On Distinguishing Between Synonyms

Posted by on January 27, 2013 in Catholicism, Exegesis, Featured, Gospel, Justification, Paradigms, Protestantism, Reformed Theology, Romans, Sanctification | 77 comments

As those who have been following my series on paradigms know, I have been arguing that there is a vast amount of New Testament data that may be able to be squeezed into just about any theological system, but nonetheless fits best within a Catholic paradigm. Indeed, much of this data simply would not have arisen from a (proto) Protestant paradigm at all, despite Protestants wholeheartedly affirming such passages and doing their best to fit (or force) them into their theological systems.

One of my arguments has been that the Reformed view of justification is deficient because it only takes into account a small sliver of the relevant data (and by “relevant data,” I mean passages that employ either the term dikaioo  in a soteriological context, or allude to the concept of sinners being saved and receiving eternal life on the day of judgment). In a word, it is completely arbitrary to limit the data-set that informs our understanding of justification to only a handful of verses in a book like Romans, especially when certain usages in that very book are excluded.

For example:

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 (Rom. 6:5-7).

The word that most modern translations render as “set free” is the perfect passive form of the Greek word dikaioo, to justify. The question that arises should be obvious: “Why would Protestants not allow this usage of dikaioo  to inform their theological understanding of justification?” If they were to do so, then justification would be seen to include sanctification and our being freed from the power of sin.

The answer from the Protestant could be: “Just because Paul uses the Greek word for ‘justify’ as a synonym for sanctification doesn’t mean that he is conflating the two, since the usage of a word doesn’t necessitate that the theological concept is in view.” But this appeal to the word/concept fallacy just begs the question. In other words, whether or not justification should be limited to the forensic while excluding the transformative is precisely the issue under dispute, so to say that the appearance of dikaioo  in Romans 6:7 should not be incorporated into our understanding of justification since its usage there is an anomaly is to assume what itself needs to be proven.

But perhaps the bigger question in all of this is, “If Paul was operating from a paradigm that said that distinguishing between justification and sanctification is essential for getting the gospel right, then why would the apostle use the Greek word for the former as a synonym for the latter?”

77 Comments

  1. I agree.

    Sanctification is the flip side of justification.

    God does them both. In spite of ‘our help’, not because of it.

    “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion… .” (nothing in there about what ‘we do’)

  2. You’re missing my point entirely, Steve. Read the question with which I end the post and get back to me.

    PS – Unless you really do agree, as you say. In that case, I’m glad we’re on the same page about justification including our being set free from the power of sin (or, “sanctification” as it is usually called).

  3. That’s just it, Jason, Paul was saying that they are two sides of the same coin.

    He says, in many places that God does it all.

    Read my quote of Paul in my 1st comment. What does that mean?

  4. OK, next time we flip coins against each other and I say “Heads” and it comes up tails, I will say that since heads and tails are synonyms, that therefore I win.

    See what I am saying? Paul’s not saying that justification and sanctification are different sides of the same coin, he is calling sanctification “justification.”

  5. No he isn’t.

    He quite clearly says in many places and different ways, that” we are saved by grace through faith and not of works lest anyone should boast.”

    Sanctification and justification are used interchangeably in other places in the Bible (“you are sanctified and justified and vice-versa)

    Why in the world you would want to put all this stuff back onto the backs of sinners, I have no idea. That makes it into ‘bad news’ and not “good news”.

    Oh well, many people just love the religious project. I guess you are just being a good Catholic. I tried (at that) and failed miserably. I have to hand it to you, Jason.

    Goodnight, friend. I have an early start tomorrow, so you will have the last word.

  6. He isn’t? Read Rom. 6, Steve. Paul is talking about our being freed from the power of sin (sanctification), and he does it using the term “justified.”

    Your response amounts to a dismissal of what the Bible says based on your not liking the theological ramifications involved. You then top it off with an ad hominem. Honestly, it’s like my Protestant readers aren’t even trying anymore.

    So no, I won’t accept this as the last word. I am hoping that you’ll get a good night’s sleep and come back tomorrow with a response that takes into account what Paul says, and that includes at least one reason why I am not properly understanding him.

    Sound like a plan?

  7. Jason,

    You said: The word that most modern translations render as “set free” is the perfect passive form of the Greek word dikaioo, to justify. The question that arises should be obvious: “Why would Protestants not allow this usage of dikaioo to inform their theological understanding of justification?” If they were to do so, then justification would be seen to include sanctification and our being freed from the power of sin.

    1. The question is misleading and objectionable. It already assumes that the word “freed” or literally “justified” is to be taken to mean “sanctification” and should be interpreted as being freed from the “power” of sin. First the text, didn’t say that but rather just says “ho gar apothanon dedikaiontai apo tes hamartias”. To claim that “dedikaiontai apo” should be immediately relegated to the concept of sanctification and involves transformation away from the forensic overtone of the word has not been argued in your post.

    2. The phrase could mean “declared free from sin”. The forensic side is still clear without any reference to any inherent change or transformation of the subject. To declare one free from “hamartias” can be taken to mean “freed from the guilt or penalty of sin”. This meaning has been strongly identified in Acts 13:38-39 where “forgiveness of sins” is in view. This is also the common Pauline sense of the word. Or, it could be taken as a simple way of being declared free from the punitive and obligatory power of the law. The law being the revealer of sin as per Romans 3:20 and the similar phraseology regarding death used in Romans 7:2. Paul could have simply appealed to a rabinnic source as some scholars argued where “death” legally dissolves the right of someone towards another. Further, the verse also hinges on who “died” in this verse. It could be argued that the referent of death is Christ and his atonement. In other words, in view of what Christ has done who died and yet was without sin (Romans 8:1-4), we are to look at Him and His atonement mirroring His righteousness. Christ was the one vindicated from sin in his death.

    Thus, there are a lot of exegitical work done in this verse which convincingly prove that the term “dedikaiontai apo” does not belong to the theological concept of sanctification. Surely, justification and sanctification are inseparable doctrines and thus this verse shows the relationship between the two. But this is not a convincing verse which proves the conflation of the two concepts.

    Regards,
    Joey

  8. Jason–

    Protestant “justification” is a systematics term much as “trinity” is. Perhaps it would be better to substitute coined jargon, call it “initialization” (since it’s the first thing that happens to us) or “declaration” (since we are declared righteous) or “righteousization”…anything to keep it from being confused as you have confused it here. The biblical usage of justification (dikaioo includes both declaration (being declared righteous extrinsically) and sanctification (being made righteous intrinsically). There is simply no problem with forensic righteousness and inherent righteousness being covered by one Greek word, with context distinguishing between them.

    As to why Paul doesn’t make things crystal clear, I surely don’t know: probably because we would still find ways to skew things around to saying what we want them to say. I wish the NT writers had been clearer about the mode and timing of baptism, the nature of the Eucharist, and the formulation of the Trinity. Nevertheless, I don’t see how you can use that selfsame vagueness to score points for your side.

  9. Joey,

    Thus, there are a lot of exegitical work done in this verse which convincingly prove that the term “dedikaiontai apo” does not belong to the theological concept of sanctification. Surely, justification and sanctification are inseparable doctrines and thus this verse shows the relationship between the two. But this is not a convincing verse which proves the conflation of the two concepts.

    Fair point. The reason I think Paul is using “dedikaiontai apo” to denote freedom from the power of sin is that the context leading up to v. 6 is all about our having “died” to sin:

    “How can we who died to sin still live in it? 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” (vv. 2-6).

    So the issue here is our death with Christ, obviously. But what is the result of that death? Paul is clear: “in order that we might walk in newness of life”; “in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing”; and “so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Then, in the very next verse, Paul says, “So the one who had died to sin has been set free (justified) from sin.” Setting aside the term “sanctification,” it is clear that Paul is using all of these phrases as synonymous phrases all denoting the result of our death with Jesus. So the question is whether these phrases are also synonymous with the idea of sanctification, and I would argue that the answer is obviously yes. Ask any first-year seminary student at Covenant or WSC whether walking in newness of life and not being enslaved to sin is referring to justification or sanctification, and they will answer the latter, and rightly so.

    Let me try to put this into a syllogism (where’s Bryan Cross when you need him?):

    Premise 1: Rom. 6:1-7 deals with our death with Christ.

    Premise 2: Our death with Christ yields results associated with sanctification in vv. 1-6 (such as walking in newness of life, the body of sin being brought to nothing, and no longer being enslaved to sin).

    Premise 3: Romans 6:7 also speaks of our death with Christ and its result: those who have died with Christ have been justified from sin.

    Conclusion: Since all the results of our death with Christ in vv. 1-6 deal with sanctification rather than justification (understood through Protestant lenses), then it stands to reason that the same is true of v. 7, and therefore Paul is using “dedikaiontai” to mean “freedom from the power of sin.”

    And the broader conclusion, obviously, is that the idea that justification for Paul is solely forensic and non-transformative is false.

  10. Eric,

    Welcome back.

    Protestant “justification” is a systematics term much as “trinity” is. Perhaps it would be better to substitute coined jargon, call it “initialization” (since it’s the first thing that happens to us) or “declaration” (since we are declared righteous) or “righteousization”…anything to keep it from being confused as you have confused it here. The biblical usage of justification (dikaioo includes both declaration (being declared righteous extrinsically) and sanctification (being made righteous intrinsically). There is simply no problem with forensic righteousness and inherent righteousness being covered by one Greek word, with context distinguishing between them.

    OK, I obviously agree. But it seems to me that you are giving away far too much here, for you’re saying that the biblical data (in this case how the term dikaioo is used) does not correspond to how Reformed theology understands the doctrine of justification. If that’s really what you’re saying, then don’t, like, loads of problems arise for your position? Not the least of which is your claim to base your soteriology on Scripture alone being seriously undermined?

    As to why Paul doesn’t make things crystal clear, I surely don’t know: probably because we would still find ways to skew things around to saying what we want them to say. I wish the NT writers had been clearer about the mode and timing of baptism, the nature of the Eucharist, and the formulation of the Trinity. Nevertheless, I don’t see how you can use that selfsame vagueness to score points for your side.

    But what makes Paul on justification seem unclear is precisely your systematic theology, which selects an arbitrarily small amount of the data on justification, creates its doctrine from that small selection, and then has no choice but to scratch its head when so many exceptions to the rule are encountered (like the one we’re considering in this post).

    But if you allowed all the relevant NT data to inform your doctrine of justification, you would (by definition) end up with a doctrine that actually matches the biblical data quite well.

  11. Jason–

    Are you being serious?

    No problems spring up.

    No “exceptions to the rule” are encountered.

    The many biblical passages have different contexts.

    Easy-peasy. Lemon-squeezy.

  12. Joey,

    I think Jason made a solid case for why the context surrounding verse 6:7 supports sanctification and goes against identifying the one who died as Jesus. But as you are well aware, the consensus among the Reformed is that in Chapter 6 Paul has transitioned into the topic of Sanctification, so Jason’s “assumption” in the opening post is affirmed by your own camp. While I see this “transition” from Justification to Sanctification as purely ad hoc (especially since “sanctification” only appears once towards the end of the chapter), none the less we should not see forensic terminology within Chapter 6 if the Reformed thesis is true. Yet we see 6:1-7 summed up in the “forensic” closing verses:

    Romans 6: 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Scripture-interpreting-Scripture makes a good case that we being “justified from sin” in 6:7 is the same as we being “set free from sin” in 6:22. But more importantly, this context contains one of Reformed theology’s most beloved verses on Justification, “the wages of sin is death but gift of God is eternal life,” which is only found here. Yet Paul makes attaining eternal life conditioned on our sanctification, which makes little sense if all credit goes to Christ’s Imputed Righteousness.

    You did say two other things that caught my eye, the first of which is when you said dikaioo in 6:7 “could be taken as a simple way of being declared free from the punitive and obligatory power of the law. The law being the revealer of sin as per Romans 3:20 and the similar phraseology regarding death used in Romans 7:2.” I think it is a very good insight and actually supports the Catholic view of Romans 3-4, since this frames everything Paul is discussing in terms of the Mosaic Covenant versus the New Covenant, and not some Covenant of Works versus God’s once-and-for-all forensic decree that one is legally entitiled to eternal life on the basis of Christ’s Imputed Righteousness.

