply stated, his love for me created my love for him". That is closer to "make justified" not "declare justified'.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

The problem is that a very hard line imputed justification theory (as you find in Reformed Theology) produces a very different sort of Father/child relationship than does infused justification. As I mentioned in my post on C2C, I have had friends who have grown up in hard line imputed justification families and worship communities. They are quite screwed up and don't know how to relate to other people from a position of mercy and love. I wasn't always Catholic. During my transition process I read a lot of polemic apologetics (anti-Catholic and anti Protestant). Hands down the Protestant stuff is the most "wrathful". But that is just a reflection of imputed justification's view that the Father views all who have not been so imputes as deserving of wrath.

Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate a good analogy, it is just that faith isn't hope, it is a certain knowledge of God gained by being in relationship with God. And frankly, as I mentioned in my original post, I have no interested in worshiping or being in a relationship with a god who saves us by imputed justification as understood by those Protestant theologians in my post of 2:09 AM, May 20, 2011. I suffer from severe depression, and that which is described is not remotely capable of saving my from my agony. However infused justification offers me salvation and has been a tremendous balm for my sorrow and pain, for it is only in infused justification that suffering and pain can find meaning and purpose.

So in so far as Sue Bee's analogy, or any analogy depicts the God of tzedakah/charity of the Bible, I am all for it and there is commonality, BUT in so far as any analogy depicts the wrathful god of Calvin and Luther there is very little commonality.

But as I said above, Sue Bee's analogy is not an analogy that supports imputed justification while it could be used to support infused justification.

Christine said...

I had the same thought - that Sue Bee's analogy wasn't like imputation. Wouldn't an imputation model of the family include a father with one perfect child and many imperfect children, but the imperfect ones are able to superimpose the perfect child's image on to themselves so that when the father looks at them they see the perfect child and not the real person beneath. And by extension then, any actions, good or bad, taken by the imperfect children become irrelevant with regard to relationship with the father, since he sees only Mr. Perfect. And the suffering of the other children is meaningless, as Anon said, because the Father neither sees it nor values it nor comes into it.

Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I have been a way for a bit.



@ Christine



Do you have your own blog btw?



Imputation models are hard to develop because they don't have analogies in nature. When you talk about infusion you can use natural occurring relationships predicated upon love (bride / groom, son / father, child / mother) or even natural phenomena (such as the infusion of tea). Saying things in long form here, imputed alien forensic righteousness combined with double imputed penal subsititutionary atonement, is exceedingly difficult to come up with an analogy for because what those are, are legal theories based upon certain philosophical understandings of law and legal justice -- not upon anything naturally occurring.



The closest that I can come up with for a real life analogy to imputed penal substitutionary atonement is the 'whipping boy' phenomena (but still unnatural and contrived) that occurred in late 15-16th century England but even that is screwed up and doesn't work as instead of the King punishing his wicked Son he punishes the innocent child of the household. But it still has the basics -- an indigent and wrathful father has to uphold his moral code and needs to punish in order to restore a sense of order / his honor, an innocent stands in for the guilty and receives the punishment, the guilty is counted as not having committed the crime. But again the analogy makes the father out to be a monster.

Christine said...

This has been a very interesting discussion, and I appreciate the civility of everyone involved.

I don't have my own blog. I am a convert to Catholicism from an evangelical background, and my main interest is in seeking common ground and in fair discussions where there are not straw men and false notions of what Catholics believe. Since I was raised in an anti-Catholic denomination, I was stunned at the misinformation out there in that anti-Catholic world. In the conversion process, I was, and continue to be amazed at the scriptural and natural-law basis for Catholic teaching - every time I though "well, I know that THIS particular teaching can't POSSIBLY be true" I would find a fascinatingly sound foundation for it.

I can live with disagreement as long as it is conducted in a charitable and reasonable way, as is done at CTC, and as we have done here on this topic.

Jennie and I have found common ground here and there, prayed for each other, and she puts up with my interactions generously.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine



I spent some time in evangelical/non-denomination land years ago back in college. It was an...experience. It was my first exposure with the vitriol that exists between different denominations as well as between Catholics and Protestants. I just never grew up with that.



My hanging out at CTC is actually a very interesting story -- a real maddening tear jerker actually but that is for another time.



One of the things that I find absolutely fascinating and this is especially true for Reformed theology (even what is taught at the seminary level...for example RTS) is that when it comes to Catholicism it is often a horrible misrepresentation. The straw man Catholicism is created from a badly misunderstood Thomism from early last century at the latest. It is often as if no one has actually read a Catholic work, especially a modern work by an important orthodox theologian.



Anyway, I have a very strong interest in why people believe the way that they do and that results in me getting involved in ecumenical discussion (often it seems like I cannot escape the topic). I am the only Catholic in my family (including extended) though that has little impact on why I am interested in ecumenical discussions (it impacts other things).



The Natural-Law is one of the strongest things going for Catholicism -- it is really so strange reading writings of Protestants trying to trash and defame natural-law.



I doo have appreciated Jennie letting me talk here (and letting me do it as Annon.)

Jennie said...

Hi everyone,
I've been away this week with my family for a vacation and just got back tonight. We had a relaxing time at the beach at St. Simons Island.
I'll get back into the comments as soon as I can. Thanks!

Jennie said...

1.) That is not an analogy for imputed penal justification. There is nothing imputed about it and nothing penal about it.

Anon,
Are you insisting that those who believe in imputation can't believe that that is only the beginning of the relationship with God. I don't think most protestants, reformed or otherwise, believe that that's as far as it goes. We all believe that God sanctifies us and makes us new creations.

I also think that you are misunderstanding something about God's love for us. You seem to think that in order for God to love us, we have to have 'moral weight' as I think you called it. God's love for us, just like our love for our own children, has nothing to do with morality. We love them because they are ours, and also because they have personalities that are loveable, even though they have faults that cause us and themselves much pain.
We are made by God in His image, for the purpose of love and glory. We are fallen, but God's image is in us, so we have personhood that has potential for endless loveliness and good. God wants us to be what we were meant to be. Protestants and Catholics believe this.

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennie said...

In other words, both Sue Bee and I have showed that, though we believe in imputation, we also believe that God makes us truly His children, and that even before we were His, He loved. Not because of Christ, but because He created us in His image.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie (hope you had a wonderful time with your family!)

Are you insisting that those who believe in imputation can't believe that that is only the beginning of the relationship with God. I don't think most protestants, reformed or otherwise, believe that that's as far as it goes. We all believe that God sanctifies us and makes us new creations.

I am insisting that it is not an analogy for imputed penal justification and thus its usage in the discussion is a distraction. We are after all talking about justification not sanctification (for Catholics they are the same thing, for most Protestants they are different things). Sanctification is a different topic and I would like to keep the focus on justification, for it is the point of my writing that a god who would justify according to imputed penal justification is not a god worth worshiping.

As for it being the beginning of the relationship with God, first scripture says that God loves us before, so the point of justification is not the beginning of man's relationship with God, personal or otherwise. Additionally, imputed penal justification is as far as it goes in so far as we are talking about man's relationship with God from the point of view of righteousness and justice. All that is given is given at that point: there is no more, no greater, no increase. The Father's view of man, in terms of why man is rightious, remains static: In so far as man is man he is a sinner and unjust -- in so far as he has imputed alien rightiousness he is just: "simul iustus et peccator".

Love though does in fact require moral weight. We love things according to their participation in the good. You say that "your love for your children has nothing to do with morality", and yet when you list reasons why you love them, you list moral reasons 1.) they are yours, 2.) they have personalities 3.) they are loveable.

FYI Reformed and Lutherans believe that the Image of God, the imago dei, was lost in the fall.

Question: If man has potential for endless loveliness and good does that mean that righteousness can increase after the point of initial justification?

..... we also believe that God makes us truly His children....

Does God make us His children or does He declare us His children? That is the turn of the screw. If you believe that He "makes us" then you really don't believe in imputed justification as taught by Luther or Calvin.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

I have had several thoughts over the last few days but this is the newest.

Imputed vs. Infused justification has real impact on the way we relate to others (including God).

Scripture is very clear that Christian marriage is something that we can look at in order to understand the relationship between God and man. (it also directly states that marriage is a sacrament but that is another topic).

Imputed justification is all about declaring. Thus for Protestants, the man and wife are married only because the minister has declared them to be married: "I now pronounce you...."

For Catholics, where infused is about making, the priest does not declare anyone to be married -- rather instead the bride and groom, through the grace of God, make each other husband and wife.

The structure of how Catholic's marry is based upon how we see the Son marrying his Bride, the Church. We see that the Church is made Bride and Wife, thus in Christian human marriage we see that the man must make the woman wife, he does not simply declare her to be such, rather he is to ever seek to transform her by gifting to her his life so that the maiden that he fell in love with might be transformed into a new existence as wife and that her potentiality might be fecund and bear fruit so that maiden-->bride-->wife-->mother. If a human man does this to a human woman, why on earth would we think that God's relationship with man would be so small and so so much less as to find the totality of it to be encapsulated in "imputed penal justification". God so loved you that the Son took the Father's beating for you??? How small how little (what a monster the Father). God so loved you that He gave you His own divine life? How grand! How much more than human marriage!

Anonymous said...

Another thought on why imputed justification doesn't work.

When it comes to the theme of sin and justification and righteousness scripture at one point says "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".

Question: Is that all that scripture says on that topic? Does it leave justice at "an eye for an eye"? Is there perhaps a better way than a "tooth for a tooth"? Isn't there? Doesn't scripture in multiple points void "an eye for an eye", prevent it from being carried out, and suggest a better way to deal with sin and the need for justice (by both the accused and the victims)? Doesn't Jesus Himself suggest a better way?

Imputed penal justification is just a variant on "an eye for an eye": A sinner deserves X amount of wrath. The Father either takes this wrath out on the individual or takes this wrath out on the Son. An eye must be plucked out. Pick which one: you eye or Christ's eye.

So honestly we are to believe that God spent millennia teaching His chosen people that "an eye for an eye" is not the best way and yet we are to believe that our problem with our relationship with God is ultimately resolved by someone getting their eye plucked out?

We are supposed to treat people at a higher ethical standard than the way God ultimately treats us or the Son? Seriously?

Jennie said...

Anonymous and Christine,
been relaxing and gadding about with my family, so I haven't been able to concentrate to answer your latest comments. I apologize and will try to apply myself asap.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie. No prob.

@ All.

Another thought on why imputed justification doesn't work.

This one is not complex.

Jesus said "I am the truth". He did not say "I declare truth" or "I choose what is true", He said "I am the truth".

Now sin is to be out of relationship with truth. Because Jesus identified truth with His person, movement from untruth to truth, or unrighteousness to righteousness cannot be a legal maneuver where one moves from a declaration of legally unrighteous to a declaration of legally righteous (which is all imputed alien justification is in the Lutheran and Reformed schema) but it must be an internal and ontological movement. Because Jesus identified truth with a state of being (in particular the ontological nature of His being) the movement from unrighteousness to righteousness must be also a movement in the state of being. Positive shifts in being, in ontology, are only capable via infusion.

Jennie said...

I would like to keep the focus on justification, for it is the point of my writing that a god who would justify according to imputed penal justification is not a god worth worshiping.

Anonymous,
I do believe that Jesus was imputed with our sins and that God's wrath was carried out upon Him in our place. That is only part of the picture, but it is central to Christianity. From the beginnning, the wages of sin has been death. Adam and Eve saw God kill animals to cover their nakedness, which symbolized the future sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God.
The amazing thing is that God carried out His wrath upon Himself. The Son willingly took our sin and bore the punishment. That is the greatest love. Sin is a horrible thing, and it had to be cleansed and punished and atoned for.

Jennie said...

Isaiah 53 came to mind before I typed the last comment, but I forgot to add that. That passage, as well as the whole old Testament system of sacrifice, shows the horror of sin that brings death; and the sacrifice of a perfect and innocent life that must be made to cover it and cleanse it.

Jennie said...

The whole theme of sacrifice in scripture pictures the depth of sin contrasted with the love of God that makes the sacrifice Himself for love of His creation. Where sin is great, love and grace abound all the more; and 'the one who is forgiven much, loves much'.

Jennie said...

Another thought on "a god who would justify according to imputed penal justification is not a god worth worshiping":

Anonymous, since you had also earlier said that you didn't agree with the idea that God took out wrath upon Jesus on the cross, I assume that you link imputed penal justification with that. Here's an analogy that is probably often used, but I believe it fits: Would justice have been done if a human judge presided when a man is found guilty of murder, yet the judge does not carry out the sentence appropriate for the crime. Instead the judge just says 'I'm going to have mercy on you and let you go', hoping that the fact of his mercy will work on that person to make him repent. Wouldn't you be outraged if you heard of such a thing? Of course the human judge has no power to make anyone righteous as God does. However, righteousness only comes after faith and repentance, and the Holy Spirit renews the person. God doesn't take an unrepentant person and just fill him with righteousness.
I don't know if that is helpful, or if the analogy is correct.

Jennie said...

Adding to the last comment: the sentence and penalty of death for the sins of mankind had to be paid for justice to be done. Instead of exacting that penalty, God Himself planned to be both the judge and the sacrifice in order to pay for our sins. Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, willingly took that penalty because of the Godhead's love for His creation. God became a man, and became 'the guilty one' even though He had no guilt Himself, so He could bring us to repentance. When we see the truth of the gospel, it's like the criminal in the analogy I used: the judge has himself taken on the penalty of death, and this great gospel of love brought the criminal to repentance. Of course God also opens our eyes and hearts by the work of the Spirit and the Word of God so we can see the light and repent by faith.

Christine said...

To carry through your analogy of the human judge, that judge (in accordance with penal substitution theory) would be saying, "SOMEONE must be punished or I will condemn EVERYONE" and choose an innocent bystander in the courtroom and pronounce execution on that person in order to exonerate all other criminals. And it would be the PUNISHMENT that is emphasized, not the forgiveness now given to all other criminals.

In the substitutionary atonement model taught by early fathers such as Anselm and Augustine, Christ did indeed substitute for us in restoring the honor due to God - honor that had been lacking due to sin. Rather than being the forced whipping boy for a wrathful God, Jesus showed us and suffered for us, willingly giving his life "as a ransom for many". The penal substitution model still leaves us with the problem of imputation vs. true sanctification.

Anselm said that "through Christ's suffering in humanity's place, he overcame and liberated us from death and the devil", rather than propitiating a vengeful, wrathful God.

Jennie, I still think that you AGREE with Anon more than you disagree, because you do not believe in Reformed imputation that does not allow for true transformation of the sinner. I didn't understand your defensive reaction to Anon regarding Sue Bee's analogy.

Jennie said...

Anselm said that "through Christ's suffering in humanity's place, he overcame and liberated us from death and the devil", rather than propitiating a vengeful, wrathful God.

Jennie, I still think that you AGREE with Anon more than you disagree, because you do not believe in Reformed imputation that does not allow for true transformation of the sinner. I didn't understand your defensive reaction to Anon regarding Sue Bee's analogy.


