A Statement on Justification from the ACLC

A while back, the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America adopted a statement on the doctrine of justification that decisively rejected the teaching of objective/subjective justification – which had been an earmark of the “Synodical Conference” tradition of Lutheranism. The pastors of the Association of Confessional Lutheran Congregations, which up until now has been in fellowship with the ELDoNA, have now prepared a formal theological response to the ELDoNA document, which is available on the ACLC website. I am not a member of, or a spokesperson for, the ACLC, so I would not expect to be discussing their document very much in this forum. But since their document does address a subject that I have discussed on this blog in the past (here and here), and since those previous posting garnered quite a bit of discussion among the readers of this blog, I thought that it would be of interest to those readers also to made aware of these developments, and of the ACLC document.


Comments

A Statement on Justification from the ACLC — 289 Comments

  1. Joe Krohn :@Brett Meyer #45 You deflected again, Brett. I have another question for you to. Are all men redeemed? Yes or no?

    As I await your definition of ‘redeemed’ here the BOC’s recommendation of Luther’s Galatians Commentary for an explanation of the central doctrine of Justification solely by faith alone:

    (FC SD III 57)
    67] Concerning what is needful furthermore for the proper explanation of this profound and chief article of justification before God, upon which depends the salvation of our souls, we direct, and for the sake of brevity herewith refer, every one to Dr. Luther’s beautiful and glorious exposition of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians.

    Martin Luther’s Galatians Commentary:
    29. You cannot extricate yourself from unbelief, nor can the Law do it for you. All your works in intended fulfilment of the Law must remain works of the Law and powerless to justify in the sight of God, who regards as just only believing children.

    74. But what is the process whereby Christ gives us such a spirit and redeems us from under the Law? The work is effected solely by faith. He who believes that Christ came to redeem us, and that he has accomplished it, is really redeemed. As he believes, so is it with him. Faith carries with it the child-making spirit. The apostle here explains by saying that Christ has redeemed us from under the Law that we might receive the adoption of sons. As before stated, all must be effected through faith. Now we have discussed the five points of the verse.
    http://www.trinitylutheranms.org/MartinLuther/MLSe rmons/Galatians4_1_7.html

    Christ …redeems us from under the Law…solely by faith.

  2. Pr. Jim Schulz :
    Jim, I agree that justification is for all.

    I see you have bolded “for” rather than putting the emphasis on “for all” as I did. So, please indulge another related question. By “for” do you mean “purpose”? For example, “It is the aim of God, His purpose, that all should be justified?” And, so God’s action towards the world “for” the sake of Christ is He desires all should be justified?

  3. I interpret the CTCR document to be saying that by Christ’s resurrection from the dead God declares: ‘justification is for all.'”

    Refresh my memory. Where is your quote found: “It is the aim of God, His purpose, that all should be justified?”

  4. @Brett Meyer #2
    Its a simple yes or no answer, Brett. But, I will indulge…

    Redeem means to buy back. In the case of the Kinsmen Redeemer, he was enabled to buy back a relative from slavery in the unfortunate scenario that the relative fell on hard economic times. However, he had to adhere to the following requirements: He had to be a relative; He had to be free himself; he had to be capable of paying the price of redemption; he had to be willing to pay it.

    In the case of Jesus, he was sent to redeem men from their sins and buy men back from the slavery of sin. 2 Peter 2:1 indicates the fact that Jesus did exactly that; and it was not just believers that He bought back, but unbelievers as well.

    Now I ask you, Brett; Do you attest to Scripture that Christ has redeemed unbelievers? Yes or no?

  5. Pr. Jim Schulz :
    I interpret the CTCR document to be saying that by Christ’s resurrection from the dead God declares: ‘justification is for all.’”
    Refresh my memory. Where is your quote found: “It is the aim of God, His purpose, that all should be justified?”

    Pr. Schulz,

    In my earlier message I am providing you an example and hence the use of quotation marks. I am not citing a source. So is my example a fair representation of what you are stating with “God declares: ‘justification is for all’?” It is “for” all in the sense of purpose, or aim, but not “for” all in the sense that God declares the world free of blame (i.e. absolve) for the sake of His Son?

  6. When the Passover Lamb paid the price of redemption for the children of Israel to leave Egypt, they were redeemed, but most of them did not want to leave the prison.

    This comment Copyright © 2014 Synoptic Text Information Services, Inc.

  7. Jim, it’s the difference between of and for. The CTCR document states that God declared justification for (not of) all when He raised His Son from the dead.

  8. Pr. Jim Schulz :
    Jim, it’s the difference between of and for. The CTCR document states that God declared justification for (not of) all when He raised His Son from the dead.