    You also said: “Christ was the one vindicated from sin in his death.”
    I think this interpretation is very unlikely. In 1 Timothy 3:16, the Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus in the Resurrection, but vindicating from sin by a death makes little sense. That said, I think interpreting dikaioo in Romans 3-4 as “vindicate” has merit which the Reformed side refuses to explore, and in fact I’d say it’s the Protestant side assuming what dikaioo means in 3-4 and forcing the rest of Scripture to comply.

  13. Sanctified; to be made holy…set apart.

    Justified; to be made holy…set apart.

    It’s the same stuff. And God does them both.

    I know…I know…you want a hand in it. You just have to have a dog in this fight.

    Here’s a news flash; God doesn’t need your measly help. In actuality it is more of a hindrance to Him.

  14. Adam/Steve,

    “Here’s a news flash; God doesn’t need your measly help. In actuality it is more of a hindrance to Him.”

    You just refuted the Incarnation.

  15. Just a couple of real brief comments:

    1. Jason, you’ve been hanging around the CTC guys too long as is evident by your dismissal of a lot of things with the phrase “begging the question.”

    2. More seriously, where is the serious action with the scores of Protestant commentaries that have been written on this verse? I know space is limited, but one of the deficiencies of these posts is the all-too-brief reference to “oh, the Protestant could say that, but doesn’t it make much more sense…” There really isn’t anything that you are saying that is new, so if you want to convince other Protestants, it seems to me that you need to interact with Calvin, Murray, Moo, Buchanan, Fesko, and even a Roman Catholic commenter like Joseph Fitzmeyer in more depth.

    3. At the point of faith, Protestants have long argued that we get a double benefit — the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness for our justification and the infusion of His grace for our sanctification. The latter is grounded in logical order upon the former, so it is not inconsistent for Protestants to insist on the traditional Protestant view of justification in light of this verse. Paul knows of no justified person who is not also being sanctified, as sanctification begins when justification is accomplished. Sin will not reign over those who have been justified because justification comes first, logically, and sanctification follows. In no sense can we look to this verse and say, “Well, since being justified from sin means that we are set free from sin’s power to do good works, our good works now mix in with the work of Christ to merit our justified status.” In fact, the perfect voice of the verb mitigates against it.

    4. Romans 6:7 comes on the heels of Romans 4, where Paul draws a clear contrast between working and receiving a gift. Once our works, Spirit-wrought or otherwise, are seen as contributing to our justification and making some kind of a claim upon God (and that is what Rome is saying, for they have had to invent all manner of condign/congruent merit distinctions to try and get around the obvious — merit is merit is merit), we aren’t receiving a gift but working.

    5. Go read book 3 of Calvin’s institutes on how works vis a vis eternal life can be spoken of in a sequential sense but not a causative sense. Romans 1–4 makes the latter impossible.

    6. Protestants are not “ignoring” large amounts of data. We just insist on going first to those passages where justification as how one is set right with God is addressed most clearly and then reading other passages in light of that. Reversing the process opens up one to all manner of errors. We start considering the deity of Christ by addressing John 1 and other clear revelations of his deity before looking at those passages that seem to refer to him as just a man. If we use the other passages as the basis for our doctrine, we miss everything.

    7. Even a Roman Catholic commenter like Joseph Fitzmeyer says Paul “does not equate faith with love; nor does he ascribe to love what he does to faith (viz., justification, salvation), even though he recognizes the necessity of the two working in tandem. For Paul there cannot be any faith without accompanying love, that is to say, deeds that manifest that faith in the concern for God or for other human beings.” (Romans, p. 138). This is just what Luther, Calvin, et al have been saying all along. Paul does not ascribe our justification to Spirit-wrought works of love but to faith, although Paul (and the rest of the NT) know of no person of faith who has not love.

  16. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I will respond in the morning.

  17. Nick,

    Huh?

    How so?

    God does it all, forgives us, in Christ Jesus, gives us faith through the Holy Spirit, keeps us in faith through Word and sacrament…and how, may I ask, does that refute the Incarnation?

  18. Jason,

    1. I do not understand the premises/conclusion you’ve made. However, I can see that this chapter begins with asking of whether or not “we” should remain in “sin” having been justified already. The answer of course is “we” should not remain in sin even though we have “peace” with God and have the “righteousness” of the Obedient One. It does not follow (non-sequitor) that just because Paul talks about living a new life in Christ in view of our “having been justified” that he now conflates the the two concepts. Surely he knows that we have been justified by faith (not works) so now he urges us that in view of that fact, we live out the declaration that has been made, i.e. live righteous holy lives not to gain justification but because you are already justified in Christ.

    2. So then, verse 7, using the verb “dedikaiotai” , is perfectly in line with Paul’s point. The one who died has been justified (perfect indicative) from sin. The perfect indicative indicates that the action is completed in the past time. Verse 7 then describes the person who died as being “justified from sin” not a person who is being justified or will be justified. Meaning, death here is the evidence or describes the “one” who has been justified from sin. The term need not distance from the usual meaning of acquittal, forgiveness or declaring free from the punitive and condemning power of sin. And therefore, the exegesis holds water in that Paul’s point is upheld. To wit, since you have been justified already, live in view of that completed declaration. This construal is far from conflating justification and sanctification.

    3. There’s another perspective we can look at on how verse 7 functions in the passage. We note that majority of the “persons” (aspect of the verbs) and pronouns used by Paul from verse 1 to 6 uses “we” — first person plural. But here comes verse 7 suddenly shifting the referent to a singular 3rd person — “the one” or “someone” as indicated in the verb. Therefore, a case can be made whereby this person is referring to Christ as the preliminary summary of vv 8-11. A parallel thought has been pointed out by Peter in 1 Peter 4:1 where Christ is the one who suffered in the flesh. The verb then takes “vindication” as the meaning. Even in this perspective, one can hardly see a conflation of justification and sanctification concepts.

    4. I could go on with other good perspective on how verse 7 can be accounted for without concluding that Paul blurs jsutification with sanctification concepts. Thus, it is not true that non-catholics do not inform their understanding of justification with this verse. That argument in the post can’t be sustained in light of the above.

    Regards,
    Joey

  19. Old Adam,

    Sanctified; to be made holy…set apart.
    Justified; to be made holy…set apart.
    It’s the same stuff. And God does them both.

    Welcome to Catholic soteriology. If you were Reformed/Lutheran, you would insist that justification is a forensic declaration that does not in fact “make one holy.” But it sounds like you have come to reject that idea.

    I know…I know…you want a hand in it. You just have to have a dog in this fight. Here’s a news flash; God doesn’t need your measly help. In actuality it is more of a hindrance to Him.

    That’s what I said to my daughter when she insisted on getting potty-trained: “Gosh, just because you’re alive and therefore want to do things necessary for your growth and flourishing as a human being doesn’t give you the right to threaten me by learning to do stuff by yourself.”

    Since we’re giving each other newsflashes, I’ll just remind you that God is not petty. The whole reason for his regenerating us and giving us life is that we act, and those Spirit-wrought actions don’t trespass on his turf or rob him of the credit he deserves. In fact, those actions glorify him even more.

  20. Old Adam,

    You originally said: “God doesn’t need your measly help. In actuality it is more of a hindrance to Him.”

    I responded by saying this kind of logic refutes the Incarnation. The reason is because God needed the Blessed Virgin’s womb for the first 9 months of Jesus life, as well as the parental nurturing and care for at least the next 5 years after birth. If God didn’t need our help and if it was a hindrance to Him, then the Father chose the worst possible way to exemplify this by making His Son a helpless infant needing ‘life support’ from a woman the first 5 years of his life and first 9 months after conception. Ponder that.

    The only alternative is to realize and admit that even though God didn’t need us at all, He none the less chose to have us cooperate with Him in his plan of salvation.

    This is why Protestantism unwittingly obliterates Christology, because Protestantism thinks soteriology precedes Christiology, and they subsequently force Christology to conform to their soteriology, which results in Christological errors. I don’t want to go off topic, but on the quest to make sure God doesn’t need our help, popular conservative Reformed pastor Thabiti was forced to come to the conclusion that “At 3 o’clock that dark Friday afternoon, the Father turned His face away and the ancient, eternal fellowship between Father and Son was broken as divine wrath rained down.” Soteriology preceding and dictating Christology.

  21. Robert,

    1. Jason, you’ve been hanging around the CTC guys too long as is evident by your dismissal of a lot of things with the phrase “begging the question.”

    You have been hanging around the Manson Family too long as is evident by the fact that you both write in English. Unsubstantiated guilt by association is fun, let’s keep doing this!

    2. More seriously, where is the serious action with the scores of Protestant commentaries that have been written on this verse? I know space is limited, but one of the deficiencies of these posts is the all-too-brief reference to “oh, the Protestant could say that, but doesn’t it make much more sense…” There really isn’t anything that you are saying that is new, so if you want to convince other Protestants, it seems to me that you need to interact with Calvin, Murray, Moo, Buchanan, Fesko, and even a Roman Catholic commenter like Joseph Fitzmeyer in more depth.

    This is a fair point, and I may digress and explore this a bit. But it would be a digression and somewhat off-topic, since I have been admitting all along (and in this very post) that my point is not that Protestants disagree with this or that verse, or that they cannot incorporate the passages I am adducing into their systems.

    3. At the point of faith, Protestants have long argued that we get a double benefit — the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness for our justification and the infusion of His grace for our sanctification. The latter is grounded in logical order upon the former, so it is not inconsistent for Protestants to insist on the traditional Protestant view of justification in light of this verse. Paul knows of no justified person who is not also being sanctified, as sanctification begins when justification is accomplished. Sin will not reign over those who have been justified because justification comes first, logically, and sanctification follows. In no sense can we look to this verse and say, “Well, since being justified from sin means that we are set free from sin’s power to do good works, our good works now mix in with the work of Christ to merit our justified status.” In fact, the perfect voice of the verb mitigates against it.

    I am not arguing that “our good works now mix in with the work of Christ to merit our justified status.” I am arguing that this passage does damage to the Reformed paradigm and would not have arisen from it, since by using justified as a synonym for sanctified Paul undoes the distinction between the two things that your paragraph above supposes. So the fact that Protestants “have long argued” for this neat process where the declaration of justification then sets in motion the ongoing process of sanctification is beside the point. I know you think this. My point is that Paul didn’t think this.

    4. Romans 6:7 comes on the heels of Romans 4, where Paul draws a clear contrast between working and receiving a gift. Once our works, Spirit-wrought or otherwise, are seen as contributing to our justification and making some kind of a claim upon God (and that is what Rome is saying, for they have had to invent all manner of condign/congruent merit distinctions to try and get around the obvious — merit is merit is merit), we aren’t receiving a gift but working.

    Here you’re just begging the question (!) by using as a major premise an interpretation of Rom. 4 that you know I don’t agree with. We spent a lot of time in Rom. 4, so why you would just present your contested interpretation of it as though it would be relevant is just kind of confusing.

    5. Go read book 3 of Calvin’s institutes on how works vis a vis eternal life can be spoken of in a sequential sense but not a causative sense. Romans 1–4 makes the latter impossible.

    I have read through Book III. Telling me to “go read Calvin” is not helpful, since it presumes that I don’t know the basics of Reformed soteriology. I think those basics are incorrect, and so far you have yet to present any argument in their favor that doesn’t assume what needs to be proven.

    6. Protestants are not “ignoring” large amounts of data. We just insist on going first to those passages where justification as how one is set right with God is addressed most clearly and then reading other passages in light of that. Reversing the process opens up one to all manner of errors. We start considering the deity of Christ by addressing John 1 and other clear revelations of his deity before looking at those passages that seem to refer to him as just a man. If we use the other passages as the basis for our doctrine, we miss everything.

    This is all completely question-begging, it’s hard to know where to start. Your entire process that you describe necessitates that you already hold to a strictly forensic view of justification (otherwise my methodology wouldn’t yield “errors,” it would yield truth). If you did not approach the NT with your paradigm at the forefront and instead just read all the passages that deal with justification explicitly or implicitly, you would come to different conclusions than the ones you now hold. But as you say, you don’t do that, but instead use the verses that you think bolster your position as filters through which to understand the ones that don’t. This is completely circular.