Christine,
I agree with what Anselm said, and I don't think propitiation is God taking out His anger on someone as if we would go beat someone up just to get out our anger. I think Anon said earlier that the picture is more for us than for God. In other words, WE have to see how bad sin is and how holy God is, and then we can see how much His love means when He offers salvation.
I do agree with Anon in that aspect. I don't believe that Reformed really don't allow for transformation of the sinner. That's the whole message of the gospel. They just clarify that the righteousness which makes us right is not our own.
I was not being defensive about Anon's reaction to Sue Bee's analogy. I'm sorry that it came across that way. I just wanted Anon to see that Sue Bee and Reformed believers do believe in God's transformation of believers. They just stress the difference between justification and the following sanctification because they don't want people to think that their own righteousness saves them in any way.

Christine said...

OK - that helps me understand better. So perhaps the Reformed view, in its eagerness that no one give themselves credit for their works, has taken it too far - to the point where they claim that God doesn't not see us as we really are, but only as Christ, IF and ONLY IF, we are of the predestined elect. And you're explaining that they believe in sanctification, but my understanding is that they do not believe in our freedom to choose to participate in that process.

It would be wrong to say that ON OUR OWN we can participate in valuable and meritorious actions, but it seems we agree that BY HIS GRACE we can. And that is synergism, and I know that you've said you're a monergist-but-not-a-Calvinist, but I don't want to nit-pick it! We have had a great discussion, and a lot of common ground, on this thread.

Jennie said...

but my understanding is that they do not believe in our freedom to choose to participate in that process.
I think that's right, though there are varying degrees of Calvinism.

It would be wrong to say that ON OUR OWN we can participate in valuable and meritorious actions, but it seems we agree that BY HIS GRACE we can.

It's true that by His grace believers can participate in valuable and meritorious actions, if by that you mean actions that participate in bringing others to the gospel and helping fellow believers. I don't believe that we can gain merit in the sense that it makes us more just or more saved. We are already saved if we have been regenerated by faith in Christ. But we are also 'being saved' in that we are being made more like Christ and in that we will one day be completely redeemed by having glorified noncorrupt bodies, along with all redeemed creation. we can't be made more alive, since we were dead in our sins, and now are made alive in Christ.

Christine said...

"can't be made more alive"; "can't be more saved"

Yes. What we CAN do is deepen our relationship with God through continually choosing the good, choosing love, by His grace.

And this is what I (and all of us here, I think) find so beautiful about a Christianity that is not ONLY about "getting saved", as my childhood denomination seemed to dwell on, and stop at.

Jennie said...

And this is what I (and all of us here, I think) find so beautiful about a Christianity that is not ONLY about "getting saved", as my childhood denomination seemed to dwell on, and stop at.

Yes, I sometimes forget that many, including myself, have good reason to be disenchanted with their denomination or church's teaching, or lack of it. My childhood experiences in protestant churches were often not good, and the church as a whole has often failed to be a light and to teach our own people how to live the christian life. years ago, my husband and I had drifted away from church for several years, and were called back to it by a renewal of God's grace in our lives, and a longing for Him and for His people again. God led us to churches that helped us to grow in discipleship, for which I'm so grateful.

Jennie said...

Yes. What we CAN do is deepen our relationship with God through continually choosing the good, choosing love, by His grace.

Yes, and by prayer and seeking Him in scripture.

And, as my husband taught in his righteousness study, we are not adding to our righteousness as we grow, but we need to continually crucify the flesh which as Paul taught in Romans, still affects us. Then, as our flesh is taken out of the way (like Christ's flesh was the torn veil), our light can shine brightly; the light that is already there because of Christ.

Christine said...

Not sure where "adding to our righteousness" comes in, but surely part of sanctification is using our free will to be more and more in "right relationship" with God and people.

Paul's "flesh" in Catholic understanding refers to the inclination to sin, not to our actual earthly bodies - is that your view too?

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie



I do believe that Jesus was imputed with our sins and that God's wrath was carried out upon Him in our place. That is only part of the picture, but it is central to Christianity......The Son willingly took our sin and bore the punishment. That is the greatest love. Sin is a horrible thing, and it had to be cleansed and punished and atoned for.



The problem though is that imputed justification (the Father taking His wrath out upon the Son) is not central to Christianity. That thought is foreign to the first 1500 years of Christianity. Eastern Christianity has no and has never had a concept of penal justification for starters. The most ancient post Apostolic Christian theology is done in Greek. How can a concept be central to Christianity if it is both not found in Greek theology and in fact the concept that exists instead (theosis) makes it impossible to hold to imputed justification?



I think you are making my point. If you say that I cannot drive to meet you for coffee because my car is out of gas, then I have a gas shortage problem. If man cannot be in a relationship with the Father because the Father is wrathful, then the Father has a wrath problem. Again, if the solution to an issue is to resolve X then the problem is X not a secondary issue. In imputed justification what is resolved is X, the Father's wrath. Keep in mind that the sacrifice of the cross does not impute back to man the alien righteousness of Christ, that is what man's participation in the resurrection does. WHat the sacrifice of the cross resolves is the Father's wrath by imputing to Christ the amount of man's punishment. The sacrifice itself is only dealing with the Father's wrath. It is because Christ is raised, because the Father decrees merit to the Son's action, that the Son can then impute to man His alien righteousness. But the sacrifice only deals with wrath, thus as the imputation of penal punishment and the carrying out of that punishment is the solution, the problem is the Father's wrath. There is no other part of the picture because dealing with the Father's wraith is all the sacrifice does.



I can think of many other greater loves than what is expressed in penal punishment. The love of Prometheus for humanity for example -- that he would dare the anger of Zeus and give up that which He had to help mankind. The love of the elf maiden Arwen to give up her immortality to marry Aragorn. Siddhartha discovered the key to end the cycle of endless reincarnations and yet chose to reincarnate as the Buddha so that he might teach others the Path. Should the love of the Father be bested by stories?



There are many trinitarian flaws in penal justification. The Father is not the Son is not the Spirit. They are one nature but three persons. You cannot say that God carried out His wrath upon Himself for it is only the Son that was the sacrifice. You can only say that the Son appeased the Father's wrath, but then what about the Son's wrath and the Spirits wrath? Sin doesn't just offend the Father but the Son and the Spirit as well. That there is only one sacrifice and only the Father is appeased indicates that the Son saves us from the Father. Does the Son have wrath? How is that taken care of? What about the Spirit?

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie



With the theme of sacrifice in the OT --- Yes sure there are sacrifices all over the Old Testament. We are in agreement there. They are not though imputed penal sacrifices. Well the scapegoat sacrifice is sort of but in that sacrifice the substituted victim is not punished but rather set free. So much for wrath there. Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God. Is the Passover Lamb a penal sacrifice? No it is not.

@ Jennie

With you Judge analogy: The concept of justice found in the pagan goddess Themis is not biblical justice. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, is justice according to the natural law -- it is not however the justice towards which we are called to bring about by scripture. As a rejoinder to your analogy I offer you this parable of Jesus "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, 'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?' He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"


God doesn't take an unrepentant person and just fill him with righteousness Grace isn't gas that you fill a person with as one would fill a car tank.

Of course the human judge has no power to make anyone righteous as God does Leaving aside the veracity of that, are you arguing that God makes us righteous? Are we righteous because God has made it so (Catholic / Orthodox) or because God has declared it so (Lutheran / Reformed)? If you believe in imputed justification you should be arguing for it instead of arguing for infused justification.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine



Exactly. It is very clear from reading any writing on penal substitutionary atonement / infused penal justification that what is emphasized is the punishment and wrath of the Father, not forgiveness. Besides, if I owe you $20 and Jennie pays you $20 instead of me do you forgive me? No. The debt is paid not forgiven. Thus penal substitutionary atonement (eye for an eye justice) is not forgiveness but rather payment of debt.



What God offers us is true forgiveness -- we have offended Him greatly and He is willing to forgive that offense if we but return to Him. The Lord's Prayer / Our Father says "Forgive us of our debts" not "Pay for us our debts".

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

And, as my husband taught in his righteousness study, we are not adding to our righteousness as we grow, but we need to continually crucify the flesh which as Paul taught in Romans, still affects us. Then, as our flesh is taken out of the way (like Christ's flesh was the torn veil), our light can shine brightly; the light that is already there because of Christ.



First, Christians are not gnostic dualists. It is not the goal of a Christian to rid ourselves of our bodies so that we can be pure little spirits of light.



Secondly would you please address the following: St. Augustine's On Man's Perfection in Righteousness where his subject is on the increase and perfection of rightiousness via the Christian coming to the fullness of love which is journied towards via fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. Specifically this part ....As long, then, as we are absent from the Lord, we walk by faith, not by sight; 2 Corinthians 5:6 whence it is said, The just shall live by faith. Habakkuk 2:4 Our righteousness in this pilgrimage is this— that we press forward to that perfect and full righteousness in which there shall be perfect and full love in the sight of His glory; and that now we hold to the rectitude and perfection of our course, by keeping under our body and bringing it into subjection, 1 Corinthians 9:27 by doing our alms cheerfully and heartily, while bestowing kindnesses and forgiving the trespasses which have been committed against us, and by continuing instant in prayer; Romans 12:12 — and doing all this with sound doctrine, whereon are built a right faith, a firm hope, and a pure charity. This is now our righteousness, in which we pass through our course hungering and thirsting after the perfect and full righteousness, in order that we may hereafter be satisfied therewith.

Christine said...

Anon has again laid out the crux of the imputation question: Are we righteous because God has made it so (Catholic / Orthodox) or because God has declared it so (Lutheran / Reformed)?

And this leads again to the marriage analogy - is the couple "declared" to be one flesh, or does the couple, as witnessed by the Church, truly become one as they make their vows and consummate their union in the sacrament (God's giving of his very life) of marriage?

I think that at heart, Jennie, you agree with the infusion/relationship concept.

Jennie said...

Not sure where "adding to our righteousness" comes in, but surely part of sanctification is using our free will to be more and more in "right relationship" with God and people.

Christine,
I just 'added that in' as a freebie, since our conversation reminded me of Eddie's study. His point was that we have the righteousness of Christ, but we still have our flesh that gets in the way and must be crucified daily so that the light of Christ can shine through us, rather than being obscured by our 'self'. Our righteousness doesn't increase, since it is Christ's, but if we walk in the Spirit and crucify the flesh then we come to resemble Him more and more. I've got a long way to go on that, but I'm thankful that Eddie has a gift to share these principles in a way that is understandable.

Paul's "flesh" in Catholic understanding refers to the inclination to sin, not to our actual earthly bodies - is that your view too?

Yes, but it is 'attached' to our actual bodies, such as our appetites. That's why it's called 'the flesh' I think.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie

Our righteousness doesn't increase, since it is Christ's...

You here are affirming my origional point that the human person doesn't matter, only Christ matters. "I" am not rightious, only Christ is rightious. Who I am, what I do, counts for nothing and is of no value. Only what Christ has done has value. No matter how you slice it, the point still remains in your thought that for those that believe in imputed penal rightiousness there is a barrior between the individual and God, and as such there is just as much of a lack of communion between the justified elect and the unjustifed. God does not have a real relationship with the individual, only a relationship with the imputed alien rightiousness.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine

*nods* That is right. FYI one of the tricks to detecting bad theology is that bad theology can be traced back to an intellectual hypothesis based on an a priori notion, where as good theology is predicated upon patterns that we find in nature and human relationship. There is an order and pattern to creation.

Marriage is one of the best ways that we can understand what God does in our salvation. That is why the assault against marriage in our modern world is of such grave concern. If marriage can be destroyed or skewed enough, it will be harder to make the Gospel intelligible.

Jennie said...

Anon, I'm so disappointed that you were not bowled over by my amazingly brilliant arguments! ;)

You here are affirming my origional point that the human person doesn't matter, only Christ matters.

I don't see how saying that God being willing to die for us means that the human person doesn't matter. To me it means that we matter very much.

"I" am not rightious, only Christ is rightious. Who I am, what I do, counts for nothing and is of no value.

We are righteous by faith and by grace and by love, not by what we do in an effort to be righteous. This is because God has made it that way, that He should always make His strength perfect in our weakness.We are always dependent upon Him. We are weak, but because of the love He gives us and which we return to Him, we are righteous. Also because of His life and Spirit that has made us new, we can live righteously by faith. The just shall live by his faith.

No matter how you slice it, the point still remains in your thought that for those that believe in imputed penal rightiousness there is a barrior between the individual and God, and as such there is just as much of a lack of communion between the justified elect and the unjustifed.

No there is not a barrier between the redeemed individual and God, because Christ has removed it by the crucifixion of His flesh, which also allows us to crucify our 'flesh' in Him daily by faith and submission to God. Dying to sin by faith in Christ, and then daily living by faith, allows us to walk with God and commune with Him. Our sin is what separated us from God, and Christ has removed it. We only have to believe and submit by faith to what the Spirit has shown us, to the gospel that Jesus has taken away our sins and given us His righteousness.

God does not have a real relationship with the individual, only a relationship with the imputed alien rightiousness.

God has a relationship with the redeemed individual because we have responded to His offering of love by faith. We could have refused it by rebelling against the gospel and refusing to repent and submit to it. We could have said we don't need His forgiveness or His righteousness. We want our own goodness or our own sin. Either one is rebellion: wanting to remain in sin, or wanting to depend upon our own goodness. If we look to Him then we are His and we can walk every day in love and faith, having the Holy Spirit actually living in our bodies and directing us, helping us, communing with us.

Jennie said...

Here's another passage that goes along with what I said about strength being made perfect in weakness. We never are strong in ourselves, and the goodness doesn't come forth from us but from God. I believe when we are resurrected we will be strong and perfect, but still always dependent upon God.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

Christine said...

This is your comment that prompted Anon's response that "the human person doesn't matter":

Our righteousness doesn't increase, since it is Christ's

Most of the time, you seem to agree with infusion/relationship, but then you throw in an imputation zinger like that :0

Jennie said...

Most of the time, you seem to agree with infusion/relationship

Christine, it might be helpful if you and Anon could explain just what it means to have infused righteousness. If God is infusing righteousness into us, then it isn't our righteousness; it is coming from God, rather than from our own strength or inner source. So it's still not our own goodness that God is seeing when He looks at us, in your model. But God loved us before we were righteous, because we are His creations, made in His image. He carefully designed each of us specially. The human person matters because God made us. Even though we fell, God loves us. Even when we were dead in sins, He called us to Himself, and raised us. That's why we matter. Not because we are 'good' in ourselves. But love and faith make us righteous when Christ's blood has washed us clean.

Christine said...

I don't think I really know enough to answer well. I'm sure Anon can. I know I don't think that when God looks at me, he sees Christ's righteousness INSTEAD of the real me. Maybe it's the "instead" that is tripping us up. And I'm sure we all agree that whatever righteousness anyone has is a gift of God, made possible by Christ, but I don't think it is an ILLUSION, but a real participation in God's life and love, only because He wills to have us co-create with him, out of love.