    So, I am correct in saying that you have no problem with the view that justification is for all in the sense of God’s purpose or aim for humankind, and “for” doesn’t mean that God declares the world free of blame (i.e. absolve) for the sake of His Son.

    I have enough information here to see that you are, in fact, rejecting the teaching of the LCMS on objective justification. Indeed, the CTCR document is quite clear that the teaching on justification you represent with the “for” in the sense you are using it is NOT the Scriptural (and by extension what is taught in the confessions) teaching of justification. Why? Because the way you are using the language (e.g. “for” and “has”) means that the action of God in response to His Son’s sacrifice doesn’t establish a real relationship with the world, a relationship such that God is at peace with the world and forgives the world (*To wit, justifies the world, see below). In the view you are expressing here, God’s action, in response to what His Son merits for the world through His death and resurrection, is to merely purpose in His heart that He will forgive (not that He has) and make peace with all those who come to faith in His Son. IOW, Pr. Schulz, you are arguing that justification is a mere potentiality. Something the CTCR document clearly condemns.

    I think it clear why you come down in defense of the anti-OJ crowd here and reject the use of the OJ and SJ terminology. It is because you don’t believe OJ.

    ___________________________________

    *Martin Chemnitz writes in his Loci Theologici,

    “Furthermore, we should not overlook the other synonymous words with which Paul himself explains the word ‘justification,’ as in Rom. 4:3-5, ‘to impute or count for righteousness,’ or ‘faith is counted for righteousness’ [KJV]. Again he explains justification on the basis of Ps. 32:1-2 as ‘covering iniquity’ or as ‘not imputing sin,’ cf. Rom. 4:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:19. In Rom. 5:10 the word ‘to be reconciled’ is clearly a synonym for ‘to be justified’” (ibid. vol. 2, p. 483, CPH 1989 translated by J.A.O. Preus).

  9. @Joe Krohn #5
    No. Christ did not redeem the unbelieving world out from under the Law as UOJ teaches in it’s abuse of Scripture.

    Christ paid for the whole worlds sins. He paid for the iniquity of the whole world. Therefore all righteousness is in Christ and never apart from Him. If you’re implying the sense of the word redeemed means to pay for sins – yes, Christ paid for the whole world’s sins. If you’re implying the sense of the word redeemed means to justify – no, you are contending against Scripture and the Christian Book of Concord. This confession is clarified by the following quotes of the BOC recommended Galatians Commentary and the Solid Declaration.

    Luther’s Galatians Commentary:
    74. But what is the process whereby Christ gives us such a spirit and redeems us
    from under the Law? The work is effected solely by faith. He who believes that
    Christ came to redeem us, and that he has accomplished it, is really redeemed.

    As he believes, so is it with him. Faith carries with it the child-making spirit. The
    apostle here explains by saying that Christ has redeemed us from under the Law
    that we might receive the adoption of sons. As before stated, all must be effected
    through faith.”
    Page 18

    Luther’s Galatians Commentary:
    “82. Note, the Son of God is put under the Law in that he redeemed us who were
    under it. For us, for our good, he effected all; not for himself. He purposed to
    manifest toward us only love, goodness and mercy. As Paul has it (Gal 3, 13),
    “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” In
    other words: For us, Christ put himself under the law and complied with its
    demands, designing every believer of this fact to be redeemed from under the
    Law with its curse.”
    Page 20

    BOC: 4] In opposition to both these parties it has been unanimously taught by the other teachers of the Augsburg Confession that Christ is our righteousness not according to His divine nature alone, nor according to His human nature alone, but according to both natures; for He has redeemed, justified, and saved us from our sins as God and man, through His complete obedience; that therefore the righteousness of faith is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and our adoption as God’s children only on account of the obedience of Christ, which through faith alone, out of pure grace, is imputed for righteousness to all true believers, and on account of it they are absolved from all their unrighteousness.
    http://bookofconcord.org/sd-righteousness.php

    I hope this clarifies.

  10. Btw, when it is said that God is reconciled to the world in Christ, that is not some nominalistic move where the action takes part in the person receiving faith in Christ, that is an action that takes place in God. It is a real change in relation between God and the world. Of course, that doesn’t mean the world is reconciled to God; i.e. the world loves God!

    Indeed, those dead in sin hate God!

  11. Jim Pierce :Btw, when it is said that God is reconciled to the world in Christ, that is not some nominalistic move where the action takes part in the person receiving faith in Christ, that is an action that takes place in God. It is a real change in relation between God and the world. Of course, that doesn’t mean the world is reconciled to God; i.e. the world loves God!
    Indeed, those dead in sin hate God!