    7. Even a Roman Catholic commenter like Joseph Fitzmeyer says Paul “does not equate faith with love; nor does he ascribe to love what he does to faith (viz., justification, salvation), even though he recognizes the necessity of the two working in tandem. For Paul there cannot be any faith without accompanying love, that is to say, deeds that manifest that faith in the concern for God or for other human beings.” (Romans, p. 138). This is just what Luther, Calvin, et al have been saying all along. Paul does not ascribe our justification to Spirit-wrought works of love but to faith, although Paul (and the rest of the NT) know of no person of faith who has not love.

    This falls outside the scope of this post. In this post I am simply showing that the strict distinction between the forensic (justification) and the transformative (sanctification) is not a distinction that Paul held, or else he wouldn’t have used dikaioo language to describe sanctification and freedom from the power of sin in our lives.

  22. Joey,

    1. It does not follow (non-sequitor) that just because Paul talks about living a new life in Christ in view of our “having been justified” that he now conflates the two concepts. Surely he knows that we have been justified by faith (not works) so now he urges us that in view of that fact, we live out the declaration that has been made, i.e. live righteous holy lives not to gain justification but because you are already justified in Christ.

    I am not arguing that “just because Paul talks about living a new life in Christ in view of our ‘having been justified’ that he now conflates the two concepts.” I am arguing that since Paul calls dying to the dominion and power of sin “justification,” that therefore he was not operating from a paradigm that sharply distinguished that forensic and the transformative (or, justification from sanctification).

    2. So then, verse 7, using the verb “dedikaiotai” , is perfectly in line with Paul’s point. The one who died has been justified (perfect indicative) from sin. The perfect indicative indicates that the action is completed in the past time. Verse 7 then describes the person who died as being “justified from sin” not a person who is being justified or will be justified. Meaning, death here is the evidence or describes the “one” who has been justified from sin. The term need not distance from the usual meaning of acquittal, forgiveness or declaring free from the punitive and condemning power of sin. And therefore, the exegesis holds water in that Paul’s point is upheld. To wit, since you have been justified already, live in view of that completed declaration. This construal is far from conflating justification and sanctification.

    So you are saying that since Paul uses Greek tense for “justified” that roots the action in the past as a completed event, that therefore Paul cannot be conflating this with sanctification, which is ongoing? If I am correctly understanding you, then would you also apply this rule to our death to sin and our crucifixion of our old man (which are also spoken of as past events)? Merely showing that Paul speaks of our justification as a past event and therefore not identifiable with our ongoing sanctification proves too much, since it would thereby make sanctification a completed past event, which we all deny.

    3. There’s another perspective we can look at on how verse 7 functions in the passage. We note that majority of the “persons” (aspect of the verbs) and pronouns used by Paul from verse 1 to 6 uses “we” — first person plural. But here comes verse 7 suddenly shifting the referent to a singular 3rd person — “the one” or “someone” as indicated in the verb. Therefore, a case can be made whereby this person is referring to Christ as the preliminary summary of vv 8-11. A parallel thought has been pointed out by Peter in 1 Peter 4:1 where Christ is the one who suffered in the flesh. The verb then takes “vindication” as the meaning. Even in this perspective, one can hardly see a conflation of justification and sanctification concepts.

    I fail to see how it can be said that Jesus’ death was his vindication from sin. We do know that he was vindicated in the Spirit through the resurrection, but it seems to me that the whole reason he needed that vindication is precisely because of what his shameful death seemed to be saying, namely, that he was not the Messiah but simply a sinner condemned along with the two thieves (which is certainly how the disciples on the Emmaus Road interpreted the crucifixion). In a word, his death was the reason why vindication was needed, and not the vindication itself.

    4. I could go on with other good perspective on how verse 7 can be accounted for without concluding that Paul blurs jsutification with sanctification concepts. Thus, it is not true that non-catholics do not inform their understanding of justification with this verse. That argument in the post can’t be sustained in light of the above.

    My argument is most certainly sustained. I have shown that Paul’s use of “justified” in v. 7 is parallel and synonymous with all the other results of our death to sin in vv. 1-6, and yet despite this, Reformed theology does not acknowledge that justification involves our dying to sin and walking in newness of life. In short, you define justification in such a way as to need desperately to escape the plain meaning of Rom. 6:7.

  23. Jason–

    You just told Joey that “In short, you define justification in such a way as to need desperately to escape the plain meaning of Rom. 6:7.”

    Do your ears hear what your mouth is speaking? These verses display quintessential Reformed theology. Dead to sin…alive to Christ.

    Instead, you put it this way:

    “The word that most modern translations render as “set free” is the perfect passive form of the Greek word dikaioo, to justify. The question that arises should be obvious: “Why would Protestants not allow this usage of dikaioo to inform their theological understanding of justification?” If they were to do so, then justification would be seen to include sanctification and our being freed from the power of sin.”

    But the verses do not speak of “being” freed from sin! They speak of “having been freed from sin”–in other words, of “having been justified.” As you yourself point out, this is in the perfect tense, so it is a past event…something already accomplished!

  24. The perfect tense describes a past event with ongoing ramifications, so we “have been” justified from sin, meaning that this is something whose significance is ongoing.

    But this is all beside the point. The point is that Paul understands justification to include things that Reformed theology insists must be associated with sanctification. Justification is transformative. It includes the putting to death of the old man and the walking in that reality.

    The claim I am making goes far beyond the “two sides of the same coin” position that the Reformed advocate.

  25. Jason,

    1. You said: “I am arguing that since Paul calls dying to the dominion and power of sin “justification,” that therefore he was not operating from a paradigm that sharply distinguished that forensic and the transformative (or, justification from sanctification)”

    However, this has been challenged both in the context and grammar of the passage under review. The text did not say that “dying to the dominion and power of sin” is justification nor sanctification. That’s an interpretation of the text that has been challenged. In fact, several good and logical interpretation has been forwarded already based on the grammar and context.

    2. Note that our dying in the passage is in the aorist tense. Although we can deduce that this happened in the past time because it is in the indicative, it does not tell us whether it is completed. It only gives us a snapshot that it happened from the perspective of the readers but does not tell us about its completion. The verb “dedikaiotai” however indicates completion being in the perfect indicative. Therefore, the interpretation holds water wereby Paul calls those who “have been justified” to continue to live holy lives. The dying couldn’t be a completed event as Paul calls his readers how this dying should be lived out in verbs indicating the present imperative (e.g. regard yourselves dead to sin (v.11), do not let sin reign (v. 12), do not present your members to sin (v. 13a), present yourselves to God (v. 13b)). All the verbs pointing to the concept of “dying to sin” is in the present imperative. Thus, again, based on the context and grammar, we are compelled to deduce that “having been justified” which is in the perfect indicative passive (completed past and something done to us rather than something we do (active)) is different from the concept of dying to sin (verbs which are in the present imperative active)).

    3. On the other perspective, you rebutted, “I fail to see how it can be said that Jesus’ death was his vindication from sin. We do know that he was vindicated in the Spirit through the resurrection…” However, this is a strawman as no argument was forwarded in this manner. If the 3rd person described is Christ and if verse 7 is a parenthetical sentence as many scholars argued, then that “someone” who died is described as a person vindicated from sin or has dealt with sin. Death is not the means of his vindication but his resurrection as verse 8-9 affirms. So, even this interpretation has a lot of merit if the only rebuttal is what you’ve presented here.

    4. Therefore, this statement — “In short, you define justification in such a way as to need desperately to escape the plain meaning of Rom. 6:7” — should be ignored. It is best that whoever is reading our responses judge who is desperately escaping the plain meaning of the text.

    Regards,
    Joey

  26. Jason,

    A side comment, which will be my last:

    “The perfect tense describes a past event with ongoing ramifications, so we “have been” justified from sin, meaning that this is something whose significance is ongoing.”

    – Yes, the perfect tense is a past event but note that it indicates a completed past event. Furthermore, it is in the passive. The person received the action rather than doing the action.

    “But this is all beside the point. The point is that Paul understands justification to include things that Reformed theology insists must be associated with sanctification. Justification is transformative. It includes the putting to death of the old man and the walking in that reality.”

    – But the grammatical construction is the point of exegesis. We can’t conclude that Paul understands justification to include things associated with sanctification without exegetical basis. In reality, it is the reformed who wrestles with the text and systematizes it accordingly. An action done to us which is completed is not the the same as an action that we should do continually. Further the action done to us which is completed served as the ground and basis of the imperative commands in which we should continually do. If one doesn’t see the logical difference between the two actions, then all effort has been exhausted and there is nothing more to explain.

    Regards,
    Joey

  27. Jason–

    I won’t press it too far, but though the perfect tense in Greek signifies a “past event with ongoing ramifications,” those ongoing ramifications are not further actions. It is an action completed in the past which has significance for the present. Romans 6:7 states clearly that we have been justified and not that we are being justified.

    Jesus’ cry from the cross–“It is finished” [tetelestai]–is in the perfect tense. His was an action, completed in the past, with present and ongoing significance. But it was most emphatically finished, once and for all. It is not being finished!

    As I have already said, “Yes, I agree, the biblical term ‘justification’ is declarative and transformative.” But that is not what the Reformed are speaking of when they speak of justification. Roman Catholics also separate initial justification and progressive justification even though they are covered by the same term in Scripture. Reformed “justification” is just an initial justification that sticks. (Sanctification is just progressive justification. It is not contributory because there is no need. Our final justification has already been taken care of.)

  28. Joey,

    1. You said: “I am arguing that since Paul calls dying to the dominion and power of sin “justification,” that therefore he was not operating from a paradigm that sharply distinguished that forensic and the transformative (or, justification from sanctification)”

    However, this has been challenged both in the context and grammar of the passage under review. The text did not say that “dying to the dominion and power of sin” is justification nor sanctification. That’s an interpretation of the text that has been challenged. In fact, several good and logical interpretation has been forwarded already based on the grammar and context.

    You put forth some objections which I answered. It’s hard for me to know what you’re referring to here unless you actually cite my response and then rebut it.

    2. … Paul calls those who “have been justified” to continue to live holy lives. The dying couldn’t be a completed event as Paul calls his readers how this dying should be lived out in verbs indicating the present imperative (e.g. regard yourselves dead to sin (v.11), do not let sin reign (v. 12), do not present your members to sin (v. 13a), present yourselves to God (v. 13b)). All the verbs pointing to the concept of “dying to sin” is in the present imperative. Thus, again, based on the context and grammar, we are compelled to deduce that “having been justified” which is in the perfect indicative passive (completed past and something done to us rather than something we do (active)) is different from the concept of dying to sin (verbs which are in the present imperative active)).

    Your argument seems to be (and I admit, I find this paragraph somewhat confusing [what does “Paul calls his readers how…” mean?]) that since our “dying” to sin is in the aorist and the instructions flowing from that death are present imperatives, that therefore there’s an ongoing significance to that death that cannot be attributed to our being “justified” from sin since that verb is in the perfect tense. Have I got that right? If so, I fail to see how you are making your point, since we all know that verbs in the perfect tense are precisely what you seem to be saying this one isn’t, namely, past actions that have perpetual significance. Any Greek grammar will confirm this (Baugh, Mounce, Wallace, etc.).

    I think you are making too much out of the verb tenses anyway. Paul’s point is simply that we have died with Christ through baptism, and those who have experienced that death are united to the now-risen Christ, which is why we can walk in newness of life. We have died, the old man has been crucified, both of which are simple past events (which is all the aorist tense means) with ongoing significance (because of the present imperatives, as you point out). Then after saying all this, Paul says, “He who has died [with Christ in baptism] is justified/freed from sin.” Paul is using dedikaiotai to mean being liberated from sin’s power over our everyday lives. Being liberated from sin’s power over our everyday lives is precisely what sanctification is. Therefore, Paul is using the word “justified” to denote sanctification.

    3. On the other perspective, you rebutted, “I fail to see how it can be said that Jesus’ death was his vindication from sin. We do know that he was vindicated in the Spirit through the resurrection…” However, this is a strawman as no argument was forwarded in this manner. If the 3rd person described is Christ and if verse 7 is a parenthetical sentence as many scholars argued, then that “someone” who died is described as a person vindicated from sin or has dealt with sin. Death is not the means of his vindication but his resurrection as verse 8-9 affirms. So, even this interpretation has a lot of merit if the only rebuttal is what you’ve presented here.