So that is my unscholarly comment. We're close to agreement but wherever there is the concept of an illusion, I must reject it. I reject the idea that we are so totally and irrevocably depraved that if God looked at us without having had Christ's righteousness "imputed" to us, he would reject and condemn us. I reject the idea that He doesn't REALLY change us (and to Him be all the glory for that, but he lets us participate; he lets us choose him, he gives us opportunities to love)! Do you see what I mean? Fathers who love their children want them to BE good, not just SEEM good. They teach them and encouragement them and challenge them and help them. A good father doesn't just give his child a sign to wear around their neck that says "Righteous" but underneath is filth and cruelty, so that the "Rightous" sign remains ever a lie.

Jennie said...

Christine,
I don't remember off hand reading anywhere in Scripture that when God looks at us, He sees Christ or Christ's righteousness. I certainly don't remember that He sees Christ 'instead' of us. So IF that's the Calvinist or Reformed teaching, which I'm not clear on, then that is a man-made explanation that falls short of the truth. Any time we go off on our own and try to explain things in our own words, we are going to fall short. My explanations have fallen short, the Calvinist doctrine falls short or goes beyond Scripture in some things, I believe. You already know I think Catholic doctrine does this in some things. Christians can learn much by listening to each other, and especially by directing each other back to the source: Christ as revealed in His word.

Christine said...

Jennie: "I don't remember off hand reading anywhere in Scripture that when God looks at us, He sees Christ or Christ's righteousness. "

But just previously you'd said "Our righteousness doesn't increase, since it is Christ's"

And I am thinking that the italicized statements mean the same thing, basically, and both describe so-called forensic imputation, with no true sanctification . . . so I am misunderstanding you somehow.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie



Infused Rightiousness Made Simple:



First a bible verse to get the proper train of thought:



Ez 36:25-28 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28 You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.



When we are talking about righteousness and its infusion, we are not talking about a movement like so X --> (X + R) . Rather we are talking about a movement like so X ---> T. The infusion of righteousness is not akin to filling up an empty gas tank (X+R) but rather the transubstantiation of X into T. The individual that is infused with righteousness becomes a new creation -- a creation that is suitable for a synergistic relationship with God.



Something simpler perhaps.



You have had kids so you understand that you husband made you a mother. He infused you with his love for you, which not only manifested itself in the physical creation of your child, but also spiritually and ontologically from you moving from a position of bride/wife to mother.



Something very similar to this is what Catholic are talking about with infused justification. What is infused is not the righteousness by which God is righteous but rather the righteousness by which we are made righteous. An individual who is infused with righteousness moves ontologically from a position of X --> T or from sinner to a position of being worthy to be Bride. But we also believe that we increase in righteousness so there is a constant progression and a lot more but here I am just focusing on initial infused justification. (btw when we speak of increasing in righteousness (especially when talking about sanctifying grace), we are not speaking about a cup that is slowly filled up. Rather we are talking about a full cup that becomes a bigger cup that is also full to an even bigger cup that is also full).

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie



I don't expect you to be bowled over, just to get you to think outside of the box for a bit. ;-p I do have an axe to grind with imputed penal justification -- I was Methodist prior to being Catholic and they don't believe in imputed penal justification either.



don't see how saying that God being willing to die for us means that the human person doesn't matter.



It is in you saying that Christ alone is righteous. A personal relationship cannot exist between God and an individual who is unrighteous (if it could, hell wouldn't be necessary). To be righteous can be said to mean "to be pleasing to God". If Christ not me alone pleases God, then I do not matter.



Even dust on the scale weighs something. Is the individual human person less than the weight of dust?



....we are righteous....



It is language like this here that makes me think that in your heart and in how you read scripture you are infused justification BUT you are imputed due to the confessions of your church.



The barrier between the individual who is redeemed and God is the imputed alien righteousness of Christ. This righteousness is not Christ but rather an imputation of merit that the Father owed the Son. Crassly its an "You Are Ok in My Book" sticker. Therefore, when an individual has that sticker imputed to them, God's interaction with the individual is not with the individual (God cannot interact with sin) but only the imputed sticker.



Our sin is what separated us from God, and Christ has removed it.



You cannot hold to this and believe in imputed justification. That is the point in Luther and Calvin -- the sinner remains a sinner. All that is imputed to Christ is the punishment owed to a sinner not the sin itself. The sin itself is not imputed only the punishment owed.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie



Just to re-iterate righteousness is not like gas that fills a car. It is more akin to a state of being.



You are female because you are female. Do you agree? But you are also not "in and of yourself" female because who you are doesn't determine what "female" is. Being righteous is the same thing. You are righteous because you are righteous. But you are also not "in and of yourself" righteous because who you are doesn't determine what "righteous" is. Even though you are not in and of yourself neither righteous nor female, who you are in your being is righteous and female.



righteousness, justice, justification, charity -- these are all the same word derivatives in hebrew (tzedek). Justice is the giving of charity to those that are lacking. Justification is the act of giving charity and recieving charity. Righteousness is the state of having charity. Charity is the essence of love -- the self-gift for the sake of the other. The hebrew only makes sense if we understand it as "infused" or being made not "imputed" or being declared.

Jennie said...

I am thinking that the italicized statements mean the same thing, basically, and both describe so-called forensic imputation, with no true sanctification . . . so I am misunderstanding you somehow.

I don't think they're exactly the same thing. Christ's righteousness is real, and it covers our nakedness, like God covered Adam and Eve's nakedness. But it doesn't hide us from God. Jesus tore the veil between God and man. His righteousness clothes us, rather than hiding us.

Christine said...

Jesus tore the veil, but then re-veiled us (clothed us in his righteousness)?

Anon - beautiful, beautiful, clear explanations. Thank you. Jennie, what do you think?

Christine said...

Jennie - maybe it seems to you like if you agree with Anon, you are agreeing with too much Catholic theology, but I don't think that's true. It would just be an area of common ground. Is that part of the problem? Or am I seeing a problem where there's none?

To risk sounding like a broken record, you are not Reformed nor Calvinist, so why then do the imputation-model concepts keep re-appearing? Or, what keeps you from complete agreement with Anon's scriptural and well-founded reasoning?

Jennie said...

Jesus tore the veil, but then re-veiled us (clothed us in his righteousness)?

No, go back and read what I said and you'll see that I am saying Jesus tore the veil so we would now have direct access and relationship with God. His righteousness is NOT a veil, but is our clothing to cover our nakedness (the shame that we have because of sin). The veil of the Temple separated the people from direct access to the Holy of Holies. Jesus tore that veil so we can now go directly to God with nothing in between. A veil is not the same as a robe.

Jennie said...

It is in you saying that Christ alone is righteous. A personal relationship cannot exist between God and an individual who is unrighteous (if it could, hell wouldn't be necessary). To be righteous can be said to mean "to be pleasing to God". If Christ not me alone pleases God, then I do not matter.

Anonymous,
I do believe that we are truly righteous by faith in Christ when we are justified. Faith is our response to God when we hear and submit to the gospel. The gospel says that Christ has died to wash away our sins, give us forgiveness and make us new, so we can be children of God, in right relationship with Him.
The Bible says, 'without faith it is impossible to please God' and 'the just shall live by his faith' and 'For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God'. We can't save ourselves by anything we can do, so God has ordained that we be saved by faith in Christ. Our faith response, in submission to God, pleases Him. I think you know this; I'm just giving you the progression of my thoughts on this.

Jennie said...

The individual that is infused with righteousness becomes a new creation -- a creation that is suitable for a synergistic relationship with God.

I can agree on the new creation, though I'd rather not get into the synergistic part right now. It opens a whole different argument.

It is language like this here that makes me think that in your heart and in how you read scripture you are infused justification BUT you are imputed due to the confessions of your church.

I believe that scripture teaches imputation, but I don't agree with the reformed that it is just a legal declaration. I believe in regeneration, the new creation, and of course the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that gives us 'the power to become the sons of God'. I believe in imputation because of Romans 4: 'Abraham believed, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' I believe our faith is accounted to us for righteousness as well, and also brings the Holy Spirit and new life and being to us. We are saved by faith, and now we can live by faith.

Jennie said...

I'm thinking imputation may be only instantaniously necessary, since God comes to a person who is sinful and an enemy when that person hears the gospel and responds by faith. That person is a sinner, but God comes in and lives in him/her immediately. So Christ's righteousness is credited by faith before that person is actually righteous, so that God can come in and make him new. That's speculation on my part.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine

Very good. You are married and I am not. You have experiences and a life that is not open to me. This gives you a very deep well from which to draw analogies from when it relates to how God views his people and interacts with them. Consider how the drawing together of you and your husband is akin to how God draws towards man. If you do this your "unscholarly" comments will be much more profound than those who are scholars.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

I don't remember off hand reading anywhere in Scripture that when God looks at us, He sees Christ or Christ's righteousness.

That is because its not in scripture. Yet it is what Calvinists believe (i gave you a book to look it up in, would you like me to find some quotes?) The whole imputed penal forensic justification thing isn't found in scripture. Yet this is what Luther and Calvin taught. In order to arrive at the conclusions that they did, the intellectual process that they took was to take certain understandings of pagan greek (namely pagan legal understanding of justice), combine that with certain philosophies that arose out of the medieval debate over the problem of universals (namely nominalism, pure aristotelianism), react against the late medieval theology of merit/demerit and its common place missunderstanding and application, develop a set of a priori presuppositions (imputed penal justification which is a modification of Anselm), read all the previous into certain passages in Romans, and replace the Gospels with the book of Romans as the normative expression of the "Gospel", and then shore all that up by claiming sola scriptura as a means for rejecting anyone that doesn't agree with you. (It is an overlooked point that sola scriptura doesn't appear in Luther's thought until after his condemnation at the Diet of Worms -- if the ecclesial authorities would have agreed with him, SS would have never developed.)

Jennie said...

Jennie - maybe it seems to you like if you agree with Anon, you are agreeing with too much Catholic theology, but I don't think that's true. It would just be an area of common ground. Is that part of the problem? Or am I seeing a problem where there's none?

I think the problem is that, as I said yesterday (I think), I don't really understand what Catholics mean by 'infusion of righteousness' so I don't know whether I really agree or not. Anon's answers helped me to understand a little better, I think. As I've said also, I agree that we are transformed, not just declared righteous.

To risk sounding like a broken record, you are not Reformed nor Calvinist, so why then do the imputation-model concepts keep re-appearing?

I think I answered that in my above comment at 4:42 pm today: I said that scripture teaches imputed or accounted righteousness, and went on in the next comment to speculate on why.

Jennie said...

That is because its not in scripture. Yet it is what Calvinists believe (i gave you a book to look it up in, would you like me to find some quotes?) The whole imputed penal forensic justification thing isn't found in scripture. Yet this is what Luther and Calvin taught. In order to arrive at the conclusions that they did, the intellectual process that they took was to take certain understandings of pagan greek (namely pagan legal understanding of justice), combine that with certain philosophies that arose out of the medieval debate over the problem of universals (namely nominalism, pure aristotelianism), react against the late medieval theology of merit/demerit and its common place missunderstanding and application, develop a set of a priori presuppositions (imputed penal justification which is a modification of Anselm), read all the previous into certain passages in Romans, and replace the Gospels with the book of Romans as the normative expression of the "Gospel", and then shore all that up by claiming sola scriptura as a means for rejecting anyone that doesn't agree with you. (It is an overlooked point that sola scriptura doesn't appear in Luther's thought until after his condemnation at the Diet of Worms -- if the ecclesial authorities would have agreed with him, SS would have never developed.)

You appear to have given this subject some thought. :)

I wouldn't mind having some quotes, and I can't find where you gave me the info about the book, so could you give me that again?

I have no doubt that there were many influences on Luther and Calvin and their followers. All Christian groups have many different influences, for good or ill. The more we can get back to learning Scripture within the local church, and also to learn from one another in humility and love, since none of us is free from error, the closer we will get to unity in Truth.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie

His righteousness is NOT a veil, but is our clothing to cover our nakedness (the shame that we have because of sin).

Here again is the other half of my original problem. I suffer from severe depression. I have no interest in being "covered" "clothed" "imputed" with alien righteousness because that does not deliver me, or anyone from the pain of depression. A depressed person suffers from being "cut off", excluded, removed, and unhappy.

Imputed justification is exactly like being painted as a happy smiling clown but being sad on the inside. You are a sad sorry sinner dressed in clown makeup.

What is in the way? The clown makeup of course. What is in the way? The imputed righteousness of course. Salvation is having nothing in the way between me and the Father. Given that imputed righteousness is neither me nor God, it stands in the way between me and the Father -- He knows not me, only the happy painted clown that He drew over my crying face.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie

On C2C I already have show how in Romans 4 we cannot understand the that Abraham was reckoned righteous as Abraham having a state of being justified unto salvation. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/05/imputation-and-infusion-a-reply-to-r-c-sproul-jr/#comment-18408 Put simply, the reckoned righteousness of Abraham does not justify unto salvation because if it did, then Christ would not be necessary and the Jews would be correct that it was holding to the faith of Abraham that brought salvation, not in believing in Christ.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie



More than just some thought. I was after all at one time not a Catholic and one of my personal interests is comparative religion and the psychology of belief.



What does getting back to scripture look like? We have early Christian writings that tell us how they used the scriptures -- it is not reading the scriptures in a vacuum. To truly get back to reading the scriptures we need to get back to the People of God. The scriptures were never intended to be read with just a dictionary.



Here is Horton for God sees Christ not the sinner Let me here cite Michael Horton's (Reformed) book "Putting Amazing Back into Grace" because he has a nice drawing in it which he uses to explain what justification is http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_uPwX9jHz7O0/TJCoyDz41UI/AAAAAAAAAnU/uxzskFvYo2g/s1600/SimulIustusEtPeccator.jpg


When it comes to other quotes on that God sees not the sinner only the righteousness of Christ, google searcing with quotes



"sees only His Son"



pulls up a bunch of Protestants using that language that God sees only the Son and not the individual.



http://books.google.com/books?id=ZjsaHbBUalwC&lpg=PA119&dq=%22alien%20righteousness%20of%20christ%22&pg=PA119#v=onepage&q&f=false



(scroll back up to page 119) This is a more scholarly book writing by a Protestant historian. Notice how the language that is uses is that from the point of view of God, what is seen is the outward imputed righteousness not the inward sinner. (also do note that the whole imputed justification thingy doesn't exist in Christian thought until Luther and it is a break from not a development of past theology).

Jennie said...

Anonymous,
I understand some of what you say about depression, though yours must be worse than mine. Bear with me, as I have some passages about being clothed with righteousness. Remember that there are many analogies used in scripture to describe our need for God and salvation. Nakedness is only one way that sinfulness is described. Jesus healed many while on earth of different infirmities, and they all can symbolize our sins and weaknesses, which He truly heals, not just covers up: nakedness, blindness, deafness, lameness, possession, death, and many more. Also the sinners are described as imprisoned and poor and thirsty and hungry. Jesus is the answer for all of these. He is the healer, the water, the bread, the One who sets the captives free. And in one of the passages, the robes of righteousness are also bridal robes, as He is our Bridegroom. These are all pictures that describe the indescribable.
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Revelation 3:17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Jennie said...