    If I rebutted a strawman, forgive me. I didn’t have much to go on, and perhaps I just failed to understand your point. And I still don’t really understand you. What does it mean that “that ‘someone’ who died is described as a person vindicated from sin or has dealt with sin”? How can it be said that “Christ, who died, is justified from sin” means either that “Christ, who died, is vindicated from sin” or that “Christ, who died, has dealt with sin”? I am honestly asking, as I really don’t know what you’re talking about here.

    4. Therefore, this statement — “In short, you define justification in such a way as to need desperately to escape the plain meaning of Rom. 6:7? — should be ignored. It is best that whoever is reading our responses judge who is desperately escaping the plain meaning of the text.

    I admit, I am having a hard enough time discerning the plain meaning of your comments! Maybe it’s because it’s late. It just seems to me that it’s so much simpler to read Paul as saying that dedikaiotai means having been set free from sin’s dominion in our lives, which, if true, perfectly establishes my position. Moreover, it seems like the only reason to deny something so obvious is because you are bringing to the text a definition of justification that says it is a once-for-all declaration, which definition only makes sense when you refuse to incorporate this passage, as well as Jesus’ and James’s usage of the word (not to mention the concept).

    And all the appeals in the world to Greek tenses doesn’t make that approach any more natural, or any less forced.

  29. Jason,

    I know you are a seminary graduate and perhaps read papers more technical than what I’ve put forward. I know it’s not hard to understand the tenses presented. I’ll let others judge whether the argument I put forward is not understandable. Simply put, you are dealing with a verb that is already perfect and passive which can not be justly attributed to the concept of sanctification (present and active). Let me ask you, are you completely free from the power of sin? Do you live a life that is perfectly sinless? If your interpretation of the passage is the plainest meaning then all the present imperative commands of Paul and his discussion on the war going on in Romans 7 makes no sense. Why the need of the imperatives if it is stated as a fact (indicative) that we have been set free from the power of sin (a completed action done to us not by us)?

    If we let the grammar and context speak, you’ll see the point is simple and not forced. Believers have been justified (perfect indicative passive) so we should not continue living in sin and live holy lives (present imperative active). One deals with a finished action (justification, something done to us (passive)) the other is dealing with an on-going action which is to be lived out and won by the power of the Spirit (sanctification, something we should do (active)). The systematic deduction of the reformed is not in any way assailed in this passage. Rather, the context and grammar warrants such systematization.

    As a side note, you argued that the perfect tense denotes perpetual significance. Sure it does! However, it does not mean that the perpetuity of the significance implies an incomplete action. We are not in the process of being “justified” (imperfect tense). Rather, we have been justified (perfect tense). The ramifications of course of that completed action will continue till eternity. Even in this life, Paul has laid out the perpetual significance of that completed event: Since you “have been justified”, you are commanded to walk holy lives. That walking is not our justification since it justification is a completed event at the time we are commanded to walk. It is rather the ramification or the effect (the perpetual significance) of having been justified.

    Regards,
    Joey

  30. Jason,

    I have read through Book III. Telling me to “go read Calvin” is not helpful, since it presumes that I don’t know the basics of Reformed soteriology. I think those basics are incorrect, and so far you have yet to present any argument in their favor that doesn’t assume what needs to be proven.

    This is all completely question-begging, it’s hard to know where to start. Your entire process that you describe necessitates that you already hold to a strictly forensic view of justification (otherwise my methodology wouldn’t yield “errors,” it would yield truth). If you did not approach the NT with your paradigm at the forefront and instead just read all the passages that deal with justification explicitly or implicitly, you would come to different conclusions than the ones you now hold. But as you say, you don’t do that, but instead use the verses that you think bolster your position as filters through which to understand the ones that don’t. This is completely circular.

    This is a ridiculous assertion. How do you know which passages deal with justification implicitly unless you already know what passages address it explicitly? I could just as well accuse you of coming to Scripture with the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification and then finding any passage you can to support it.

    As far as assuming what needs to be proven, that is what you are doing again and again and again in these posts. Your fundamental argument is “if the biblical writers thought x, they never would have written y.” That statement is full of all manner of unproven assumptions.

    It’s not circular to go first to passages that address the subject most explicitly and then build one’s doctrine from there. We HAVE to do that. And that is what even the Roman church does on many matters, except for justification, of course. Given the regularity with which the Old Testament speaks of other gods, it would be easy to be a polytheist if you don’t start with the clearest and most unambiguous statements about the nature of God and build the doctrine of monotheism from there before considering how the verses relating to other gods fit in. Based on your line of reasoning, I could say “If you did not approach the Bible with your paradigm of monotheism at the forefront and instead just read all the passages that deal with monotheism and polytheism explicitly or implicitly, you would come to different conclusions than the ones you now hold.” Is that not what the Mormons do?

  31. Joey,

    I wrote, “But this is all beside the point. The point is that Paul understands justification to include things that Reformed theology insists must be associated with sanctification. Justification is transformative. It includes the putting to death of the old man and the walking in that reality.” You responded:

    But the grammatical construction is the point of exegesis. We can’t conclude that Paul understands justification to include things associated with sanctification without exegetical basis.

    Do you consider exegesis as nothing more than citing verb tenses? My guess would be “no,” but then, why do you dismiss everything I have said as having no exegetical basis? As those who know Greek often find themselves disappointed to discover, more often than not what it says in the English is pretty much exactly what was written in the Greek. This means that exegesis consists of more than just parsing verbs, but it also includes analyzing the arguments themselves. I think it was in my first comment to you that I did this, to which I would refer you back.

    In reality, it is the reformed who wrestles with the text and systematizes it accordingly. An action done to us which is completed is not the the same as an action that we should do continually.

    No one said that “being justified/set free from sin” is an action we must do continually, so I have no idea who you’re dialoguing with here. What I said (a few times) was that the verb is in the perfect tense, which always denotes a past event with ongoing ramifications.

    Further the action done to us which is completed served as the ground and basis of the imperative commands in which we should continually do. If one doesn’t see the logical difference between the two actions, then all effort has been exhausted and there is nothing more to explain.

    All you’re doing here is changing the subject and ignoring my point, and then throwing up your hands in exasperation at my inability to track with you (which I find a tad exasperating myself, to be honest). I have repeated my actual point so many times now that it’s getting tedious. I’ll do it once more, though, with some added nuance to take into account your points about the verb tenses:

    Paul’s argument in Rom. 6 is that we have died with Christ (in baptism), and that co-crucifixion with Christ results in truths about us that the Reformed associate with sanctification. One of those is our having been justified/set free from sin. Now, this justification from sin is a past event with ongoing significance, and it is the ongoing significance that Paul is concerned with. If he had simply meant Reformed forensic justification by dedikaiotai he could have used the aorist tense to communicate a simple past event, thus: “He who has died was previously justified [once-for-all in the court room of heaven].” Instead, he uses the perfect: “He who has died [with Christ in baptism] is freed from the power of sin [in his daily life].” This latter gloss fits exactly with Paul’s point in this chapter, and it also happens to prove my point perfectly, since it has Paul using dikaioo language to speak of transformative, ongoing realities.

  32. Robert,

    I wrote, “I have read through Book III. Telling me to “go read Calvin” is not helpful, since it presumes that I don’t know the basics of Reformed soteriology. I think those basics are incorrect, and so far you have yet to present any argument in their favor that doesn’t assume what needs to be proven.

    “This is all completely question-begging, it’s hard to know where to start. Your entire process that you describe necessitates that you already hold to a strictly forensic view of justification (otherwise my methodology wouldn’t yield “errors,” it would yield truth). If you did not approach the NT with your paradigm at the forefront and instead just read all the passages that deal with justification explicitly or implicitly, you would come to different conclusions than the ones you now hold. But as you say, you don’t do that, but instead use the verses that you think bolster your position as filters through which to understand the ones that don’t. This is completely circular.” You responded:

    This is a ridiculous assertion. How do you know which passages deal with justification implicitly unless you already know what passages address it explicitly?

    The passages that contain the word “justification” are the ones that deal with justification explicitly, and the ones that speak of sinners being saved and receiving eternal life on judgment day are the ones that deal with justification implicitly. I made this argument in the “Every Idle Word” post, and I linked to it in the post you’re responding to now. Rather than waving off what I say and calling it “ridiculous,” you should slow down and consider that I may actually be building upon something I have already said several times.

    As far as assuming what needs to be proven, that is what you are doing again and again and again in these posts. Your fundamental argument is “if the biblical writers thought x, they never would have written y.” That statement is full of all manner of unproven assumptions.

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between an assumption and an argument, which is why you charge me with making assumptions simply because you are unconvinced by what I am saying. I am making arguments about the likelihood of, say, Jesus or Paul having a Reformed paradigm and then teaching that we will be justified by the things we do. Just because you disagree with the argument doesn’t mean that the argument doesn’t exist.

    It’s not circular to go first to passages that address the subject most explicitly and then build one’s doctrine from there. We HAVE to do that.

    Fine. But what you fail to realize is that the list of “Most Explicit Passages on Justification” is compiled in a way that is not itself neutral. This is why you use Rom. 4 and Gal. 2-3 to figure out what justifications is, and then filter Matt. 12, Jas. 2, and Rom. 2 and 6 through those supposedly more explicit texts. This is completely ad hoc and arbitrary.

    What wouldn’t be arbitrary, though, is finding the texts that use the word “justification” in a soteriological way and letting them count by including them on the “Most Explicit Passages” list. But you don’t do that. Instead you pick a handful of texts from a small selection of NT books that speak of one aspect of justification, and then filter all the other usages through that truncated definition, the result of which is a doctrine of justification that has more verses that are exceptions than ones that comprise the rule.

  33. This is just food for thought for another time, but everyone must admit the term dikaioo need not appear when equivalent terms such as “saved” (clearly in the context of justification) are used. For example:

    (i) Acts 15:9,11 is about the Gentiles accepting the Gospel and parallels “cleansed their heart by faith” to “saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.”

    (ii) Ephesians 2:5,8 says “when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” and defines this as “by grace you have been saved”

    (iii) 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth

    (iv) Titus 3:5 says: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” – Paul parallels this to justification in v7

    These passages frame “saved” (i.e. “justified”) in terms of an inner transformation of the soul.

    Other texts that do not use “saved” or “justified” still strongly convey a “justified” message by using phrases such as “forgiveness of sins,” for example:

    (1) Acts 26:18 says “open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

    (2) Col 2:11ff says, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,”

    (3) Acts 2:38 says “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    (4) 1 John 1:7,9 says “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    These texts also give off an inner transformation impression, and I think it would be seriously stretching things to suggest “forgiveness of sins” was not a forensic category and thus speaking of Justification.

    And then there are texts that are speaking of justification but use other terminology besides forgive/save, for example:

    (a) Philippians 3:3, 9-11 says the “the righteousness from God that depends on faith” is to be understood as “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”

    (b) 1 Peter 2:24 says “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

    Again, this frames what is clearly justification in terms of an inner transformation.

    If there was a sharp distinction between Justification and Sanctification, I don’t think the NT would speak like this at all.

    This is only a list, not to discuss individual passages at this time

  34. I do think this is helpful, Nick. It seems to me to be pretty reasonable to insist that all passages that mention justification in a soteriological context should be considered “the explicit texts,” and passages that speak of sinners being saved and receiving eternal life on the last day should be considered “the implicit texts.” Then, once those lists are compiled, we deduce our doctrine of justification.

    How can such an approach be objectionable? This is precisely what systematic theology is.

  35. Jason–

    I need a little clarification from you (partly because you chose not to respond to my last post on the “boasting” thread). What do you mean by these words you addressed to Joey?

    “I am making arguments about the likelihood of, say, Jesus or Paul having a Reformed paradigm and then teaching that we will be justified by the things we do.”

    If you honestly believe that Jesus or Paul taught that we would be justified by the things that we do, you are self-condemned. We won’t need to parse these things out further. I can only assume you were speaking a bit loosely.

    If our good works are Spirit-wrought as you claim, how are they then also self-wrought? If our partially sanctified wills can choose to leave the faith, then such partially sanctified wills can choose to remain (and thus effect their own salvation). If, on the other hand, it is a fully sanctified will that is choosing to remain, how can such a fully sanctified will choose to leave? (I’m guessing you will go with the second option: within RC sanctifying grace, we move from perfection to further perfection, from being fully sanctified to being more fully sanctified. I can fit that in with the Reformed paradigm, but such a fully sanctified person cannot logically choose to leave.)

  36. Comment

  37. Eric,

    I need a little clarification from you (partly because you chose not to respond to my last post on the “boasting” thread).

    Or maybe I didn’t see your comment? Or I just forgot to respond because I have other things going on?

    What do you mean by these words you addressed to Joey? “I am making arguments about the likelihood of, say, Jesus or Paul having a Reformed paradigm and then teaching that we will be justified by the things we do.”

    If you honestly believe that Jesus or Paul taught that we would be justified by the things that we do, you are self-condemned. We won’t need to parse these things out further. I can only assume you were speaking a bit loosely.

    I was only speaking as loosely as Jesus and Paul, who said “by your words you will be justified,” and “the doers of the law will be justified.” Now I realize those are contested statements, but the reason they are so hotly contested is because of what they actually say, or seem to say. My point was simply to point out that no one with a paradigm that said that our works contribute nothing to our justification, and that only Christ’s works do, would say such seemingly contradictory things as those.

    If our good works are Spirit-wrought as you claim, how are they then also self-wrought?

    In the same way that Jesus was both God and Man, and his divine nature did not destroy his human nature, but perfectly united with it in a single hypostasis. Grace perfects nature, it doesn’t destroy it or render it inoperative. So when we become new creations in Christ and refashioned in his image, the Spirit works through us without bypassing us. This is why Paul could say, “God’s grace toward me was not in vain, for I worked harder than anyone else (although it was not me, but God’s grace within me).” Just as the Spirit is the soul of the mystical Body of Christ, so the Spirit is the operating agent within us, quickening us to new obedience and new life.

  38. Nick–

    Just to clarify: Thabiti Anyabwile, though a fine, fine man, does not get to define Reformed orthodoxy. (And giving him the benefit of the doubt, he was probably speaking in some sense metaphorically.)

    Christ’s divinity did not come into existence at his Incarnation. (He is, after all, co-eternal with the Father…which is why the Greek theotokos [God-bearer] is a more accurate term than the Latin mater dei [Mother of God]. Mary is his mother “according to the manhood” in the Chalcedonian Definition.)

    Neither did Christ’s divinity die on the cross (divinity is immortal). His eternal fellowship with the Father remained unbroken. God rained down his wrath not on his Son, but on the sin he bore. Israelite priests were not to be angry with the animals they slaughtered.

    But these are technicalities. In some sense, the Father turned his face away, not being able to look on sin. And Jesus surely expressed a sense of forsakenness upon the cross. To admit to such does not dilute the purity of one’s soteriology.

  39. Hello Jason,

    1. You said, “No one said that “being justified/set free from sin” is an action we must do continually, so I have no idea who you’re dialoguing with here.”

    -I have never attributed that argument to anyone. However, the theological concept of sanctification implies an imperfect state in which the believer continually and willingly do under the sovereign power of God until death. If “being justified from sin” means this is an action that we are not continually doing, but an action that was done to us not performed together with us, then the concept of sanctification will not fit in this verb (phrase).

    2. You said: “What I said (a few times) was that the verb is in the perfect tense, which always denotes a past event with ongoing ramifications.”

    -Note that, it is a COMPLETED past event. This is a feature of the perfect tense that doesn’t fit with the concept of sanctification being an on going process. Further, the verb is in the passive which again tells us that it is an action done to us not an action done by us (or together with us). That feature again runs in contrast with the concept of sanctification.

    3. You said: “If he had simply meant Reformed forensic justification by dedikaiotai he could have used the aorist tense to communicate a simple past event, thus: “He who has died was previously justified [once-for-all in the court room of heaven].” Instead, he uses the perfect: “He who has died [with Christ in baptism] is freed from the power of sin [in his daily life].”

    – The perfect tense is used rarely in the NT and when this is used there is a deliberate choice on the part of the writer (as Daniel Wallace puts it). Paul uses here the perfect indicative because of the emphasis of the completedness of the action in the past as well as the effect of that completed act towards the believer. The aorist tense doesn’t convey this feature. In fact, one of the basic errors by students is to conclude that the aorist is always a past event and “once-for-all” event. Simply, this is not the case with the aorist. You might want to review your Greek grammar on this (I am not in any way insulting you by writing this sentence. I am rather allowing you to look at the evidence). The aorist simply left the “on-goingness” or “completion” of the event unstated. Other data will have to be given inorder to arrive at that conclusion but not using the aorist tense as the ground of that conclusion. The aorist is not concerned with time (past, present, future). With that, the perfect tense has been chosen to emphasize that the verb is completed and therefore we add nothing to it. We do not increase it’s completion. “Since you have beeen justified” (perfect indicative passive), now live out this fact with sanctified lives (present imperative active).

    May the Word of God be your ultimate criterion in finding the truth.

    Regards,
    Joey

  40. Jason–

    Sorry, I had not meant to impugn your motivations for inaction. It was intended as a simple observation. Not that I would mind a response at some point…as you have leisure.

    1. The Reformed do not say that good works provide no contribution to the process of salvation as a whole. If we restrict ourselves to the biblical text, therefore, I can say with you that they do indeed contribute to our “justification.” In this dialogue it would be helpful if every time you employ the term “justification,” you would qualify it. Works contribute to justification (in the Catholic sense) but not to justification (in the Protestant sense). Justification, in the Protestant sense is more akin to Catholic “initial justification” or perhaps, “sanctifying grace.”

    In your opinion, do your works contribute to your initial justification? [I believe you will–or at least should–answer in the negative.) Do your works contribute to “sanctifying grace”? [Again, since this is something supplied by God, my guess is that you must answer “no.”] On the other hand, do your works interact with these concepts? [Why, yes, I do believe you would say that they do.]

    If it is your conviction that the Holy Spirit supplies the cooperative grace necessary for our regenerate selves to function AND is the “operative agent” within us, enabling and facilitating our very cooperation with that grace, then you are not saying anything different from the Reformed as regards our works.

  41. Here’s a little ‘theology of the cross’ talk, that is not bound by Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic, or Evangelical:

    http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/if-you-would-gain-your-life.mp3

    It’s only 11 min. in duration…but it is worth it.

  42. Joey,

    … the theological concept of sanctification implies an imperfect state in which the believer continually and willingly do under the sovereign power of God until death. If “being justified from sin” means this is an action that we are not continually doing, but an action that was done to us not performed together with us, then the concept of sanctification will not fit in this verb (phrase).

    First, you are defining sanctification under the Reformed rubric. Catholics believe that our progression in this life is “from grace to grace,” or “from one degree of perfection to another.” If we have sanctifying grace and agape, we are righteous, period.

    Second, you can’t define a term simply from its Greek tense and voice. Paul is speaking in Rom. 6:7 about being set free from the power of sin (which is why every translation renders it the way they do). Even if he is saying that we have been liberated from sin’s dominion and continue to walk in that reality (which he is), it still does no damage to my case that dikaioo is being used to describe that freedom from sin’s power, or, sanctification.

    You said: “What I said (a few times) was that the verb is in the perfect tense, which always denotes a past event with ongoing ramifications.”

    Note that, it is a COMPLETED past event. This is a feature of the perfect tense that doesn’t fit with the concept of sanctification being an on going process. Further, the verb is in the passive which again tells us that it is an action done to us not an action done by us (or together with us). That feature again runs in contrast with the concept of sanctification.

    Do you believe in definitive sanctification, or do you believe it is only progressive? Is there no sense in which we “have been sanctified,” or are we only “being sanctified”? Even though it is in the aorist, does not Heb. 10:29 say that we “were sanctified” by the blood of the covenant? If I am following your argument—that sanctification cannot be in view in Rom. 6:7 since the verb tense indicates that he is talking about a completed past event—then how does Heb. 10:29 not undo that idea? As I said, there the writer actually uses the verb hagiazo (to sanctify), and he uses in the aorist (which has even less significance for the present than the perfect tense does).

    You said: “If he had simply meant Reformed forensic justification by dedikaiotai he could have used the aorist tense to communicate a simple past event, thus: “He who has died was previously justified [once-for-all in the court room of heaven].” Instead, he uses the perfect: “He who has died [with Christ in baptism] is freed from the power of sin [in his daily life].”

    The perfect tense is used rarely in the NT and when this is used there is a deliberate choice on the part of the writer (as Daniel Wallace puts it). Paul uses here the perfect indicative because of the emphasis of the completedness of the action in the past as well as the effect of that completed act towards the believer. The aorist tense doesn’t convey this feature. In fact, one of the basic errors by students is to conclude that the aorist is always a past event and “once-for-all” event. Simply, this is not the case with the aorist. You might want to review your Greek grammar on this (I am not in any way insulting you by writing this sentence. I am rather allowing you to look at the evidence). The aorist simply left the “on-goingness” or “completion” of the event unstated. Other data will have to be given inorder to arrive at that conclusion but not using the aorist tense as the ground of that conclusion. The aorist is not concerned with time (past, present, future).

    I am aware that the aorist does not necessarily convey a once-for-all event (which is why I used the phrase “a simple past event” (which is what the aorist usually conveys). When I later I used “once-for-all” in brackets I did so because if Paul had used the aorist of dikaioo to denote Protestant justification, you would in fact interpret it to mean once-for-all in that case.

    With that, the perfect tense has been chosen to emphasize that the verb is completed and therefore we add nothing to it. We do not increase it’s completion. “Since you have beeen justified” (perfect indicative passive), now live out this fact with sanctified lives (present imperative active).

    Again, I think you are making WAY too much out of the verb tenses, virtually defining terms according to that criterion alone. Every single thing Paul has to say in Rom. 6 is about sanctification and our being set free from the power of sin in our lives. Every single translation renders dedikaiotai in v. 7 as “set free” and not “justified” because they understand that this, and not a forensic declaration of acquittal, is what Paul is talking about. Do you disagree with them?

    Now if, for the sake of argument, Paul is speaking about sanctification in v. 7, there is nothing wrong with his using the prefect tense to do so. On the cross Jesus broke the bonds of hell and disarmed principalities and powers. When we were baptized we were united with him and those realities, already accomplished, became our own realities. But those realities need to be walked in by us daily, which the prefect tense perfectly communicates.

    Joey, this will be my last word on this particular issue. From where I sit, you have said absolutely nothing to dismantle the idea that Paul is speaking of sanctification in Rom. 6 (with which absolutely no Reformed commentaries disagree), that in v. 7 he really uses dikaioo language to speak of being set free from the power of sin, which we call sanctification, and that the perfect tense is a perfectly useful way to do this. I’ll give you the last word, if you like. Then let’s drop it.

    May the Word of God be your ultimate criterion in finding the truth.

    Ha ha. Alrighty then.

  43. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for the conversation again. Here I would like to answer some questions you’ve raised in your last post.

    1. Every single translation renders dedikaiotai in v. 7 as “set free” and not “justified” because they understand that this, and not a forensic declaration of acquittal, is what Paul is talking about. Do you disagree with them?

    -I am aware how the verse is translated in the English versions. However, just because the word is translated “free” that it follows that these scholars understand this as not referring to a forensic declaration or acquital. Most of our good translations actually leads the reader on the proper perspective on how that word functions in the sentence by footnoting the relevance. If I were to survey the major Catholic English Bibles, would I be justified to say that they interpret Romans 6:7 the way I do simply because the Douay-Rheims used the word “justified”, the NAB translated it as “has been absolved from sin”, the New Jerusalem Bible says “no longer has to answer to sin” — translations which seems to be vague enough about the interpretation which says “free from the dominion or power of sin”.

    2. Do you believe in definitive sanctification, or do you believe it is only progressive? Is there no sense in which we “have been sanctified,” or are we only “being sanctified”? Even though it is in the aorist, does not Heb. 10:29 say that we “were sanctified” by the blood of the covenant? If I am following your argument—that sanctification cannot be in view in Rom. 6:7 since the verb tense indicates that he is talking about a completed past event—then how does Heb. 10:29 not undo that idea?

    – Theological concepts of definitive and progressive sanctification are part of the systematic theology books I use. I can see that the exegitical warrants for having these concepts and believe they are justly grounded. Now, Hebrews 10:29 uses the verb “hegiasthe” an aorist indicative. The aorist tense in itself does not tell us about the “duration” of this event. The timeframe is left unstated. It only tells us that from the perspective of the narrator he saw a snapshot of the event (perhaps past event as the aorist indicative denote) but does not tell us about the completeness of the event. Other grounds has to be appealed to to argue that the action has been completed but not on the basis of the aorist tense.