And remember that this nakedness is spiritual nakedness which brings shame from sin, so when it is clothed, you are truly and profoundly clothed. It means you ARE righteous and clean, just like the white robes of the saints before the throne of God symbolize being truly washed clean; and like the white dress of the bride symbolizes her true purity.

Christine said...

I am finding this discussion so interesting. I think there is fundamental agreement here - all of us finding the Reformed imputation view to be incompatible with the loving God we know from Scripture and relationship.

Anon, don't ever think that because you are not married your analogies are lacking - my goodness, they are profound. And the deep depression from which you suffer gives insight into the degree of offensiveness and alienation that the penal imputation model provides. Thank you.

I have long been deeply moved by the Theology of the Body, and Humanae Vitae, and all such. Jennie, because you and I both have chosen to be open to life, have a large family, and cherish our marriages, I know that you innately and through prayer and God-seeking also find great meaning in these things. If you have not checked out TOB (as aficionados refer to Theology of the Body), I highly recommend it. I know it will be something you take to instantly.

I don't say that because it comes out of Catholic thought - I'm not trying to do that, Jennie, but just to share something that is beautiful and that I feel you instinctively have been living out.

Sorry for the segue; Anon's explanations made me think of all this. Back to garments/clothing!

Jennie said...

Thanks Christine, I'll check out the TOB; it sounds interesting.

To both Christine and Anonymous,
I've been wondering alot lately about how we're all going to be really surprised when we pass on and find out what was really important to God and what wasn't. Like having all our doctrine perfectly explained (even though by trying to explain it so carefully we're actually killing it in the process; we have to have the Spirit and not just get the letters and words right). The Reformed are very good at some things, but they get so concerned about knowing the right stuff in the right order that they might forget the love and grace that's behind it and that supercedes the words and knowledge. I don't know if that makes any sense, but I think we're all going to be surprised when we get to heaven.

Jennie said...

On C2C I already have show how in Romans 4 we cannot understand the that Abraham was reckoned righteous as Abraham having a state of being justified unto salvation. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/05/imputation-and-infusion-a-reply-to-r-c-sproul-jr/#comment-18408 Put simply, the reckoned righteousness of Abraham does not justify unto salvation because if it did, then Christ would not be necessary and the Jews would be correct that it was holding to the faith of Abraham that brought salvation, not in believing in Christ.

Anonymous,
Abraham was justified by faith during his time, before Christ and looking forward to Christ's sacrifice, just as we are justified by faith now looking back on Christ's sacrifice. Abraham had God's promises and trusted in Him, even though he couldn't see everything yet as we can see now. And we can't see everything yet that will be revealed. My husband has some studies on Abraham that might help. I'm trying to find one that talks about this specifically, and if I do I'll post it.

http://www.exchangedlife.com/Sermons/gen/walking_blameless.shtml

http://www.exchangedlife.com/Sermons/gen/gen12_Gods_call.shtml

Jennie said...

because if it did, then Christ would not be necessary and the Jews would be correct that it was holding to the faith of Abraham that brought salvation, not in believing in Christ.

Abraham walked in the light he was given, by faith, and was justified. The Jews who rejected Christ did not walk by the light they were given when He appeared to them, and they were condemned. They are judged based on the time they lived in and their response either of faith or of rebellion. They rebelled and were judged. We have to walk by the light that we are given in our day as well and are accountable for that.

Jennie said...

What does getting back to scripture look like? We have early Christian writings that tell us how they used the scriptures -- it is not reading the scriptures in a vacuum. To truly get back to reading the scriptures we need to get back to the People of God. The scriptures were never intended to be read with just a dictionary.

And I didn't say the scriptures should be read in a vacuum. I said we should study them within the local church body, where the Holy Spirit is, and where Christ's presence is when we gather. Churches do get things wrong when too many outside influences are allowed in, but when we're listening to the word, the Spirit and one another, we move in the right direction. The gifts and fruits of the Spirit will be manifested to lift up the body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

Please keep in mind that scripture says that Abraham was reckoned righteous, not that he was justified unto salvation. Jews are the people of the promise -- they have the promise that they will be saved not that they are now saved. Abraham's faith is not sufficient for salvation, though it was reckoned and stood until that which was sufficient for salvation came -- the Messiah Jesus the Christ. It is an important point that those that died prior to Christ did not enter into heaven but the righteous dead went to Sheol or Abraham's Bosom. As Abraham did not enter into heaven until after Christ, we cannot say that his faith was the formal cause for his eschatological justification. Or put it another way, the Faith of Abraham was not sufficient for salvation.



The Jewish position against Paul was that the Jews were "righteous", and thus "saved", because 1.) They had the law of Moses 2.) They had the faith of Abraham. Paul is arguing that these two things are not sufficient for eschatological salvation but rather Christ alone is. Romans 1-4 is a tear down of the Jewish position. Romans 5-8 is a presentation of the Christian position. Romans 9-11 is how the problem of those who hold to the Jewish position will be solved since the Jewish position contains a covenantal promise of Israel's salvation regardless of Israel's faithfulness. Romans 12-ff is about the living out of the Christian life.

Paul takes down the Jewish position by showing that it is not having the law of Moses that brings righteousness but it is the doing of it by showing that some of Gentiles, who do not have the written Law are able to keep it because it written upon their hearts, but even though they have this righteousness it is still not sufficient and falls short. Then Paul shows how the faith of Abraham is more important than the law of Moses because the faith of Abraham allows for one to be reckoned righteous even when they trespass the law (or don't have the oral law)....ie one can be reckoned righteous even if they fail at living a perfectly moral life, but even this Paul says is insufficient for salvation because it is only the righteousness of Christ, which actually makes an individual righteous, that is sufficient for salvation.

If you are following the argument in Romans, you will notice that Romans 5 starts off with talking about how belief in Jesus is reckoned as an individual's righteousness, but this is not sufficient for salvation. Paul then in Romans 6 states what is sufficient for salvation -- our baptism into Christ and our following participation in the life of Christ. Notice how the language switches from the pre-baptized being reckoned righteous to the baptized actually being and being made righteous. Notice for Paul that he believes in progressive and ongoing justification but that the point of initial justification is baptism when one switches from the reckoned righteousness of Abraham and/or the insufficient righteousness of the Law to the made righteousness of Christ which is sufficent for salvation.

This matches what Jesus in Mark 16:16 says that Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Belief is insufficient but baptism is.

If we are following Romans and wish to talk about reckoned righteousness, while we can say that being reckoned righteous is true, it is not equivalent to being righteous -- which is found through baptism and participation in the life of Christ as Paul details from 6 onward.

Jennie said...

Anonymous,
I believe you have misunderstood and therefore misrepresented the message of Romans. One thing: you said "you will notice that Romans 5 starts off with talking about how belief in Jesus is reckoned as an individual's righteousness, but this is not sufficient for salvation" and "that the point of initial justification is baptism".

However, Paul never says that belief in Jesus is not sufficient for salvation. Right at the beginning of chapter 5 Paul states Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul directly states that it IS by faith in Christ that we are initially justified. There are many passages of Scripture that state this.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

In the gospels, when Jesus heals people, He repeatedly says "Your faith has healed you".

God's gracious gift is given through faith. Then faith continues in obedience to baptism, which is our first act of faith. Peter calls baptism "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (1 Peter 3:21). A person can't have a good conscience toward God until he is made right by faith. Baptism is our confirmation in the new life of faith, new life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie



No no, I have it right. Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith... What is this faith? It is the faith of Abraham. We know that because Paul just said that in Romans 4:23 It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord What is it? The Righteousness of Abraham. Who reckons it? The Father. Where does it come from? Faith in the promises of the Father.



In Romans 5:11 we see For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Here we see the movement from the reckoned righteousness of Abraham (belief in the promises of God) to the actual righteousness of being saved by Christ's life (found by baptism and the living out of the Christian life).



In Romans 5:11b we see Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. Is belief in Jesus the "grace in which we stand"? No. Why? Because as Paul says thus belief, faith, is necessary for salvation, but it is not equivalent and/or sufficient for salvation because it accesses but is equivalent to "the grace in which we stand".



Again notice how Romans 5:11 says that we are saved by his life, not that we are saved by our belief. Thus belief or faith is not sufficient but rather it leads to that which is sufficient for salvation -- participation in the life of Christ which is gained by baptism and participation in the common life of the Church which Paul details in 6-9 and then in more detail in 12-ff.



One of the big reasons why we know that faith, that is belief in the promises of God, is not sufficient for salvation is because children cannot have belief because they lack the cognitive ability to hold thoughts about things in their minds. Yet we say that a child, even a child who dies in the womb, may be saved. We can say that they may be saved, even though they lack belief, because belief is not sufficient.



If we turn to Acts 2 we see Peter preaching before a group of Jews -- who have the righteousness of Abraham and the righteousness of the Law. They are though not saved for they say "What must we do [to have true justification]?" Acts 2:37. The reply is 1. Repent 2. Be baptized 3. Recieve the Holy Spirit. Look at what baptism does -- it forgives sins and it brings about the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Faith is acting as a gateway but is not actually justification or salvation -- that is found in baptism which according to Acts is for (that is the cause of) the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit.



You quoted Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith Notice that Paul says "through faith" not "by faith", rather Paul says "by grace you are saved". It is grace that is initial justification, not faith (we know from Romans 6 that this grace is recieved through baptism and living the life of Christ). Faith, belief in the promises of God is what brings you to that by which you are justified -- baptism and the common life of Christ found in the Church. (Salvation by grace through faith which worketh in love as Paul and Augustine teach).

Anonymous said...

continued from above

To back this up let us go back to John 3 and Nicodemus who visits Jesus. In this discussion the implicit question of Nicodemus is "How does one receive this life that you have been preaching?" Jesus' answer is not "by having Faith" but rather "By being born anew of the water and Spirit". Belief leads one to being born anew. We can also see this again in Mark 16:13 where Jesus says "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved..." Thus again we see belief as something which leads to that which is sufficient. One who refuses to believe cannot be saved because the one who refuses to believe refuses baptism and because baptism is that which is sufficient, the one who refuses cannot be saved.



James 2:19 is a good proof that faith/belief is not sufficient for salvation for the devils also believe, and tremble The devils have belief/faith but they are not saved because faith is not sufficient. If it was sufficient they would be saved as well.

Jennie said...

Anonymous,
I've discussed this subject of justification by faith quite a bit here, and I'm reluctant to go through it again, but I'll try.

I suggest that you read Galatians, especially the second part of chapter 2 and then chapter 3, where it says:
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

and:
This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.


These passages directly say that we are JUSTIFIED by faith in Christ and we receive the Spirit by the hearing of faith. It is a hard subject if we make it so, but it is simple if we remember that God didn't reduce salvation to a formula that we should go through step by step. It happens by faith and the Spirit and it can be different for each person, as long as it includes faith in Christ and repentance of sin, and produces new life and the evidence of a holy life as James brings out. Baptism is vital, but if someone has faith and not baptism they can be saved. If someone has baptism and no faith, they are not saved.

Jennie said...

Here's a post I did a while back with some links to studies Eddie did on justification by faith:
http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2010/08/some-links-on-justification-salvation.html

Jennie said...

In Romans 5:11 we see For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Here we see the movement from the reckoned righteousness of Abraham (belief in the promises of God) to the actual righteousness of being saved by Christ's life (found by baptism and the living out of the Christian life).

Anon,
when it says "we see For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son", that is speaking of justification. We are reconciled to God, or made right with God, or justified, by faith (and by grace through faith) in the death of God's Son. THEN we are also saved by Christ's life, which comes through the Holy Spirit and regeneration. Baptism is our first act of faith and obedience in this new life, and it is witness to the death of our old self, being crucified with Christ, and the new life of the Spirit, which comes from Christ's resurrection. The faith is the key, because it is our response of submission and acceptance of God's gift and also of continuation in the walk with God. The just (one who has already been justified by faith) shall live by faith. That's what James is talking about. The one who is just will walk by faith and do good works. That is the proof of his justification.

Jennie said...

James 2:19 is a good proof that faith/belief is not sufficient for salvation for the devils also believe, and tremble The devils have belief/faith but they are not saved because faith is not sufficient. If it was sufficient they would be saved as well.

The devils believe in that they know that God exists and that Christ has died and risen. They don't believe in the sense of having faith and trusting in Christ. They are not able. There are people that 'believe in God' but it makes no change in them, because they don't have faith, which produces repentance and brings the Holy Spirit and a changed life. James doesn't want us to 'believe' in that way, but to have true faith that brings a changed life. This faith is a gift of God.

Jennie said...

To back this up let us go back to John 3 and Nicodemus who visits Jesus. In this discussion the implicit question of Nicodemus is "How does one receive this life that you have been preaching?" Jesus' answer is not "by having Faith" but rather "By being born anew of the water and Spirit". Belief leads one to being born anew. We can also see this again in Mark 16:13 where Jesus says "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved..." Thus again we see belief as something which leads to that which is sufficient. One who refuses to believe cannot be saved because the one who refuses to believe refuses baptism and because baptism is that which is sufficient, the one who refuses cannot be saved.

Anon,
I believe in John 3 Jesus is speaking of the whole process of 'being born again', which of course begins by faith, and then continues by faith. In the famous verse John 3:16 it says "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Faith is the beginning and the key, on our part, and it continues in baptism and a new life as part of the Body of Christ. That is the evidence of it. In an earlier comment, I mentioned Galatians 3 where it says 'you received the Spirit by the hearing of faith.' The process is not a cut and dried formula, but faith brings the renewal of the Spirit, whether it comes immediately upon faith, or upon Baptism, it is because of faith by God's grace that it comes, because baptism without faith means nothing.
One other thing, I think both the Baptists and the Catholics have it wrong to not baptize believers immediately, as they did in Scipture. Catholics, because if it is necessary for salvation, why wait? Baptists because they often insist that the person be baptized to become a member of a specific church, and then some actually have the audacity to have the members vote, by saying 'who moves to accept this person as a member' and 'who seconds the motion' as if it it was a business decision. All don't do that, of course. We don't.

I understand that both probably want to 'be sure' of the person's faith, but maybe that's part of the problem.

Leo said...

Okay, may I add something here? Think of it this way.
1. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One.
2. The Word humbled Himself to share in our humanity and we now know Him as Jesus Christ.
3. He maintains full Divinity and full humanity for all eternity.
4. If we allow it, He will share His Divinity with each of us and this is what perfects us.
5. Think of it as being united to the Trinity.
6. It is the Divinity which drives out sin to the extent that we repent and permit His work in us.
7. It is impossible to enter heaven unless we are perfect, so this must be taken care of either here on earth or prior to our entry to heaven(purgatory).
8. This is the ONLY way that Divinity can fully unite to humanity. His perfection drives out our imperfection.
9. It is His presence in us that makes us righteous.
10. This is what He means when He says that we will become one just as He and the Father are One.

Leo said...

Okay, may I add something here? Think of it this way.
1. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One.
2. The Word humbled Himself to share in our humanity and we now know Him as Jesus Christ.
3. He maintains full Divinity and full humanity for all eternity.
4. If we allow it, He will share His Divinity with each of us and this is what perfects us.
5. Think of it as being united to the Trinity.
6. It is the Divinity which drives out sin to the extent that we repent and permit His work in us.
7. It is impossible to enter heaven unless we are perfect, so this must be taken care of either here on earth or prior to our entry to heaven(purgatory).
8. This is the ONLY way that Divinity can fully unite to humanity. His perfection drives out our imperfection.
9. It is His presence in us that makes us righteous by transforming us
.
10. This is what He means when He says that we will become one just as He and the Father are One.

Leo said...

Jennie, to your last comment, note that "they and their entire households were baptized", indicating that children were included. Baptism is a Sacrament that has power to unite us to God's family by restoring us.

As far as timing, it is important to learn the Faith as an adult prior to receiving the Sacrament, so as not to bring judgment on oneself afterwards.

There is also baptism by desire, so there is no danger of someone dying before they are baptized if they were in the catechetical process. This is what the good thief on the cross received.

In other words, had he been given the chance, he would have gone on and been baptized. God does not let mere protocol get in the way.

Jennie said...

Leo,
I think I can agree with your 10 things, except for the purgatory thing (no I don't want to discuss purgatory here :)).
I think some sticklers would want to ask you some questions to clarify what you specifically mean by some of the things, but I'm not going to. I think we can agree on those things, with that one exception.

On the baptism thing, I always have assumed that 'their entire household' meant that all those who were old enough to understand had also accepted Christ on the witness of the first one, and so were baptized. Now, it doesn't say that, but in the gospels it also doesn't count the women and children when it says about 5000 were fed by Christ; but we know they were. So it could go either way. I'm just saying.

Jennie said...

I just used the word 'thing' five times in 4 sentences. Gotta watch that.

Leo said...

Well, the thing is...;-)

It does say 'entire' households and that word is quite specific. Jesus always let the little children come to Him. Remember that circumcision was for shortly after birth

As to point #7, and I am not trying to start a discussion either, purgatory is only defined as the final purification to make us perfect and ready to enter heaven. There is no definition as to timeframe or what takes place.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie,

I don't want you to take this the wrong way but as you have pulled in your husband's writings and exegesis of scripture a few times as an authority to backup your position, I thought it would be a good idea to ask you why I should accept that that he is an authority on how to interpret scripture? In your writing you have shown a deep concern over "traditions of men", and as you are citing your husband as an authority I think it is fair to ask, "Who does he speak for and by what authority does he speak?"

One of the big problems with your exegesis of Galatians is that you are overlooking the fact that God does actually "reduce salvation to a formula". That is the whole point of the covenantal promises in scripture, and throughout the OT, the author's describe God as being furious at Israel for not sticking to the covenantal formula and trying to achieve salvation by means other than the "formula". God promises that He will save us by Him doing X. What happens when a person detaches God's promise from His promised covenantal action, like you are doing, is that one renders the entire enterprise of the Christian religion entirely relativistic, unverifiable, and without meaning.

You said "It happens by faith and the Spirit and it can be different for each person,....". Unfortunately that is not what scripture says. Salvation is not some nebulous event that is different for each person, but rather it is very specifically, as Acts 2:38 states "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". That is quite clear that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Your average individual has a hellish time with belief, trust, and faith in God. Doubt is a very powerful thing and I submit to you that tangible visible actual covenantal formula are a much more secure anchor for your average person in helping them to maintain their relationship with God, especially at times during their lives when God seems very distant (such as depression).

Jennie said...

I thought it would be a good idea to ask you why I should accept that that he is an authority on how to interpret scripture? In your writing you have shown a deep concern over "traditions of men", and as you are citing your husband as an authority I think it is fair to ask, "Who does he speak for and by what authority does he speak?"

Anonymous,
The reason I cite my husband's studies is to give a viewpoint that you might not have seen, and because his studies have helped me to understand these subjects. I believe he has been gifted by God to teach, as scripture says that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to each to edify the Body of Christ. I don't expect you to consider him an 'authority' so much as a fellow believer who has a gift you might benefit from. I don't think of authority in the same way that Catholics do.

Jennie said...

One of the big problems with your exegesis of Galatians is that you are overlooking the fact that God does actually "reduce salvation to a formula". That is the whole point of the covenantal promises in scripture, and throughout the OT, the author's describe God as being furious at Israel for not sticking to the covenantal formula and trying to achieve salvation by means other than the "formula". God promises that He will save us by Him doing X. What happens when a person detaches God's promise from His promised covenantal action, like you are doing, is that one renders the entire enterprise of the Christian religion entirely relativistic, unverifiable, and without meaning.

Anonymous,
by saying that God didn't reduce salvation to a formula in Scripture, I didn't mean that He didn't give specific instructions for us and specific things that need to happen. All the elements need to be there, but not necessarily in a certain order or time. The Holy Spirit works in individuals in different ways, as we can see in the lives of people around us, or that we have read or heard about. I mean that the Holy Spirit is not limited by our understanding of Scripture or by our institutionalized rules about what is supposed to happen.

Jennie said...

You said "It happens by faith and the Spirit and it can be different for each person,....". Unfortunately that is not what scripture says. Salvation is not some nebulous event that is different for each person, but rather it is very specifically, as Acts 2:38 states "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". That is quite clear that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
If all those things are present, including faith, then salvation occurs. Yet, as Leo said, God works with us if baptism is intended but not performed in time. And always, faith is the key to action.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie,

I don't want to get too far away from imputed vs. infused justifcation so let me shorten things up a bit.

Belief that Jesus died and rose for the salvation of men is not sufficient for salvation. This is not even actually Luther's sola fide. For Luther, salvation begins at baptism (just as it is for Catholics and Orthodox. For Calvinists what is sufficient is the imputation). For Luther, the beginning of new life (as Paul states in Romans 6) is not the moment of first accepting the Gospel but rather the moment of baptism. The acceptance of the Gospel prepares one to move towards baptism and baptism is the beginning of the new life in Christ.

Our know-it-alls, the new spirits, assert that faith alone saves and that works and external things contribute nothing to this end. … But these leaders of the blind are unwilling to see that faith must have something to believe—something to which it may cling and upon which it may stand [the promise of salvation in baptism]. Thus faith clings to the water and believes it to be Baptism in which there is sheer salvation and life, not through the water, as we have sufficiently stated, but through its incorporation with God’s Word and ordinance and the joining of his name to it. … Now these people are so foolish as to separate faith from the object to which faith is attached and bound on the ground that the object is something external. … We have here the words, ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved.’ To what do they refer but to Baptism, that is, the water comprehended in God’s ordinance? Book of Concord 440

It is really important to see that in scripture baptism is not our act but rather it is God's act that is done to us. Because it is God's act, not ours, it cannot be, as you said "our first act of faith and obedience in this new life". Your position is kinda like saying that your first act in life was your own conception. We are not baptized to show that we have been saved but rather baptism is what now saves us. 1 Peter 3:21 (supported by Romans 6). Again in Romans there is a transition from the reckoned righteousness of the faith in the promises of God to the actual being saved that occurs in baptism and in the following new life of the Christian.

Being technical an individual who believes in Christ and is being instructed in the Christian faith is not a Christian but a catechumen.

But I want to get back to imputation vs. infusion and not dwell too long here on baptism (though it is important it is not the point of the thread)

Jennie said...

Belief that Jesus died and rose for the salvation of men is not sufficient for salvation
I agree. There are different kinds of belief. There is a belief that brings salvation and a belief that doesn't. A person can believe in their mind that Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again, but not actually believe that they are a sinner who needs to call on the name of God to be saved through that sacrifice.

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”(that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Anonymous said...

@ Leo



Nice to see you joining the thread. I don't know if you are Catholic or not, but for Catholics, it is not "9. It is His presence in us that makes us righteous." This still would be alien imputed righteousness not infused righteousness. Even though you are using the term "in us" it is important not to see salvation as having a pot of water (us) and then putting a cup of oil in it (Christ righteousness). Rather the indwelling of the Spirit occurs within a justified soul. Otherwise what is occurring is that man's nature is subsumed by the divine rather than being elevated to participate in the life of God. The indwelling of God is not the same thing as the infusion of sanctifying grace. cf. Trent 6th session chapter 7. Theosis / synergism requires real and true participation of the human nature and human person -- its participation cannot be dependent upon external qualities that are transferred to it -- rather there must be internal chance, that is to say at the level of being and nature and ontology rather than external to

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

I am not a cessationist by any stretch of the imagination so saying that you are citing your husband because he has a gift from the Holy Spirit is a pretty serious claim for me. I was curious as to why you kept citing him as an authority to back your position and now I know. Thanks.

I mean that the Holy Spirit is not limited by our understanding of Scripture or by our institutionalized rules about what is supposed to happen.

Problem being again that God has established covenants which do dictate how to go about doing thing or having things done. Scripture is pretty clear that an individual has not put on Christ, has not begun to live the Christian life until they have been baptized. That God can do things out of order doesn't mean that we can do things out of order. The covenants are the normative means by which God saves us. If we think we can save ourselves by doing things "non-covenantally" then we are doing just that -- trying to save ourselves instead of relying upon God.

And always, faith is the key to action.

Not always as is in the case of infants as I previously mentioned as they cannot cognitively hold "Jesus died and rose for me" in their minds. What Leo is mentioning is "Baptism of Desire". This is not faith and you are misunderstanding Leo if you are thinking that he is saying that faith without "Baptism of Desire" is sufficient for salvation. It is the "Baptism of Desire" that saves not the prior belief in God. The key to salvation is not man's movement but rather God's. The whole belief in the promises of God / reckoned righteousness of Abraham is what prepares and moves the individual forward in anticipation of God's saving action. It is equivalent to the parables that Jesus told of the bride awaiting the coming of the bridegroom throughout the night. Faith in the promises of the bridegroom is what keeps the bride awake, what made the bride make sure she had enough oil for her lamp. The bridegroom comes at his own time, her waiting doesn't make him come. Scripture tells us that the moment the bridegroom arrives is the moment of baptism.

Jennie said...

The key to salvation is not man's movement but rather God's.

In the gospels, the faith of a man in Christ was always the key to His action in healing them. And then, in the case of salvation, baptism is an action on our part, brought about by faith and done in obedience to God's command. Faith produces obedience. I agree that salvation is God's action: God's grace (undeserved favor) opens our eyes and gives us faith. We reach to Him in trust, repenting and submitting to the gospel. His Spirit comes to live in us and makes us new. His love lives in us and allows us to love and obey Him by continued faith, so we obey his command to be baptized. If faith is the key to God's action in us because of His love for us, Love and faith are the key to our continued action or obedience to His commands.
I think in a way Leo is right that God's presence in us is what makes us righteous. His love makes us love Him in return His presence in us means His love is always with us and in us, and produces love in us, and causes love to flow from us to Him and to others. That is our righteousness. Faith and love are connected, but 'the greatest of these is love'. And the plan of God was always to create a people that 'love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself'.

Jennie said...

Your average individual has a hellish time with belief, trust, and faith in God. Doubt is a very powerful thing and I submit to you that tangible visible actual covenantal formula are a much more secure anchor for your average person in helping them to maintain their relationship with God, especially at times during their lives when God seems very distant (such as depression).

Yes, I can understand that. God gives us tangible things, such as the Lord's Supper and Baptism, and the Scriptures, to hold onto. He gives us the body of Christ, which is the church (fellow believers with various gifts and offices to uplift us). The Eucharist (which Leo wouldn't agree that I participate in in my Baptist church, but I believe I do) is the tangible participation in the body of Christ. To me it is a remembrance by faith of the oneness of Christ and the church, which brings us together to celebrate the same, and to remember His death until He comes. It's much more than that also. More than I can express.

Leo said...

Anonymous,

First of all, I am sorry that you have no onymous. Did you not at least take on a Confirmation name? Or do you have an ominous onymous?

Sorry, but my morning has been hectic and my sense of humor gets twisted when under stress...all in good clean fun...thanks for the welcome.

When I commented that His presence in us transforms us, I meant to imply that we must allow that to take place. Unlike your water to oil analogy, we must become like water allowing the Gatorade powder to turn us into Gatorade.

Of course, we must cooperate. For, though He created us without our permission, He will not save us without our cooperation.

The tendency is to make the Faith far more complex than it needs to be. The fact that He shares His Divinity with us is awesome beyond belief and yes, we call that sanctifying grace.

Those who have seen visions of hell heard the souls say that if even one of them could perform an act of love for another, it would no longer be hell.

Since God is love, and He is not in hell, there can be no love there. And, when He is in us, that is the only way that we can do loving things. To your point, however, if we maintain an oil/water relationship, He will ultimately separate Himself from us for all eternity and we will no longer be able to perform any selfless act. We must be transformed by His presence and become one with Him.

Anonymous said...

@Leo

It Anonymous for these postings b/c I posted Anonymous at C2C talking about a very serious topic -- depression. I don't want to have the topic linked to who I am in real life as certain things go over well as people generally have a hard time coping with leaders/teachers/preachers/professors/official/priests/nuns/monks etc. having psychological problems. We are all broken people but people assume that doctors are not supposed to get cancer and that your spiritual doctors are not supposed to struggle with depression.

Hypothetically of course how would you deal with knowing that your priest struggles with thoughts of ending his life?

to your comments...

Your humor is appreciated of course.

Just be careful...santifying grace is not the same thing as the indwelling of God.

Nice allusion to Augustine by the way The God who created thee without thee will not save thee without thee Sermo 169, 13 (PL 38,923).

The mystics are very useful in understanding what lies beyond this vail. Glad you have picked up on that.

Is there really no love in Hell? A soul does not exist independently as its own principle but must always be sustained by God in existance. A soul in hell is sustained. Perhaps that is what makes hell so horrible, the soul loaths God and yet knows that it God who sustains it. Thus the soul in hell hates that which it desires and needs.

I think that faith is made complex by people because it is a word that in english has multiple meanings and there is a tendancy to conflate belief and trust with faith. But yes, people tend to make biblical concepts more complex than they need to be. One of the reasons why I like being Catholic is that the faith is easy and straight forward but at the same time very very deep.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

You said: baptism is an action on our part

But it is not. Surely an infant doesn't baptize itself. Does an adult baptize itself? No, rather an adult at the most submits to baptism. If you look at the very early baptismal liturgies, it is very very clear that baptism is not an action on our part but rather an action that is done by God independently of our action.