    So, thank you for interacting with me on this point. I’ll let the readers decide whether I did not dismantle your thesis on the basis of the grammar and context of the text under review.

    Regards,
    Joey

  44. Jason–

    Catholics may maintain that within sanctifying grace one goes from “one degree of perfection to another” only if, in some sense, justification is positional. It would be a rather easy thing to demonstrate that some Protestant “saints” are far more inherently righteous than some Catholic saints, not to mention rank and file members pronounced to be in a state of grace. Most of us know devout Catholics–having confessed, having obediently undergone penance, having been absolved–who are nonetheless anything but perfect (in any degree whatsoever). The same can be said for the Reformed, but we don’t claim inherent perfection. Our perfection is positional. Our status has changed. Our glorification has been secured. It is, in some sense, in the eyes of God, “already” here…but it is also, in another sense, “not yet” here, held off in future hope.

    I don’t think you can logically hold to a justification that is not, in some sense, forensic without doing away with the concept of union with Christ (and without jettisoning the concepts of initial justification and sanctifying grace).

  45. Jason–

    You have a funny way of reading Reformed commentaries to get them to agree with you.

    Granted, they do tend to say that “justified” [dedikaiotai] is more that just forensic (that it includes a freedom over the power of sin [i.e., sanctification]), but that is what one would expect within the Reformed paradigm: the two go hand in glove; they are the twin gifts of union with Christ.

    Schreiner declares that dedikaiotai is not merely forensic in verse seven.

    Moo (who self-identifies as Reformed, but who is idiosyncratic in that identification) says of Romans 6:2-6 that “Paul’s language throughout is forensic, or positional; by God’s act, we have been placed in a new position. This position is real, for what exists in God’s sight is surely (ultimately) real, and it carries definite consequences for day-to-day living. But it is status, or power structure, that Paul is talking about here.”

    He mulls over several possibilities for verse seven, including the forensic, but in the end opts for “being set free from the power of sin” because otherwise verse seven would merely repeat the thesis of verse six rather than being a corollary to it.

    Jimmy Dunn (who as a card-carrying member of the NPP troupe is not exactly Reformed) states that dedikaiotai should be translated as “declared free from responsibility in relationship to sin” or as “no longer [having] to answer for sin.” Clearly, a forensic interpretation.

    And Joseph Fitzmyer, well-known Jesuit theologian, writing under the nihil obstat, declares that verse seven may be taken in one of two ways: either it is to be taken forensically, in that “from the standpoint of the law a dead person is absolved or acquitted, since sin no longer has a claim or a case against him or her” or else it is to be taken as “the one who has died has lost the very means of sinning” [i.e., he or she has been set free from the power of sin]. He does not declare for one option over the other. In fact, he states that “[i]n either case, a change of status has ensued; the old condition has been brought to an end in the baptism-death, and a new one has begun.”

  46. The Old Adam (or Adam or Old Adam or “Steve”):

    I listened to the little talk you posted. Who is the speaker? (Or are you the speaker?)

    Nothing egregiously out of sorts was spoken, but it sounded a bit too antinomian for my tastes.

    How does the speaker escape such a charge?

  47. Eric,

    The Reformed do not say that good works provide no contribution to the process of salvation as a whole. If we restrict ourselves to the biblical text, therefore, I can say with you that they do indeed contribute to our “justification.” In this dialogue it would be helpful if every time you employ the term “justification,” you would qualify it. Works contribute to justification (in the Catholic sense) but not to justification (in the Protestant sense). Justification, in the Protestant sense is more akin to Catholic “initial justification” or perhaps, “sanctifying grace.”

    Agreed.

    In your opinion, do your works contribute to your initial justification?

    No. Initial justification is (usually) received in infant baptism, and works play no role in receiving it.

    If it is your conviction that the Holy Spirit supplies the cooperative grace necessary for our regenerate selves to function AND is the “operative agent” within us, enabling and facilitating our very cooperation with that grace, then you are not saying anything different from the Reformed as regards our works.

    I agree and have indicated as much many times. But you’ll have to excuse my confusion here, since you seem to go from labeling our difference as semantic one minute and then claiming to weep over the lost state of my soul the next. I find this odd and inconsistent (!).

    Catholics may maintain that within sanctifying grace one goes from “one degree of perfection to another” only if, in some sense, justification is positional. It would be a rather easy thing to demonstrate that some Protestant “saints” are far more inherently righteous than some Catholic saints, not to mention rank and file members pronounced to be in a state of grace. Most of us know devout Catholics–having confessed, having obediently undergone penance, having been absolved–who are nonetheless anything but perfect (in any degree whatsoever). The same can be said for the Reformed, but we don’t claim inherent perfection. Our perfection is positional. Our status has changed. Our glorification has been secured. It is, in some sense, in the eyes of God, “already” here…but it is also, in another sense, “not yet” here, held off in future hope.

    I was not meaning by “perfection” what I think you mean by it. I am not defining it according to keeping the letter of the law (which was how the Pharisees did), but instead by the standard of being a son of God and having sanctifying grace and agape within. When God’s love is infused by the Spirit into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), the law is thereby fulfilled in us. Can we grow in this and increase our capacity for divine love? Yes. But as I said, this movement is from one degree of perfection to another.

    I don’t think you can logically hold to a justification that is not, in some sense, forensic without doing away with the concept of union with Christ (and without jettisoning the concepts of initial justification and sanctifying grace).

    Catholics don’t deny the forensic or declarative elements of justification, only the limiting of justification to these elements. Grace perfects nature, which is why divine justification surpasses what happens in a merely human court (where the judge can only stipulate things about you, but unlike God, cannot make them true inwardly).

    You have a funny way of reading Reformed commentaries to get them to agree with you.

    Hey, just because someone is Reformed doesn’t mean he can’t be frickin awesome every now and then, even by accident.

    Granted, they do tend to say that “justified” [dedikaiotai] is more that just forensic (that it includes a freedom over the power of sin [i.e., sanctification]), but that is what one would expect within the Reformed paradigm: the two go hand in glove; they are the twin gifts of union with Christ.
    Schreiner declares that dedikaiotai is not merely forensic in verse seven.

    Yes, but if you know anything about what is “traditional” Reformed systematics compared with what many contemporary scholars are saying, the latter is anything but “what one would expect.”

    Moo (who self-identifies as Reformed, but who is idiosyncratic in that identification) says of Romans 6:2-6 that “Paul’s language throughout is forensic, or positional; by God’s act, we have been placed in a new position. This position is real, for what exists in God’s sight is surely (ultimately) real, and it carries definite consequences for day-to-day living. But it is status, or power structure, that Paul is talking about here.”

    I don’t think anything I am saying is at odds with that. I am a bit unclear what he means by Paul’s language being “forensic or propositional” though.

    He mulls over several possibilities for verse seven, including the forensic, but in the end opts for “being set free from the power of sin” because otherwise verse seven would merely repeat the thesis of verse six rather than being a corollary to it.

    He came to that conclusion by reading this blog, I bet.

    Jimmy Dunn (who as a card-carrying member of the NPP troupe is not exactly Reformed) states that dedikaiotai should be translated as “declared free from responsibility in relationship to sin” or as “no longer [having] to answer for sin.” Clearly, a forensic interpretation.

    Hmm. I don’t have Dunn’s commentary, so I can’t comment beyond saying I don’t see it that way.

    And Joseph Fitzmyer, well-known Jesuit theologian, writing under the nihil obstat, declares that verse seven may be taken in one of two ways: either it is to be taken forensically, in that “from the standpoint of the law a dead person is absolved or acquitted, since sin no longer has a claim or a case against him or her” or else it is to be taken as “the one who has died has lost the very means of sinning” [i.e., he or she has been set free from the power of sin]. He does not declare for one option over the other. In fact, he states that “[i]n either case, a change of status has ensued; the old condition has been brought to an end in the baptism-death, and a new one has begun.”

    If Paul is simply using dedikaiotai in his (supposedly) usual, forensic way, then why would he say that “the one who died has been justified from sin”? First, the apo tes hamartias (from sin) seems out of place when discussing forensic justification since we are not declared righteous from something (we are “set free from” something, though). Second, hasn’t Paul discussed justification for a few chapters now? If he has switched gears and is now discussing sanctification (as most Reformed commentators say), then how is he not being redundant here by reminding the Romans that they are justified?

    All this to say, I agree with the majority of translations that render it “set free from,” which bolsters my point that Paul is using justification language to describe sanctification.

  48. +JMJ+
    I find that a glossing a large portion of the text is a good tool to determine the coherence of a hermeneutic. However, while glossing most of the text, one leaves a part of text, the “disputed term”, in its original form (which is, here, “is justified”) in order to demonstrate consonance or the lack of it.

    Here we have the original text…

    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 is justified from sin.

    Here is a gloss which is consonant with Catholicism…

    For if we shall have been judged to have followed the Master onto the Cross of Self-Abandonment, then we shall certainly receive the recompense of his reward unto life. As for that of which we are presently assured, we know that, in Baptism, our old self was transfixed upon the Cross. And this is for the purpose that he might remain dead and his workings of flesh cease, thereby freeing us of his dominion. For one who has died is justified from sin.

    Here is a gloss which seems to be consonant with Reformism (though one which Reformists are free to modify or to compose anew if they believe it does not do justice to their paradigm)…

    For if we have invisibly received an external acquittal due to Christ’s death, we are, thereby, legally entitled to his reward. If we be truly saved, we know that his forensic death certificate was transferred to our account that we might show thanks in sinning no more, demonstrating the fruits of freedom. For one who has died is justified from sin.

    From this, it seems that verse 7 is out of synch with what I take to be Reformism’s gloss. As Jason says above, Paul “switching gears” and “being redundant”, just seems out of place.

  49. Jason–

    I said:

    “If it is your conviction that the Holy Spirit supplies the cooperative grace necessary for our regenerate selves to function AND is the “operative agent” within us, enabling and facilitating our very cooperation with that grace, then you are not saying anything different from the Reformed as regards our works.”

    And you replied:

    “I agree and have indicated as much many times. But you’ll have to excuse my confusion here, since you seem to go from labeling our difference as semantic one minute and then claiming to weep over the lost state of my soul the next. I find this odd and inconsistent (!).”

    Let me try to explain my “inconsistency.”

    1. Before today, I have not seen an unambiguous statement from you attributing both “cooperative grace” and “our cooperation with that grace” to God. And I have pushed for just such a clear declaration. (Look at my final post on the “boasting” thread.)

    2. With that admission, I see you on a level playing field with Arminians soteriologically. We still have a major difference on perseverance since you don’t appear to hold to Augustine on that one. Any Arminian system is technically works based in my book because we ourselves have the autonomy to choose for or against God. But I don’t doubt the salvation of my many Arminian friends. I think them in error. I believe the error to deleteriously affect them. I worry about and pray for them. They would profusely claim to adhere to sola fide. With your admission, I believe you could do that, too, if you so desired. (And JDDJ and Benedict XVI would both allow you to do so, I’m guessing.)

    I will continue this with my next post….

  50. Jason–

    3. There are things you do and say that appear to contradict your admission. Why in the world do you push so hard against sola fide if you (technically, at least) hold to it? Why don’t you take the stance, for instance, of Francis Beckwith, who thinks that sola fide, understood correctly, is in line with Trent?

    4. Your particular take on Catholic soteriology does not appear to be the majority view. It is especially espoused by Protestant converts–and it may well be the actual position of the magisterium–but it is not what I encounter when I attend Mass.

    5. In all honesty, I don’t think of you as lost. (In the final analysis, however, I’m not the one doing the judging!) I fear for you when some of your comments seem to run contrary to the Gospel. My reaction is along the lines of “If he knows Christ, why would he run in this particular direction?” His sheep hear his voice. At times, your hearing seems strained.

  51. Jason–

    6. If I were to accept your soteriology lock, stock, and barrel, I would join to the Lutherans or the Anglicans, not Rome. There are far too many extra-biblical accretions in her. (If you are disturbed that Protestant “justification” is not explicitly defined by biblical texts, what on earth do you do with hyperdulia?)