For example we have this very early baptismal liturgy Lord, you give joy to your city with your floods of grace and you open the font of baptism to the entire world so that the pagan nations may be reborn in it. Look upon the face of your Church and multiply your children within her. By your magistic power may the Church receive from the Holy Spirit the grace of your only-begotten Son. May this Spirit make fruitful the water prepared for the rebirth of human beings by mingling with it the mysterious power of his light. Roman Prayer Ge nos. 444-448; Gr nos. 373-74

If we look at the baptismal liturgies no matter if they come from the West or the East or Egypt or Africa or the Middle East that the individual baptised is not doing any action but rather that baptism is an action of the Holy Spirit.

You said: In the gospels, the faith of a man in Christ was always the key to His action in healing them Not always. John 8, the Pericope of the Adulturess for example. John 5 the Man at the Pool of Bethzatha as another example. Both of these individual are healed without specific faith in Christ.

Now faith is not the key to God's action in us, and this can be directly proven by scripture 2 Tim 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful --
for he cannot deny himself.
This shows that our having faith is not the key to God's action -- even when we are unfaithful God acts to try to save us. God's salvific action is not dependent upon man's faith. God's upholding His end of the covenants is not dependent upon man's upholding his.

Leo said...

Anonymous,

No need for an explanation...I was not requesting your real name by any stretch and I do understand your situation so please take no offense. Jennie can vouch for my sometimes irreverent(or should I say irreverend in this case) sense of humor. I was just surprised that you did not choose a screen name of sorts.

Anyway, thanks for your observation about my reference to indwelling, as I did not make myself clear. It is indeed different from sanctifying grace. We can resist the latter and then God will separate His Spirit from ours for eternity. Of course, there are reported cases where He removed His indwelling as well. One such was Aaron Burr. Those who knew him well, said that he was often troubled by the constant conviction of the Holy Spirit. He told God to remove His Spirit, to leave him alone and that in return he would leave God alone. In essence, he asked God to forever part company with him. It is said that from that instant on, he was like a walking dead man for the rest of his earthly life. It was as if he had no life in him and no joy.

Leo said...

Anonymous,

Regarding hell, please allow me to offer the following:

1. Just because God sustains something, does not mean that His love is within it. Think about a rock.

2. Just as heaven is participation in the life of the Trinity, so too is hell the complete separation from God.

3. The Sacraments are the ordinary means of obtaining sanctifying grace, just as doctors and medicine are the ordinary means of obtaining physical healing.

4. You are correct that we do not administer the Sacraments to ourselves, but rather, we receive them. Even the Holy Father cannot forgive his own sins; he must go to a confessor.

5. It is the Eucharist which is vital to our Catholic Faith. This is the ordinary means by which He assimilates us into Himself. If we are in a state of grace, this Sacrament is transformative and is again not of our own doing. However, we must attend Mass and receive.

6. I think it is too easy to get into confusing discussions about what imputation means, etc., so I prefer to refer to sharing in the Divine life.

7. The key is obedience and surrender, as I have found in my own life. At one time, I could hold on one hand what the Church taught, and on the other hand, what I believed. It took a while for me to realize that, whereever there was a disagreement, it was I who was separated from Truth.

Funny how that works...where bishops and priests believe and teach all that is handed down and they have a reverence for the Holy Father and Blessed Mother, there is no shortage of vocations or vibrant congregations.

Where there is refusal to accept teachings such as on contraception, there is little faith as well...

Jennie said...

No, rather an adult at the most submits to baptism.

I think we're just seeing different aspects of the same thing. I agree that baptism is a submission, just as our initial response to the gospel in faith is submission. But we must either go or not go, submit or not submit to it, obey or not obey. So the obedience is our response by faith to God. 1 Peter 3:21 says "There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ". So it is a submission and an answer to God's action in us, which brings God's continued action in us. I do agree that baptism is an action of the Holy Spirit, sometimes independent of the actual water baptism, and sometimes together with it. But the water baptism is our necessary answer of a good conscience. In other words, it is our proper response(?). This is just my way of trying to think things through and understand them, so I may be wrong, or we both may be right in a way. I agree with you pretty well.
My husband (surprise!) did a study on prededstination that looked at submission as our response to the gospel. He was partly responding to the Calvinist understanding that everything is done by God, so they object to saying that we do any action as part of salvation. Eddie wrote that our response is to submit to God, which is not a work, but is our proper response to Him. We can also rebel against the gospel, which IS an act of our will. Submission is, on the other hand, a laying down of our will and an acceptance of God's will.

Jennie said...

Anon,
I had to go look up Pericope. I'll remember that now. Very good word.

Jennie said...

As both you and Leo said or implied, Baptism is like going to the doctor. You go to have something done to you, but you do have to GO in order to have it done.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

1 Peter 3:21

Take a moment to look up the term antitype in a good philosophical dictionary.

Peter is saying that baptism is the antitype that now saves us. What does that mean? What he is saying is that those Old Testament events and promises of God that foreshadowed and foretold God's justification of man find their realization in baptism. Baptism is the reality of those things and is what "now saves us".

According to the grammar of the sentence and the definition of the words used, it is not at all correct to say baptism is "our answer". Rather baptism is God's answer to His own promises and covenants -- it is the antitype. Baptism can also be said to be God's answer to our appeal of forgiveness. In Greek and Latin the term is not "appeal" but rather closer to inquiry -- showing the depth of the term, the ancient baptismal liturgies the individual who is seeking baptism both appeals to God for "the laver of rebirth" and is inquired by the Church, the Body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

Submission is, on the other hand, a laying down of our will and an acceptance of God's will.

True, but it is equally important that it is not God's will that we become extensions of the Divine Will or marionettes. Grace doesn't destroy nature or void nature or subsume nature -- it allows nature to participate in the Divine Nature without confusion subsumming or destroying.

Don't remember if I mentioned it here or elsewhere but I have met more than a few Protestant women of the quite hard core Reformed / evangelical stripe that are screwed up because they think submission, especially in terms of submission to one's husband, means completely loosing oneself and letting one's husband completely subsume one's will. God doesn't call us into a "Jump." "How high?" type of relationship, He calls us to participate and co-operate in love.


One of the more fascinating things that I have found (and I would love to some day to an intensive study) is how a very strict imputed justification view causes a very master/slave relationship between a husband and wife to be the ideal (have you heard of "every man for Christ and every woman for her man" as if a woman's husband is her means of salvation before God?) whereas the Catholic infused justification causes a very different type of relationship between husband and wife. Jane Austen was after all writing against the Anglican-Reformed view of marriage, not the Catholic.

Certain types of Protestant wives: Stop treating your husband as a Ba'al god! Its not cool as you are not helping your husband to be Christ to you. Your man is not your master he is the one who lays down his life for your sake.

Jennie said...

Peter is saying that baptism is the antitype that now saves us. What does that mean? What he is saying is that those Old Testament events and promises of God that foreshadowed and foretold God's justification of man find their realization in baptism. Baptism is the reality of those things and is what "now saves us".

Anonymous,
I'm familiar with the word antitype, as I've been very interested in foreshadowing in Scripture for a while. 1 Peter says 'an antitype', not 'the antitype' however. There are many foreshadows in Scripture, all picturing an aspect of salvation through Christ. I would say that all refer to Christ, and that the new antitypes of baptism and the Eucharist also refer back to Christ. All point to Him as our salvation. Baptism is one aspect of our salvation through Christ, showing the death of our flesh and the resurrection to new life, which will finally include our physical bodies. As I think we both agree, the Spirit is what accomplishes the renewal, not the water or the action.

Jennie said...

True, but it is equally important that it is not God's will that we become extensions of the Divine Will or marionettes. Grace doesn't destroy nature or void nature or subsume nature -- it allows nature to participate in the Divine Nature without confusion subsumming or destroying.

I agree.


Don't remember if I mentioned it here or elsewhere but I have met more than a few Protestant women of the quite hard core Reformed / evangelical stripe that are screwed up because they think submission, especially in terms of submission to one's husband, means completely loosing oneself and letting one's husband completely subsume one's will. God doesn't call us into a "Jump." "How high?" type of relationship, He calls us to participate and co-operate in love.
I don't remember you mentioning that here. That is a danger. Women often struggle with what submission means. I've struggled with it myself. Depression and low self esteem can cause us to act in the way you said, even if our husbands don't expect it. The husband expecting it is, of course another problem. My husband struggled with temper problems, which the Lord showed him how to overcome. That took a toll on me which I'm just now realizing, even though Eddie does so much better now. Depression, which I didn't even think was a problem anymore, kept me from seeing and seeking counsel. I'm pursuing that now to work on anger and bitterness in myself. But submission has never been my strong point. I'm very stubborn, so I have to pray for help on that, and I have to pray for help to remember to pray for help :) But I do agree that God calls us to participate and cooperate in love, and that marriage is a picture of that.

Jennie said...

Anonymous, and to Leo who has been talking to me about the Eucharist,
to continue my personal anecdote:

God has been calling me to stretch myself in so many ways in the last two years. He led me to start a women's prayer group in our church to improve intimacy and unity, showing me that I, the weakest one in reaching out, would be the one to lead. He helped me not to be afraid in that, and then He called me to sing with our worship group to share His love and praise, instead of my fear and silence. The singing and sharing has helped bring me towards healing of my own infirmities, which has included the seeking of counsel. I shared the depression and anger problem in the prayer group and the ladies prayed for me and encouraged me in love. As we each do this, it increases our love, our bond of unity, and our ability to share even more and help each other even more. Christ is there with us as we share and pray. That is the Body of Christ in action. We're one in Him, and that's the Eucharist, and that's what the bread and wine represent. When we take the bread and wine, in faith we show that we are one together with Him, and that we long for the final fulfillment of our oneness when He comes.

Leo said...

Jennie,

Yes, God IS present, but do not elevate yourself to the Eucharist. It is okay to say everything else but not to equate ourselves to God. Remember that the bread and wine in your church remains that and is not what we refer to as the Eucharist

Jennie said...

Leo,
saying that the oneness of the Body of Christ (the Head and the Body united) is the Eucharist is not the same as equating ourselves with God. God is always God and we are not. But we are one Body with Christ as our Head, and we are the Bride that belongs to the Bridegroom. The Eucharist is not God, it is a sacrifice of thanksgiving and a celebration of the body and blood of Christ.

Jennie said...

But let's not argue about it. I just wanted to share my understanding as I've been learning about the church as the body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

You said: The Eucharist is not God

That is why what you do and what we do isn't the same thing, doesn't overlap, and isn't seeing the same thing from different angles.

That there is not a common banquet of the lamb for Catholics and Protestants should be a thorn in the conscience of everyone.

Let me say though that the book of Hebrews is rather clear that Christ Himself is our sacrifice and our final sacrifice such that no additional sacrifices are necessary nor even really allowed. If the sacrifice of the Eucharist is not Jesus then one has surplanted Christ by an additional sacrifice.

But this is getting beyond the discussion of imputed vs. infused.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

You said 1 Peter says 'an antitype', not 'the antitype' however

The "an" doesn't exist in the Greek. The "an" is there because the translator is reading it into it.

In Greek philosophy,you have a set of many types and all these foreshadow, point towards, and, most importantly, participate in the reality of their antitype. For the set of things, there is only one corresponding antitype. That is why it is an antitype and not a type -- there is only one and all the set of types participate in it. So when Peter is saying that baptism is the antitype, he is saying it is that one thing which all the OT promises and foreshadowing of regeneration and justification points towards.

If you want, Ill send you a book on scriptural typology as used by Jews and Christians during the first few centuries A.D.

Jennie said...

Yes, Anonymous, you are right that what we do isn't the same thing, and that's why we can't have a common banquet of the Lamb.
Yes, Hebrews is clear that Christ Himself is our final sacrifice, such that no additional sacrifices are necessary nor allowed. To be clear, the Eucharist as celebrated from the beginning was a sacifice of thanksgiving, not a sacrifice for sin. Christ's once for all death was our sacrifice for sin. So, using your words, if the sacrifice of the Eucharist is believed to be Jesus then one has supplanted Christ by an additional sacrifice. That's what I believe, and that's one of the several reasons for the Reformation, and why I say the Eucharist is not God, but is a celebration of the Body of Christ. Jesus didn't say, 'this is Me'. He said 'this is My Body.' And Paul called the church the body of Christ, and He our Head. His body was broken, and our sinful selves are crucified with Him when we come to Him by faith. We become part of His body, 'For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.' Ephesians 5:29-30

Anonymous said...

@Jennie

You might find something that I wrote a few weeks ago helpful.

When it comes to the wife being "obedient" and how to understand that remember this. The promise is to love honor and obey. First is love, which encompasses all things. If the wife cannot love her husband, she should at least honor him. If she cannot honor him, the least she can do is obey him. Obedience is the minimum that should be done -- and it is often difficult because the mark of obedience is not the doing of what one wants to do but rather the doing of what one doesn't want to do. Christian marriage is not brought about by obedience -- for who would say that a marriage took place even though it was done against the will of the woman? Rather marriage must be founded upon love -- that the woman so chooses of her free will to receive the man as hers and to gift herself in return.

Marriage is perhaps easier for the woman -- for she is both spiritually and physically designed to receive. It is easier in the positive sense because it is easier to receive when one has not than it is to give what one has to that which is not. It is easier in the negative sense because the choice to not receive, and to use that ability to not receive to control and dictate the actions of the man, than it is for the man to make the woman love him. The man can only offer and hope for the reception of his gift of self.

Some say that man and woman should be mutually obedient to each other, but this is a misunderstanding of scripture as well as the order of love. Paul is giving the baselines of what must be done in Christian marriage. At minimum, the wife needs to obey. At minimum the husband needs to love. The husband doesn't get a fall back position -- his minimum is his maximum. At minimum the husband must love, he must give the totality of himself to his wife, just as Christ gave the totality of Himself to the Church without holding anything back. The husband fails and does wrong if he doesn't meet this threshold of love. Wives though, if they have difficulty can fall back to obedience as her minimum.

Why must the husband carry the greater burden? Why must his minimum be the total gift of his self? It is because in the order of love, the beloved's capacity for love is only as great as that which is given. If the lover only loves partially, the beloved cannot return the fullness of love because the beloved's totality of love is the summation of the lover's and the beloved's. What the woman returns to her husband is greater than what was given, for what is given is only the gift of one person, while what is returned is the reflection back of the gift united with the woman's own self gift. Thus without the totality of love from the husband, the woman cannot totally give.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie

Save that it is not an additional sacrifice because the greek that is used for "do this in REMEMBERANCE" is anamnesis and that means that what is done currently is one and the same event as what was done then.

"This is my body this is my blood" conveys a much richer meaning that "this is me". One could point to a picture and say "this is me" and we all know that picture is not you but to say "this is my body and this is my blood" is to say that THIS is ontologically all that I am, was, and will be.

Jennie said...

Anonymous and Leo, I guess we'd better not discuss the Eucharist, since we can't agree on it and it's not likely one will change the other's mind. Only God can do that.

Anonymous, I will think about what you wrote about the husband and wife and the husband having the greater burden. It makes alot of sense, and I want to give it time to sink in before I respond.

Leo said...

Jennie,

My caution was regarding the fact that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ in the Flesh and that this was taught by the Church from the beginning. After all, who coined the name 'Eucharist'?

Remember that every Catholic priest can trace his ordination back to the Apostles and that he says the following words at the Consecration:"And so Father, we ask you to bless these gifts and to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, so that they become the Body and Blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose command we celebrate this Eucharist."

I understand that you do not believe it, but that does not mean that you have a right to redefine what it is, according to your own wishes.

Just think about the words the priest uses. Humor me for a minute. What if God really does answer that prayer which he asks in Jesus' name?

You believe rightly that Communion in your church is mere bread and wine. We do not disagree, nor do we belittle it. Your pastor does not have apostolic succession, and he also does not use the words the priest uses. That is not hard to see.

There is no need to elevate your congregation by referring to it as the Eucharist. When Jesus said, "unless you eat my Flesh and drink my blood, you shall not have my life within you..." He was not referring to the congregation.

We believe that the Eucharist is God and that we are transformed by consuming Him. When we talk about becoming united to the Trinity, we believe that the ordinary means is through the Eucharist which we receive at Mass. Mary was blessed by having God inside of her; God gives us the same favor when we consume the Eucharist. This addresses this entire post about imputation and infusion.

Jesus left Himself in the Eucharist so that everyone could be with His resurrected presence.This is the way He multiplied Himself like the loaves and fishes...

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

Thanks. I would be willing to talk in detail about the Eucharist sometime, but we are not really to that point in our imputation vs infusion discussion. It can be a touchy subject especially as Catholics are willing, and have died, for the Eucharist.

I also look forward to hearing your thoughts on what I wrote reguarding the husband/wife bit.

Leo said...

Jennie,

And, by the way, I know from a number of my Protestant friends that they are quite moved and spiritually affected by Communion in their own services. This is why I would never attempt to diminish it.

You must realize that we as Catholics see imputation and infusion as being intrinsically linked to the Eucharist, whom we believe to be Jesus Christ in the Flesh.

Thus, when you logically separate the two topics from your perspective, we have a hard time with that from our perspective.

I also do not have an issue with you calling it Communion at your service and us calling it Communion at our service because that is a correct reference. Communion is also a part of the celebration by the gathered assembly.

'Eucharist', however, has a totally different meaning behind it and is specific. As Anon said, when we receive the Eucharist and say 'Amen', we should be saying that we are willing to sacrifice our very lives for that Truth...that we are receiving the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope I have clarified it somewhat.

Christine said...

Regarding wifely obedience, I am a little uncomfortable with having a "fall back position" of obedience, as I believe I am called to love as radically as my husband is. But I do agree about innate female receptivity, which could indeed make them more naturally fitted for marriage, as well as for faith itself. Which means that Jesus' masculinity has deep meaning, and his submission and sacrificing even more radical.

I

Christine said...

Here's a passage from Pope Pius that I believe speaks beautifully to Paul's marriage teaching:

This subjection does not take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman, both in view of her dignity as a human person and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion. Nor does it bid her to obey her husband's every request, even if not in harmony with right reason or the dignity due her as a wife. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family. It forbids that in this body, which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For, if the man is the head, the woman is the heart and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, she ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine


I didn't mean for the "fall back position" to mean that the wife isn't called to love as radically, by all means she is! The man is potency, the woman is fecundity. The woman's ability to bring forth fruit, whether spiritually or physically, is wholly dependent upon the man (this is why contraception is such a sin), but the man's potency is not dependent on the return gift of the woman (his love united with her love). Yes surely a woman who is only being obedient diminishes the fullness of the marriage, but it doesn't fracture, break, or snap it.


Great quote from the Pope. :-)

Anonymous said...

@Jennie,

I would like to do a little thought experiment. For the sake of the experiment, and only for the experiment, let it be assumed that scripture can be used to support imputation only justification or infused justification and that the various sides can pull an equal number of scriptural supports and that an impartial observer would be unable to distinguish which position had the stronger evidence for being correct.

Would it be possible for you to list three reasons why imputed justification (man is justified because he is declared righteous) is superior to infused justification (man is justified because he is made righteous) and then, viewing things from the other position, list three reasons why infused justification is superior to imputed justification? Because we have assumed that the scriptural evidence is equal you may not use scripture in any way as part of the three reasons. You should understand the infused justification aspect of things well enough to be able to argue from that position.

Jennie said...

Anonymous,
I like what you said about husbands and wives. I've heard similar things before, comparing marriage to Christ and the church, but the part about the husband carrying the greater burden is very helpful to me to understand my husband, comparing his love to Christ's love. It also compares, in our case, with the passage that says 'We love Him because He first loved us'. That's exactly how it worked in our relationship.

I wonder, carrying this over to the imputation/infusion conversation, if it would be helpful to understand the infused or imputed righteousness in light of seeing righteousness as love. Love is what is planted in us, by God's word, and brings forth faith, which is like the beginning of love I think. Faith produces the fruit of love. God's love for us brings forth love in us. I think the way it's usually debated reduces it to a formula and is too technical, though there can be a place for that.
Another thing to remember is that because of sin there is an aspect of guilt and the desert of punishment, the sentence of death, that must be dealt with. The sentence was carried out on the judge, who for love took our place, and pardoned us. He actually took our guilt upon Himself, and killed it on the cross. This great love, when we hear it in the gospel, through faith produces love in return for those who submit to it.
Remember also that, as we confess our sins, our guilt is truly washed away by the blood of Christ. We are made clean. We are made new by His Spirit. We have faith and love in us, and we are adopted as God's children, betrothed as Christ's bride. All this REALLY makes us righteous, which means in right relationship with God, through love.
More later....I'm sorry it took me so long. I didn't want to just slap something down, and I've been busy with family.

Jennie said...

Regarding wifely obedience, I am a little uncomfortable with having a "fall back position" of obedience, as I believe I am called to love as radically as my husband is.

I agree with Christine, here. Not that I've been very good at loving radically, but I believe that, even if the husband does not love, and/or is not a believer, the believing wife can love radically by the grace and power of God, showing God's love for her husband.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie


No problem. We all have obligations.


if it would be helpful to understand the infused or imputed righteousness in light of seeing righteousness as love


Well yes. I mentioned that up thread and over at C2C. Righteousness amongst those who believe in imputed righteousness is taken as "the state of having divine approval". That is not what the word in Hebrew means. Let me repost my synopsis from upthread: righteousness, justice, justification, charity -- these are all the same word derivatives in hebrew (tzedek). Justice is the giving of charity to those that are lacking. Justification is the act of giving charity and receiving charity. Righteousness is the state of having charity. Charity is the essence of love -- the self-gift for the sake of the other. The hebrew only makes sense if we understand it as "infused" or being made not "imputed" or being declared.


Yes I agree that God's love for us is what creates our love for Him. As you said "Love is what is planted in us". That is infused justification. Consider again your relationship with your husband. How did your love for him come to be? It is because he infused you with his love for you, not because he declared that you must love him. He gave who he was as a person to you and filled your life with his life. Does God not do the same thing? Does He not give us His life so that we might have life? He gives us His image, His breath, His word, His son, His spirit, His nature.

Jennie said...

For, if the man is the head, the woman is the heart and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, she ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.

Thanks for the excellent quote, Christine. I can see that striving for this balance in our families would begin to set alot of things right. If we can find our worth in God, and then take our places in His intended order, we can be free to give to each other without fear.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie


I agree with Christine, here. Not that I've been very good at loving radically, but I believe that, even if the husband does not love, and/or is not a believer, the believing wife can love radically by the grace and power of God, showing God's love for her husband.


There is a difference in the radical nature of love between man and woman. A man can only give himself. A woman can give herself as well as that which she has received. A woman cannot give back that which she has not received. If she does not receive the love of the man, she cannot gift it back. Thus the man is obligated to give totally to the wife because she cannot fully be that which is is called to be without his gift. The woman though in receiving love is obligated at least to give that love back. This is obedience -- returning what was given without the addition of herself. Love does not obligate the self gift of the beloved.


A wife's love is then both less and greater than her husbands. It is less because it is not demanded of her to gift herself back, and greater because in the gifting back of herself what is returned is the "investment plus interest".


The radical nature of love of the husband is one fold -- it is the total gift of the self. The radical nature of the wife is two fold -- it is obedience, the choosing not to do ones own will but rather the will of other , or rather simply returning that which was given -- it is the unified gift and interest, the return of the husband's love along with her own self, so that the will of the husband and the will of the wife are co-operative.


But yes, things are not a closed circle. The love between man and wife is also a reflection of God's love for them. A wife does receive from God, His love for her, and that enables her to gift back to God as well as to gift herself and God's love to her husband. Same with the man. This is why "humanity" in its perfected form is essentially female not male for it functions in relationship to God as Bride.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie


No I don't agree that Christ was punished in our place because that means the Father has a wrath problem. I believe that Christ suffered for us but I do not believe that He was punished for us.


For Catholics, there is a two fold problem: 1.) Man is a creature and thus has a natural end. God though has not called man to a natural end but a supernatural end. Remember that Adam's state in the garden was perfect according to the natural order but not the supernatural -- that is why He was still lonely even though he walked with God. 2.) Man's sin has made him unsuitable for both his supernatural end and natural end.


A lot of Reformed authors see God's decree as what makes man unsuitable to God -- stretching Paul's line in Romans of there being no sin before the law beyond breaking. This is in conformity with their believing that it is God's decree that makes man suitable or approved -- hence grace is strictly "divine approval" and the whole thing is done via imputation. This isn't correct. What makes us suitable or unsuitable is who we are not what God decrees. We make ourselves unsuitable to him. If we act in accord with our nature then we are suitable for our natural end. If God acts we can become suitable for our supernatural end if we act in concert with God's action.


Because Reformed see things in terms of decrees, the punishments and curses of the Father's divine decrees need to be carried out -- the Father's wrath must be dissipated. Hence the whole "Christ suffered hell" that you see amongst the Reformed. Because Catholics see things in terms of nature, the punishments and curses of the Law do not need to be carried out if man's nature is healed and changed. Because nature is changed the Law no longer applies (do you hear Paul's words in that thought? I do.) The argument of Satin in scripture (this can be seen in Job) is that man cannot fulfill God's desire to elect him to a supernatural end because he is a natural creature -- he will always fall short both because he is a sinner and because nature by the abilities of nature cannot achieve a supernatural end. Satin is correct, man cannot be, on his own, that which God calls man to be. But God's plan isn't simply to call man to a supernatural end, but rather to elevate man to this end by giving Him a participation in the divine life. Because the Son incarnates problem 2.) is solved by problem 1.). The hypostatic union changes man's nature so sin and death no longer have a hold upon it. Death where art thou sting? Now Christ is not a sinner but we are. As sinners we are deserving of death and wrath. However it is not God's will to give us those things, His will is that we should have life and have it as a participation in His (though of course we are free to reject that for that is what sin is). The punishment for sin, that is death, is only applicable so long as I am under the Law. If however my nature is changed then I will no longer be under the Law (which is to say the natural and moral Law) but I would be under now the Law of Christ, which is the Law of sonship and fellowship and participation in the divine life, which includes the natural but goes beyond that to the supernatural. (Can you hear Paul here? I do.)

Anonymous said...

continued from above

Thus for Catholics you resolve the issue of the punishments of the Law not by punishing but rather by changing man's nature so that the Law no longer applies. If a man receives tzedakah, charity, his being made righteous means that the punishments of the Law no longer applies. It is not justice to say that an unrighteous man should be declared just and thus not punished. It is though justice to make an unrighteous man righteous and thus no longer apply the punishments of the Law.


What the cross is, is the obedience unto death -- the not what I will but though will, that is the minimum requirement of the beloved to the lover, and it is also the radical "gift plus interest" of the beloved to the lover the "into your hands I give my all". Christ is the fulcrum -- the total self gift of God's own person into the hands of His beloved people -- the masculinity of the husband's love. (STOP HERE and think for a second. What mankind did in response to God's self gift is equivalent of your husband asking your hand in marriage and your response being stabbing him in the heart with an ice pick. The crucifixion is man's evil response to God's proposal. This indeed My people, what have I done to you How have I offended you? Answer me! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1614999/posts) But Christ is also the response of the Bride, the self gift plus interest, the feminity of the wife's love. When man because he was bound in sin couldn't reply back to God's love, the Son incarnated so that He could make the reply for us. Through Christ, the cross is humanity's reply back to the Father. This is why the Son was sent, because in the Trinity, the Son is the beloved of the Father. He is the one who gifts back the gift of the Father plus interest, and it is this joint action of the Father and Son (the gift and reception and return and gift) which spirates the Holy Spirit. Christ is our High Priest -- He stands in our place and makes the reply back to the Father on our behalf. Christ is our sacrafice -- He is that which we give back to the Father. Christ is the Father's self gift to us. Christ is our self gift back to the Father. Humanity is called at least to obediance -- to return that which is given, but also greater still to give the gift plus interest -- to give Christ back along with ourselves -- to say along with Paul that in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ

Jennie said...

Anon,
Yes, I remember now that you did say that about righteousness; I think we actually agree about alot, except I still believe scripture teaches imputation. When I was reading the comments the other day, my oldest daughter was sitting next to me. She read your comment about the thought experiment and said, "isn't it both?" As in isn't righteousness both imputed and infused? I think the reformed idea of it goes too far in trying to explain imputation in order to emphasize the sovereignty of God and our dependence upon Him. I think the imputation is important to help us see our sinfulness and that our salvation comes from God and not ourselves. I think both the reformed and the Catholic ideas have good points, but that both can learn from each other.

I'm not sure if I can do your experiment in the way you said, since I don't agree that it is either/or. I do believe it's both, so I can't say one is superior. I think imputed righteousness is our declaration of innocence because Christ has borne our sins and washed us by His blood, and also it means that, even though we were sinners and enemies, that we are immediately declared right with God when we come to Him by faith. We have nothing to stand on but Christ when we come to Him, because 'all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags' (Isaiah 64) But it doesn't end there.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie

There are several different classical Protestant positions as to what "inputed justification" means. What unites them though is that they deny that an individual is "made rightious".

The Catholic/Orthodox position of "infused justification" doesn't deny aspects of reckoned rightiousness or God decreeing such. What is denied in the Catholic/Orthodox position is that 1.) the rightiousness required to make man suitable for communion with God is external and imputed 2.) the rightiousness that is needed is alien to man

I agree that we are close in our understanding of things.

Let me put things this way....list three reasons why your position is superior to my position and then list three reasons why my position is superior to your position. Do not have scripture in anyway as part of the reasons. Once we do that we can compare position A to position B and we both can offer suggestions to improve position A or B.

For Example (and not giving the best reasons)

Reformed Position is Superior Because
1. It is the position of Calvin
2. It is the position of the WCF.
3. Van Til agrees with it.