    7. There are technical, theological difficulties with any rapprochement with Rome on soteriology. Compromises tend toward the “double justification” solution of Ratisbon or the “essential righteousness of the indwelling Christ” of Osiander or the “divinization” solution of the Finnish School of interpreting Luther (which guided JDDJ, from what I understand). I neither pretend to understand all the ins and outs of these positions nor to what extent I could actually embrace them.

    Jason…what is the character limitation on these posts? Sometimes (like today) I have trouble with even fairly short posts getting through.

  52. Jason–

    A. If, within our adoption as a child of God, we grow from perfection to even greater perfection, how does this perfect status of “sonship” allow us to walk away? That doesn’t sound too very perfect to me. (And for what it’s worth, the whole “list paradigm” vs. “agape paradigm” is pure silliness to my mind. The only one to fulfill “all of the law” was Christ, which he did so out of utter loving grace towards us. The Catholics do not deny that he fulfilled the law to the letter, nor do Protestants deny that the love and grace of God is our only cover.)

    B. What are you saying doesn’t jibe with “traditional” Reformed scholars?

    –That the biblical terms for “justification” don’t often include sanctification? I cannot imagine that unless they are lousy linguists!

    –That the gifts of justification and sanctification do not flow from our union with Christ? That the two are not “distinct but inseparable” ? That ‘s straight from Calvin! Who in your reading objects to this?

    I have Horton, Grudem, and Reymond here on my shelves. They certainly do not object!

    Flaming “Old School” guys like Darryl Hart might sound like they object from time to time, but I’m guessing even he would toe the line formally. Some of them overprotect imputation to the point that they denigrate sanctification. Some Lutherans do so, as well. This is a misreading of Luther on their part. As G. K. Berkouwer stated: “To anyone who has had a whiff of Luther’s writings this conception [that God has no interest in the gracious renovation of believers] is incredible. Even a scanty initiation is enough to be convinced that justification for Luther meant much more than an external event with no importance for the inner man.” Catholics, of course, sometimes stereotype the Reformed position as being a legal fiction (or as snow-covered dung), but it is a misconception they are maintaining thereby.

    The imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ is logically prior to union with Christ (so that our hearts might be made habitable). Nonetheless, all the Reformed systematics guys I have read or heard speak of justification as a gift flowing from union.

  53. Eric,

    You said:

    And for what it’s worth, the whole “list paradigm” vs. “agape paradigm” is pure silliness to my mind. The only one to fulfill “all of the law” was Christ, which he did so out of utter loving grace towards us.

    If Scripture is truly your guide, then explain these two passages:

    Romans 13: 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    ——————————————————————-
    Galatians 5: 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

    The way you’re talking, I don’t see how you could explain this; I don’t see how Paul could ever have spoken like this if he was really a Calvinist.
    If “fulfill” language is that of forensic law-keeping, then Paul should not be telling justified Christians to engage in something that would detract from or undermine the sufficiency of Christ.

  54. Paul admonishes and encourages us in many, many places.’

    There’s a difference (a big difference) between that and telling someone that they have to do x,y, or z in order to make it to heaven.

  55. That could be true, but the problem is that Paul should not be using such language as telling Christians to “fulfill” the law when he knows full well only Jesus did that and that Christians cannot in fact fulfill the law.

    Ask yourself this, why did Paul start off Romans and Galatians telling Christians not to fulfill the works of the law since this is pelagian and heresy and yet ends both Epistles by encouraging Christians to fulfill the works of the law?

  56. Nick–

    Thanks for the softball!

    James 2:8-13

    If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

    Only Christ has fulfilled the letter of the law, and only Christ has fulfilled the spirit of the law. The Ten Commandments done right are all about love for neighbor and love for God. Only Christ has fulfilled them all in terms of love (and it is only through the infusion of His “agape” love that you can claim your own “perfect” status under sanctifying grace). We are really no different on this, Nick. I don’t care what you think.

    Start interpreting Scripture with Scripture. Look at the big picture of things, and you’ll see that I’m right…that “we” are right. Protestants simply don’t have a “list paradigm.” (Heck, to have one would be to be works oriented, which–as you well know–we vehemently deny.) Christ is quite specific: we don’t measure up in terms of our love for one another. He’s not nearly so interested in how slavishly we’ve kept “the rules.”

  57. Eric,

    I’m afraid I don’t understand what you just said. Could you clarify?

    You keep saying Jesus is the only one who fulfilled the Law, yet I see texts where Christians are called to fulfill the law also. Are Christians able to fulfill the law or not?

    The only way I can make sense of your words is that you are saying Christians are indeed called to fulfill the law, but in reality they are unable to, and Paul is telling them to fulfill the law to get them to realize their sinfulness and that Jesus did it for them. Is that correct?

  58. Nick–

    Sorry. I probably need to clarify.

    When I said, “we” are right, I meant you and me: both of us are right on this particular issue.

    We have enough differences to fight over without making one up!

  59. Nick–

    They are told to fulfill the law because in Christ they are able to…they have his love within them. They are told to fulfill the “law of Christ”–the spiritualized law of love–not every jot and tittle of the Mosaic law done in perfunctory fashion. You Catholics act like we Protestants are stuck in a pre-regenerate inability to do good works. Within union with Christ, we are quite able to grow in grace and in the ability to fulfill the law of love. What we cannot do is increase our justification because we define it as something done by Christ, something done permanently, something done perfectly perfectly. How does one improve on what Christ has done? I don’t know about you, but I’m not even going to begin to try!

  60. Eric,

    We still have a major difference on perseverance since you don’t appear to hold to Augustine on that one.

    Could you outline more specifically what you think I differ with Augustine about?

    There are things you do and say that appear to contradict your admission. Why in the world do you push so hard against sola fide if you (technically, at least) hold to it?

    Well technically, it is you and not I who should be asked questions like this, since it is you and not I who hold to a novel understanding of justification. In other words, if sola fide is, as McGrath said, a theological novum, then it is the proponent of that novum who needs to justify (ahem) his adherence to it, rather than its detractors being asked to explain themselves.

    That said, though, I hold to what the CC has always held to (including Augustine). What I am pushing so hard against is the peculiarly Reformed/Lutheran formulation, which no Catholic agrees with.

    If I were to accept your soteriology lock, stock, and barrel, I would join to the Lutherans or the Anglicans, not Rome. There are far too many extra-biblical accretions in her.

    So now not even Lutherans are monergistic enough? And you second sentence begs the question by assuming Sola Scriptura and judging the CC by it. I realize you aren’t really making an argument here, but I know how much you love to hear me say that kind of thing. . . .

    Jason…what is the character limitation on these posts? Sometimes (like today) I have trouble with even fairly short posts getting through.

    There shouldn’t be one, but sometimes WordPress gets temperamental. Sorry. Always write your comments in a Word doc and paste them in.

    If, within our adoption as a child of God, we grow from perfection to even greater perfection, how does this perfect status of “sonship” allow us to walk away? That doesn’t sound too very perfect to me.

    The prodigal son walked away, and he was a true son. Israel constantly walked away from God, despite his saying, “What more could I have done for you, Israel?” Of course, the “one more thing” he could have done is take away their free will, but he didn’t. But this is another topic altogether.

    (And for what it’s worth, the whole “list paradigm” vs. “agape paradigm” is pure silliness to my mind. The only one to fulfill “all of the law” was Christ, which he did so out of utter loving grace towards us. The Catholics do not deny that he fulfilled the law to the letter, nor do Protestants deny that the love and grace of God is our only cover.)

    But as Nick has pointed out, Christians are both told to fulfill the law, and told that they have done so, by loving our neighbor as ourselves.

    What are you saying doesn’t jibe with “traditional” Reformed scholars?

    –That the biblical terms for “justification” don’t often include sanctification? I cannot imagine that unless they are lousy linguists!

    –That the gifts of justification and sanctification do not flow from our union with Christ? That the two are not “distinct but inseparable” ? That ‘s straight from Calvin! Who in your reading objects to this?

    I have Horton, Grudem, and Reymond here on my shelves. They certainly do not object!

    I was referring to seeing nomos as referring specifically to the Mosaic Covenant, as Moo does (I know of Reformed ministers who have been defrocked for being Mooian, and others in fear of it). But looking back, I can’t figure out why I bothered to point this out! Sorry, feel free to ignore me on this.

  61. Jason—

    1. I think many Catholics misinterpret Augustine vis-à-vis perseverance. Though he doesn’t agree with (many, though by no means all) Reformed folks concerning the assurance of salvation, he definitely believes all of the elect are saved without exception. His view of baptismal regeneration is what I believe trips people up. He clearly does not hold that all the baptized are elect. All in all, I hold that that puts him more squarely in the Protestant camp soteriologically.

    2. I get confused with your position on sola fide. You say that you agree that both cooperative grace and our own cooperation that goes with it both derive from Christ…that regenerate good works are totally spirit-wrought. When all the technicalities are swept away, this is really all sola fide is. So which is it? Do you agree with sola fide or don’t you? Or do you simply disagree because you believe the magisterium wishes you to? (I’m not at all sure that that is true, judging from some of B16’s statements accepting some of Luther’s concepts.) By the by, you need to go back and read McGrath again. He clearly, emphatically believes in sola fide himself, something he could not do if he actually perceived it as a theological “novum.” (True theological “nova,” as I’m sure you realize, are called heresies!) His thesis is that the church early on lost the biblical view of soteriology and that the Protestant Reformation was a valid reclaiming of these biblical principles. In other words, Roman Catholic formulations on justification are the true “nova,” putting the ball back in my court to ask the questions!

    3. No, many Lutherans are not very monergistic at all. I grew up a very Arminian Lutheran. Many liberal Lutherans are downright Pelagian. Conservative Lutherans sometimes overemphasize sola fide to the point of becoming functionally antinomian, but they also believe the regenerate can fall from grace. A few Lutherans, like those associated with Michael Horton, are fairly Reformed, but I wouldn’t want to push them too far on it. Yes, I was assuming sola scriptura because I was theorizing what I myself would do if I accepted your soteriological paradigm. I wouldn’t pitch it out the window! Besides, your blog at the moment is functioning under a methodological variety of sola scriptura!!

    4. The prodigal son walked away but came back. Israel has come back any number of times and is prophesied to do so again in the eschaton.

    5. How does Moo fit into what you said about traditional Reformed systematics? As I remarked, he is rather idiosyncratic: sometimes Reformed, sometimes Lutheran, sometimes (of late) somewhat emergent….

    WordPress doesn’t keep me from entering characters; it won’t allow me to submit a post unless it is short enough. And I don’t know how short that is. (It seems to vary.)

  62. “…why did Paul start off Romans and Galatians telling Christians not to fulfill the works of the law since this is pelagian and heresy and yet ends both Epistles by encouraging Christians to fulfill the works of the law?”

    Because we cannot fulfill the law for righteousness sake. Because that has already been done by Christ.

    And because that has been done, we are free to live our lives for the neighbor, and do works but solely for the sake of our neighbor.

    That’s the difference between admonishment and encouragement and the law.

  63. “Now that you don’t have to do anything…what will you do?”

  64. +JMJ+
    TheOldAdam wrote:

    “Now that you don’t have to do anything…what will you do?”

    Considering that the crux of Jason’s post is about Rom 6:7 (for one who has died is justified from sin), plugging this script into your comment might help to demonstrate if it fits.

    Now that you don’t have to do anything [to be justified]… what will you do? [how will you die?] For one who has died is justified from sin.

  65. Yes, wosbald, and we die in so many different ways in the course of our lives.

    Starting with the death that God does to us in our Baptism (Romans 6)

  66. +JMJ+
    TheOldAdam wrote:

    Yes, wosbald, and we die in so many different ways in the course of our lives.

    Starting with the death that God does to us in our Baptism (Romans 6)

    On the face of it, that certainly sounds like a retraction. Sounds like an admission that we must bring the body of sin to nothing in order to be justified. And that if we don’t die, if we don’t follow the Master onto the Cross of Self-Abandonment, then we won’t be justified.

  67. No retraction.

    God does that for us. In our baptisms, and in the hearing of His law…we are put to death.

    But He raises us again, in Christ (also Romans 6), and Romans 1:16, in His gospel Word of love and forgiveness.

  68. +JMJ+
    TheOldAdam wrote:

    No retraction.

    God does that for us.

    Perhaps you would do better to directly engag Jason’s exegetical points by offering a cogent exegesis of your own than to continue throwing out dogmatic statements. Reflexively regurgitating interminable variations of “because God does it all” is admissible if your intention is to merely pontificate, but it ain’t cutting it, if your intention is to engage on the thread’s topic.