Catholic Position is Superior because
1. It is the position of Augustine
2. It is the position of Trent.
3. The Orthodox agree with it.

Once we have agreement on the best possible positions then we can have a discussion as to, for example if Augustine should be trusted over Calvin, whether Trent, which was more cosmopolitan than the WCF which was just English Reformed, has more weight than the WCF, and whether it is more important to have Van Til be in agreement or the Orthodox.

(sorry for spelling, not on my normal computer)

Anonymous said...

@Jennie,

I think that the reason why lots of modern Baptist Evangelicals have a concept of infused justification in their theology is due to certain modern English writers like C.S. Lewis and N.T. Write breaking down and moving away from the classical imputed justification understanding as held by Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican.

I think we are in agreement that the Bible doesn't teach imputed justification as Calvin taught it. The question should thus become does scripture teach it as Luther taught it? If not, then what as "imputed justification" as a theological concept distinct from theosis/divinization doesn't appear prior to Luther. Look at the quote that I have from Augustine above...what does he define man's rightiousness as? Its not imputed alien rightiousness, it is his activity of fasting almsgiving and penance.

But lets focus looking at what you will write in your three reasons why your position is superior and your three reasons why my position is superior.

Christine and others who are reading this do this too. The more who help here the more we can get the top three reasons for each position and then the can be compared.

Christine said...

Can I try? Just to see if this is the kind of think you mean?

The reformed position is superior because:
1. It requires nothing of the human being but to "accept Christ"
2. No one can feel superior due to acts of charity or justice, since works are utterly without merit to the individual
3. If you are one of the elect, there is nothing you can do to lose your salvation

The Catholic position (or infusion) is superior because:
1. We are truly transformed by God's grace and can therefore REALLY participate in God's life and love
2. Our choices are free and have profound meaning, making life a daring challenge to allow ourselves to be radically changed/used/humbled by God
3. We don't have the moral faith-challenging crisis of having the Reformed God who causes and intends evil, albeit as part of his "plan".

Is that the kind of thing you mean?

Anonymous said...

@Christine,

Oh yes I defiantly want you and everyone to try and I also want it to be serious (no intentionally picking stupid / farcical reasons for the side that you actually disagree with).


This will help the discussion progress towards a higher level were everyone can examine reasons for why they believe the way they do. Faith and religious belief can be really powerful things if people engage it at a radical level. Are we just filling up the pews in Church or are we letting that which we believe in really truly be transformative to our lives?


But let me be clear here, the goal of this is to call everyone involved to a deeper level of Faith, a faith that is truly superior -- myself included. It is my goal to come away from these discussions edified and with a more "superior" system of belief and means of expressing the realities which we participate in.


And that is important -- we are not discussing theorems and imaginary concepts here, we are discussing real and tangible things.


With your listings: I like them they are good. If you think of a position that would be superior to any of those that you have listed, repost the list.


let me give another quick list.....


Why the Lutheran concept of imputed justification is superior:

1.) The Law brings death. By having Christ complete the moral law instead of us, we do not need to complete it in order to be saved.

2.) It solves the problem of evil. The Elect still sin because they are still sinners in their nature, yet as Christ takes all the punishment on the Cross, there is no punishment owed for the sins caused by the elect.

3.) The yoke of Christ is easy -- it requires radical trust in God that Christ has done everything. One doesn't need to be a "saint" in order to see heaven.


Why the Catholic concept of infused justification is superior:

1.) The moral law is life. It teaches us how we are to live life. Infused justification enables us to live as God intended us to live -- living in communion with God according to the moral law of love.

2.) Infused justification has a serious understanding of evil. Evil exists not because God has decreed for it to exist but because evil is a radical rejection of the good. The solution to evil is not to make it impossible for people to commit evil nor is it to simply ignore the evil that is committed but to rather heal people and to allow sin to have real repercussions -- loss of communion with God and death.

3.) The yoke of Christ is real and light -- it requires radical love of God and radical acceptance of God's love. Being moral and a saint, and having perfection there, is about loving perfectly, which is to fully gift oneself to others and to fully gift oneself to God. The yoke is real in that what is required is to live a life of supernatural virtue -- to live the life of Christ. The yoke is easy in that we do not do this through human effort but through grace. When we fight against love the yoke is hard, but when we are docile and act in concert with love, the yoke is light.

Christine said...

Your list is compelling and revelatory. I would add to mine, and not sure which of the three points to add it to, that with the infused theology, we are endowed by God with the freedom to choose to be co-creators with God, because his love is such that it always seeks to share grace and power with his creatures and not hoard those gifts to himself alone. This is exemplified by parents who want to truly give to and empower their children with virtues to act on in the world.

Anonymous said...

@Christine,


Thanks. I have a fascination with why people believe the way they do and how different pieces fit together.


I think your argument for virtue is a compelling argument particularly because the Catholic message that hard core imputed justification Protestant's don't like is preciecely that -- we are called to be virtuous and moral people. It is right there in the standard apologetically material "Catholicism is bad because it is a moral religion".


I think also that your point about having the freedom to be co-creators is spot on too, for both points often are denied amongst forms of imputed justification. In Lutheran and Reformed theology, fallen man doesn't have free will, and also the imagio dei has been lost in the fall. (have you ever read writings by semi-pro-abortion protestants who suggest that abortion can be done because the imagio dei is lost and thus it is not a true sin? Makes your skin crawl.) Being co-creators is also problematic as well as both Lutheran and Reformed tend to be heavily monergistic -- that is God is the only actor and man has no participation but is only the object acted upon.


There are implications to what we believe -- what we believe intellectually impacts how we act and how we act impacts what we believe.


The idea of imputed justification really appeared out of nowhere and quickly spread across Europe. It is often mistakenly assumed that this was a Golden Age of sudden reawakening of true piety. It wasn't and it was rather a bloody mess. The revolt against the Church sparked the Peasant Revolts (which the anabaptists were in the thick of fomenting), morality and education collapsed, and the European political system shattered apart as the only glue that kept everyone mostly together was a unified religion.

Anonymous said...

Some more

Why the concept of imputed justification is superior:

1. It is disassociated from the Jewish concept of salvation. The Jews were given religion to teach that man cannot act in his own salvation and that anything that he does displeases God. The Christian religion transplants the Jewish covenantal system by the imputation of Christ's justice. What man could not do is given freely.


2. Imputed justification is simple straightforward and corresponds to a punitive legal system. Sinners need to be punished and cannot escape that punishment for it would be unjust for a judge to vacate punishment. That evil has occurred cannot simply be undone, it has occurred. The only option to escape punishment (hell) is to impute the punishment to another and to be imputed righteousness.


3. Human nature is incompatible with the divine. Imputed justification maintains this incompatibility allowing God alone to have glory and alone to do work. By having imputed justification, man can have contact with the divine through this imputation.


Why the Catholic concept of infused justification is superior:


1. It maintains the Jewish understanding of salvation while elevating it to a new level. For the Jew salvation was covenantal, found in the hope of God's promises while living out the proscriptions of the Law of Moses. For the Christian, salvation is found in the realization of God's promises to the Jews while being transformed by grace in the Law of Christ.


2. Infused justification is as complex as life itself. Because sin is the absence of life in order to move from a position of non-life to live one must be given life. Punishment for sin only exists so long as one is in a state lacking life. If life is given to a sinner they no longer remain a sinner and in having live need not punishment.


3. Infused justification doesn't destroy man's human nature, subsume it, etc. Infusing righteousness elevates and makes human nature suitable to have direct contact with God and who He is in His own person. Because human nature is so elevated it has a true share in that which does not belong to it.

Christine said...

Very, very interesting. Another big difference to me would be the meaning and value of suffering under each system. How can we escape the fact that under imputation/Reformed, God is the cause and perpetrator of suffering?!

Anonymous said...

@Christine


If I remember right the escape hatch for the Reformed is that although God decrees which course a man's life should take and although man has no free will, man is still responsible because He is the one that pulled the trigger of the gun. It is a copout for it is the equivalent of saying that J.R.R. Tolkien isn't responsible for the death of Boromir.

Christine said...

In an ill-advised argument I got into on another blog, the Reformed folks insisted that if God is NOT responsible for each and every sin and evil in the world then He is not omnipotent and omniscient. They said that God's omniscience is "based in His decrees", whereas I argued that God's omniscience is an essential attribute of His. I also tried to argue that foreknowledge does not equal causation, but they have answers for that too, answers that trap God in earthly linear time, very odd.

Anyway, this is an interesting exercise, seeing what people think are the relative merits of the two viewpoints. I would add to the arguments for infusion the added superiority that it is the TRUE one :)

Anonymous said...

@Christine


I have seen that too. In talking with people I tend not to go that far but leave the door open for Reformed people to walk through and afirm on their own that position. Doing that allows me the chance to ask the question "Do you realize what you are saying?"


Everything in Reformed theology really boils away to "God's divine decrees" -- God is not the author of evil because whatever he has decreed is what has been decreed, and is thus true and the way things are to be done. In the system, something is good if it has been decreed. There are several points where this is coming from, but a large part of it is from taking God's sovereignty and elevating that practically to the point of being the quintessential aspect of God's nature so that, in practice, what is good and what is evil is determined by what God decrees those things to be. You see this same concept of sovereignty and God in Islam and I would love to read an article that investigates the possibility of Islamic theology influencing the development of the Reformation. It is often forgotten that Europe was fighting for its survival when the Reformation broke out. Islamic theology was not an unknown quantity but I rarely see anyone talk about its impact in Christian Europe.


Have you ever read Milton's Paradise Lost? Even if you have check out Satin's soliloquy in I believe book 4. The world of Paradise Lost is a fleshed out variant of what those Reformed people were talking about.


I don't think we need to go as far as to say that Infused is superior because it is true(at least just yet) because that is also the same point that those that believe in imputed would put forth. In the exercise, what is true will be what is superior. In this life we cannot know everything and it is impossible to know what is true in all cases. However if when we come to a fork in our path, if we simply take the superior road each time we will be fine. We might not always be able to distinguish that which is superior but we will mostly do so and thus arrive at our destination.

Christine said...

The reformed folks never said "something is good if it has been decreed" - if they had, at least I would have understood better where they were coming from, so thank you. They didn't even bother to deny my claims that their system makes God into an evil actor.

I was kidding about my own view point being the "true" one, but in all seriousness, I'm not sure superiority of concept is the right measure. It is such for the purposes of this enlightening exercise, but if someone thinks that it is superior to think that God has a fixed plan that makes the elect end up OK, and causes suffering and sin accordingly, that wouldn't make it true. Or we may think a much superior way for God to operate would be for Him to prevent human suffering. But we can see objectively that he does not do so, and so the superior way is not in fact, true.

However, in writing and thinking about this, I see that if one were presented with the argument that it would be superior if God intervened to prevent suffering, one would think it through further and find it not superior in the loss of freedom it would entail.

Jennie said...

Anonymous and Christine,
Please forgive me for not participating in the conversation. Several factors are keeping me from being able to concentrate on the subject at the moment. One, I seem to be in a bit of a fog right now; probably middle age hormones. Two, I'm pretty distracted because I've been in the process of applying for counseling and have been mentally rehashing old feelings as I fill out the application. Three, I really don't agree with the reformed view on alot, so I can't focus on thinking of why it is superior. I pretty much think both sides are off base and need to get back to a scriptural foundation. I know the Reformed would be astounded at that idea, since they are supposedly 'sola scriptura'. I think there is a wide variety of reformed thought, so some are not as far off as others. Anyway, I've gone through many issues on this blog about both Catholicism and Calvinism that I have been questioning.
Please keep discussing, and I'll join in when I get my brain straightened out :)

Anonymous said...

@ Jennie,

Well I did say not to focus on the Reformed view but rather your view of things. i am delineating between Lutheran and Reformed when I can.

Personally I find Reformed to be more properly "solo scriptura" where as Lutherans are "sola scriptura".

The problem that we do have is what does "getting back to a scriptural foundation" mean and look like. The fact that you and I cannot agree on what that looks like doesn't actually make the problem more complex.

Consider for a moment that one of those black censorship bars exists in real life. Let us use to to cover an object so that we cannot through our senses or intellect directly determine what that object is. Person A believes that Z in inside. Person B believes that Y is inside. Does that mean that it is impossible to determine who is right since we cannot look in side? No we simply observe how the environment reacts to the presence of the hidden object.

That is what we are doing in this experiment. Because we cannot agree what is in scripture (thus proving that scripture doesn't have perspicuity), we are simply "hiding" its content and taking a look at what the environment indicates about what is in scripture.

Is there anything that I could pray for you about? Perhaps a new thread is warranted on your blog were one could hash out "the fog" amongst friends. Perhaps a topic on the nature of suffering or perhaps metaphysical abandonment (the soul's longing for God and the seaming dark and distance is sometimes encountered), or perhaps something else.

Anonymous said...

@ Christine,


Reformed theology has always had the problem of anti-Reformed apologists going after it with the charge that the system has made God into a monster -- from the beginning and in Calvin's lifetime. There are several ways one can get out of that charge but they all involve redefining what truth and goodness are. There are serious metaphysical and epistemological differences between Catholicism and Reformed.


Right. Exactly, exactly, exactly. "How can God be good if there is suffering in the world?" is often a trick question used by atheists used to bash believers but it is an important question none the less. Because as you pointed out, God allowing suffering is superior to Him simply decreeing that all are saved and no one has to suffer.

Jennie said...

Anonymous,
Sure, please pray for me to understand and let go of the anger and bitterness that I've held for so long, since the beginning of my marriage. Maybe some comes from earlier too. I know I've had depression since I was a child. I didn't realize where the anger was coming from, but it has been made worse by the hormones that complicate things at my age. I'll be going to my first counseling session on Thursday.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie

(where did your picture go?)

I will pray for you.

Anger and depression are often tied together. It doesn't help that modern society gives us lots and lots of bagage and no tools to cope.

Jennie said...

Thanks so much for praying for me, Anonymous.
Oops, I was signed in under my other google account, which doesn't have the photo.
Anonymous, it seems not fair we can't see you, by the way. For all I know, you might be Cardinal Somebody, or Mother Angelica :) (I don't remember if you gave any indication of your gender, forgive me), since you did indicate you may be somebody in religious authority. It seems a disadvantage to me, since you know our names and faces, and we don't know yours. However, it's ok if you decide it's best to remain anonymous; I don't want to chase you off or put you in a bind.

Anonymous said...

@Jennie

Anonymous is fine for this post.

I have tried hard to not actually indicate any identifying features of my person. I am though giving you my personality which is worth more than a picture and a name which may or may not actually belong to me.

Let me give you a bit more of my personality, from a very different angle
http://youtu.be/1s2CC3Z4Vss?hd=1

Christine said...

Jennie - so sorry for what you are going through. Am praying for you. Life is SO hard, for sure.

Sounds like Anon knows all too well what it is like, and I have to try to keep my husband's will to live going each and every day.

What a mystery.

Jennie said...

Thanks so much Christine. I'm praying for you and your husband too.

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