    Jason claimed that Paul employs the term “Justification” in the context of what classical Protestantism insists is properly Sanctification and that, thus, Paul identifies the two. You could start here by giving a reasoned argument, even the most threadbare, as to why this use of the term is anomalous and little more than a curiosity of secondary import.

  69. Wosbald,

    I have attempted to get OldAdam to pull a chair up to the table and actually directly engage arguments on multiple occasions and on multiple blogs. Don’t hold your breath. He is a really nice guy, though.

  70. Eric,

    1. I think many Catholics misinterpret Augustine vis-à-vis perseverance. Though he doesn’t agree with (many, though by no means all) Reformed folks concerning the assurance of salvation, he definitely believes all of the elect are saved without exception. His view of baptismal regeneration is what I believe trips people up. He clearly does not hold that all the baptized are elect. All in all, I hold that that puts him more squarely in the Protestant camp soteriologically.

    Huh? Augustine’s position is exactly that of the Catholic Church. All the elect will persevere, all the baptized are regenerated, but not all the baptized are elect. It is his view of baptismal regeneration that makes him decidedly un-Reformed. You can respond to this if you want, but since it is off-topic I will let you have the last word.

    2. I get confused with your position on sola fide. You say that you agree that both cooperative grace and our own cooperation that goes with it both derive from Christ…that regenerate good works are totally spirit-wrought. When all the technicalities are swept away, this is really all sola fide is. So which is it? Do you agree with sola fide or don’t you?

    Like all orthodox Catholics, I agree that justification is through faith, but not through faith alone. We increase in our participation in the divine life, and thus in our justification, through our Spirit-wrought works, and those works are graciously allowed by the Father to contribute to our final salvation. “Sola Fide” is more than this, which is why the Reformation happened. “Sola Fide” includes things that I, following the Catholic Church, reject, especially the imputation of alien righteousness as the sole basis of our justification.

  71. Jason–

    I’ll respond briefly since these two conflicts represent the crux of our difficulties.

    1. In Reformed language, one cannot speak of someone being regenerate and not elect. One cannot die if truly born a second time. Spiritual birth equals spiritual life equals eternal life. Whatever the Catholics are talking about when they speak of baptismal regeneration, it is not what the Reformed are speaking of when we say “regeneration” (which is why we don’t relate it to baptism). We are speaking only of the rebirth of the elect. From what you say, Catholics would speak in a fashion similar to the Reformed when speaking about the rebirth of the elect: it produces life which cannot be lost.

    2. Your second answer makes no logical sense. For if we acknowledge that both cooperative grace and our cooperation with that grace derives from Christ–which you did acknowledge–then justification cannot be through any other means than faith alone. If you want to say that it is through the gift of a living faith which produces the gift of an obedient heart which produces the gift of good works, well then fine. But it all goes back to faith, and it is all grounded in union with Christ. Sometimes I wish Protestants would focus on a somewhat forgotten sola: solus Christus . It is, I do believe, the key sola, and one which Catholics would have a harder time denying. As far as Protestants are concerned, the way we have defined everything, if you deny sola fide , you have denied sola gratia and solus Christus , as well. Since no Catholic would admit to denying these two, it is self-evident that we are defining things differently. What you mean by grace is not what we mean by grace. For Protestants, an increase in our participation in the divine life does not mean an increase in justification. Again, as I’ve said before, the way Protestants define justification does not admit to the concept of increase. So once again, you are talking about something else.

  72. Eric,

    You said something astonishing in your last response to me:

    They [Christians] are told to fulfill the law because in Christ they are able to…they have his love within them. They are told to fulfill the “law of Christ”–the spiritualized law of love–not every jot and tittle of the Mosaic law done in perfunctory fashion. You Catholics act like we Protestants are stuck in a pre-regenerate inability to do good works. Within union with Christ, we are quite able to grow in grace and in the ability to fulfill the law of love. What we cannot do is increase our justification because we define it as something done by Christ, something done permanently, something done perfectly perfectly. How does one improve on what Christ has done? I don’t know about you, but I’m not even going to begin to try!

    I believe if you carried your first half of this paragraph to it’s logical conclusions, you’d end up on Rome’s doorstep. You agree that fulfilling the law is something Christians can and must do, and that this fulfilling is not some legalist approach to every jot and tittle of the Torah. It is this fulfilling of the law which Christians will be judged worthy of entering heaven. It is this fulfilling of the law by which Paul is speaking of the law jusitifying us in Romans 2:13.

    Based on this, it makes no sense to think or suggest that Jesus fulfilled the law for us, in our place. So it seems you’re in some equivocation bind when your prior comments said things like this:

    Only Christ has fulfilled the letter of the law, and only Christ has fulfilled the spirit of the law. The Ten Commandments done right are all about love for neighbor and love for God. Only Christ has fulfilled them all in terms of love (and it is only through the infusion of His “agape” love that you can claim your own “perfect” status under sanctifying grace).

    I don’t see how you can say only Christ fulfills the law – especially in our place – but that Christians are also commanded to fulfill the law. These are mutually exclusive if “fulfill” is being interpreted in an active obedience sense, so “fulfill” must be being used in a different sense. And if another definition of “fulfill” is granted, namely the one you gave in the top half of this response, then it seems the whole notion of Christ’s imputed active obedience falls out of the equation, since God giving the Spirit to us was for the purpose that we could/would fulfill the law and thus be receive final salvation on this basis.

  73. Nick–

    In many ways, Rome and Geneva are close. We fulfill the law only in and through Christ. We “fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, the church.” Aquinas speaks of how our works are secondary, indirect, causes of our justification. I could probably go with that.

    But I would say that–on the whole–you are closer to Geneva than I am to Rome.

    On the other hand, for you to believe that we receive final salvation on any other basis than the imputed righteousness of Christ is foolishness indeed. Don’t you choke on those words? (I know that I certainly would….)

  74. Nick and/or Jason,

    In the CtC post about imputation and paradigms, Bryan says that the Romans 5:5 love poured into our hearts fulfills the law. Here, you’re saying that our Spirit-wrought works of love fulfill the law. Which is it?

    –Christie

  75. Christie,

    In the CtC post about imputation and paradigms, Bryan says that the Romans 5:5 love poured into our hearts fulfills the law. Here, you’re saying that our Spirit-wrought works of love fulfill the law. Which is it?

    It’s both. The Spirit infuses into our hearts God’s love, which places us in a state of sonship since we have sanctifying grace and agape within. We can then begin to do the works of love and sacrifice that we were designed for in the first place, works which God doesn’t just pretend to accept, but with which he is truly pleased, for reals.

  76. Eric,

    You said:

    In many ways, Rome and Geneva are close. We fulfill the law only in and through Christ.

    On the other hand, for you to believe that we receive final salvation on any other basis than the imputed righteousness of Christ is foolishness indeed.

    I still don’t see how you’re defining and distinguishing between Christ “fulfilling the law” in our place versus Christians “fulfilling the law” though the indwelling of the Spirit. If “fulfill” means the same thing in both cases, then this is a standing contradiction.

    Catholics would say Christ fulfills the law in a way unique wholly to Himself, since all the Torah pointed to Christ in some way through types and shadows. But this wasn’t a “fulfilling” in the sense of keeping the law perfectly in our place (to be imputed to us). The “fulfilling” that Christians are doing is keeping the law just how God wanted it to be kept, and in doing so receive His divine judicial approval at Judgment time.

  77. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for numbering your ideas. It makes things so much easier.

    You said:
    As we wrap our our section on Paul in our series on soteriological paradigms, I would like to turn to Romans 8:1-4, where the apostle gives perhaps the most clear and compeling expression to what his gospel is all about:
    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
    A few observations:
    (1) It is likely that Paul’s use of “therefore” in v. 1 is intended to harken us forward rather than back, and his use of “for” at the beginnig of v. 2 reinforces this. It makes less sense to say, “I serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin, and therefore, because of this, there is now no condemnation…” than it does to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation… for the law of the Spirit has set me free…”

    The entire discourse beginning with the law of flesh and the law of the Spirit in Rom 7, reminds me of the Sacraments. Specifically, in this case, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is what the “therefore” means to me.

    The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a recognition that the law of sin remains in our members and that we must fight these temptations throughout our lives. The Law of the Spirit which has set us free in Christ Jesus is the flip side of the Commandments:
    Galatians 5:23
    Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    And in the Sacraments, we receive the grace and power to live according to this Law:
    Romans 8:2
    For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
    Therefore, we say:
     I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    Because we who are in Christ Jesus, seek His grace and salvation in the Sacraments.

    (2) The liberating agent here is explicitly said to be law, and specifically “the law of the Spirit.” Paul was bound by the law of sin, and was set free in Christ by the law of the Spirit.

    We receive this Spirit, in Baptism. And in order to continue to dwell in this Spirit, we must live according to His fruits.

    (3) Life under the Mosaic covenant (which Paul described in the previous chapter as “serving God in the old way of the letter”) is characterized by impotence and powerlessness. This is why “God has done what the law could not” (v. 3). The transition heralded by the “now” in v. 1 is covenantal and horizontal — from Moses to Christ — and not merely existential.

    The transition and contrast is the Sacraments. That is the main difference between the Old and New Covenants. We must still keep the Ten Commandments. But in the Old Testament, there were no efficacious Sacraments. That is why Scripture says:

    Heb 11:
    39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
    40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

    Hebrews 12:22-24
    King James Version (KJV)
    22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
    23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
    24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
    The Sacraments are prejudgment events.
    Romans 2:13
    King James Version (KJV)
    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    (4) The goal of the gospel described in v. 4 is said to be the fulfillment of the law within us by the Spirit.
    From these observations we see Paul’s gospel in all its fulness: In the flesh of Christ sin is condemned, leading to the New Covenant gift of the Spirit who writes the divine law upon our minds and hearts and unites us to Jesus, thus enabling us to bear the fruit of the Spirit and thereby to fulfill the law.

    A wonderful description of Baptism (and all the Sacraments), wouldn’t you say?

    No mention is made here of imputation, despite the fact that forensic language is clearly used throughout this chapter. Rather, Paul understands our justification to consist of more than a mere stipulation on God’s part, a mere declaration about us that itself effects no inward change. For Paul, the divine Judge outshines all earthly ones, just as grace perfects nature. Moreover, to stop short at a mere secular and Greek definition of dikaioo  would be to reduce God’s capacity as Judge to that of a mere man who, even if he wanted to transform the hearts of those he acquits, simply doesn’t have the resources to do it.

    It is also, not merely a reference to the Final Judgment. But to the Judgment which occurs at every Sacrament:
    Mark 16:16
    King James Version (KJV)
    16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
    1 Corinthians 11:29
    For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

    Friends, the Catholic gospel is as gracious and God-glorifying as anything that has ever come out of Geneva or Wittenberg, and indeed much more so. And Rome’s doctrine of justification goes far beyond seeing God as a mere secular judge whose declarations amount to nothing more than words. For the Catholic, when God declares us righteous, his declaration is a speech-act, it is perfomative, it makes what he says to be really and actually true. In a word, God does more than stipulate, and the New Covenant is more than a contract or exchange of goods and services. It is a bond of sacred kinship, and it creates a family.

    Absolutely! And these declarations, these speech-acts, occur at every Sacrament.

    And finally, the Catholic gospel highlights God as Father. What do fathers do but reproduce their own image in their offspring? As “the one from whom all earthly fatherhood is named,” God re-creates us in the image of Christ to be his children and then beholds with joy our Spirit-wrought works. And far from pettily dismissing them as non-contributory lest they trespass on his turf and steal his glory, he is pleased with them and is glorified by them, to the point of seeing them as tokens of our participation in the work of our elder Brother who always does what he sees his Father do.

    Agreed. More than that though, it is God who works through us. As the Scripture says:
    Philippians 2:11-13
    King James Version (KJV)
    11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
    To God be the glory. If He didn’t do it, it wouldn’t be done. We participate in His works by not putting any obstacles in the way of His grace.
    God is merciful and gracious. God does not, as the Protestants accuse Him, grasp all the glory. He gladly shares it with His children:
    Hebrews 6:10
    For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
    If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified with Him:
    Romans 8:17
    And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
    Sincerely,

    De Maria

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