    Mr. Pierce, in your faithful confession of Objective Justification you are teaching contrary to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

    Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his

    71] “but we maintain this, that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are for Christ’s sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God. And because “to be justified” means that out of unjust men just men are made, or born again, it means also that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. [The term “to be justified” is used in two ways: to denote, being converted or regenerated; again, being accounted righteous. Accordingly we wish first to show this, that faith alone makes of an unjust, a just man, i.e., receives remission of sins”.
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php

    40] … Therefore it must follow that we are accepted with God, and justified by faith alone, when in our hearts we conclude that God desires to be gracious to us, not on account of our works and fulfilment of the Law, but from pure grace, for Christ’s sake. What can our opponents bring forward against this argument? What can they invent and devise against the plain truth?

    there must be faith in Christ by which we are reconciled to God and first obtain the remission of sin. Good God, how dare people call themselves Christians or say that they once at least looked into or read the books of the Gospel when they still deny that we obtain remission of sins by faith in Christ? Why, to a Christian it is shocking merely to hear such a statement.”
    http://bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php

    UOJ’s false teaching concerning reconciliation is another reason it is fair to charge the doctrine with Universalism. Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    The contradictions never end with Objective Justification.

  12. @Joe Krohn #5
    Since a day has gone by and Brett Meyer has not answered the question put to him, one can conclude he is unable to answer the question because:

    A.) Life obligations have taken him away from the discussion.

    B.) He has finally come the the conclusion he has been wrong all along and can not show his face.

    I pray that he has finally been able to make the objective connections of redemption, reconciliation, atonement and justification as they relate to mankind regardless of faith.

  13. Brett Meyer :

    UOJ’s false teaching concerning reconciliation is another reason it is fair to charge the doctrine with Universalism. Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
    The contradictions never end with Objective Justification.

    It is absolutely dishonest to “charge the doctrine with Universalism.” One of the many problems you are having Brett is in recognizing that the emphasis being placed on objective justification is in response to the false teaching that there is no such thing as a general justification. In other words, I would happily go along talking about subjective justification or about justification in general, if it weren’t for the fact that you and others in this thread are attacking objective justification.

    When asked to deal with the Scriptures, the Confessions, and scholarship showing you are wrong, you begin cutting and pasting quotations from the Book of Concord as if anyone posting in this thread disagrees with what is being stated in our Confession. That too is dishonesty on your part.

    What you are wrongly attempting is to harmonize what appears to be a contradiction. In the process you have flat out rejected the Scriptural truth of universal reconciliation. As a side note, are you aware that Pieper uses the terms “objective and subjective reconciliation” as synonymous with “objective and subjective justification”? He does that because he recognized just as Martin Chemnitz did that the vicarious satisfaction made by Christ is “a matter which belongs to the article of justification” (Examination of the Council of Trent, Vol., I, Art. VII, p. 497). So, are you going to say that Chemnitz is a heretic who teaches a false gospel, too? After all, Chemnitz is clear that the vicarious satisfaction “is the expiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), and hence Christ is the end of the Law for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4)” (ibid).

    When you attack and deny what is taught by OJ, you are attacking the teaching of Christ’s vicarious satisfaction, since you are saying that what Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection is not making full satisfaction for the sins of the whole world and hence you reject the sound teaching of God being reconciled to all of humankind in response to His Son. Indeed, you are in fact rejecting what is confessed in the Formula:

    “But, since it is the obedience as above mentioned [not only of one nature, but] of the entire person, it is a complete satisfaction and expiation for the human race, by which the eternal, immutable righteousness of God, revealed in the Law, has been satisfied, and is thus our righteousness, which avails before God and is revealed in the Gospel, and upon which faith relies before God, which God imputes to faith, as it is written, Rom. 5:19: For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous; and 1 John 1:7: The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth us from all sin. Likewise: The just shall live by his faith, Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17? (FC III, 57).

    When you reject, as you do, that Christ has made “a complete satisfaction and expiation for the human race” you gut out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no righteousness of Christ to be imputed. There is no good news for faith to receive. All there is is a conditional forgiveness of sins turning upon the action of faith in the individual. Yes, your teaching is “If you believe, then you will be forgiven.” The Scriptural view is “Your sins are forgiven due to the merit of Christ, receive His free gift!” Yes, indeed this is what happens via the means of grace! Take and eat! The true body of Christ given to you for the forgiveness of sins! Drink of it all of you, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

    Reject the teaching behind the term “objective justification” at your own peril. Ultimately you reject the vicarious satisfaction made by Christ and we have already seen that with your own words, Brett. For you reject a universal reconciliation.

  14. @Brett Meyer #11

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #15
    No problem, Pr, Scheer!

    Brett, you are blind! In your Luther quote is embedded exactly what you are arguing against!

    “He who believes that Christ came to redeem us, and that he has accomplished it, is really redeemed.”

    Christ had to redeem us in order for us to believe we are redeemed. That is what Luther is saying! And if you are saying (which seems to be the case) that not all men are/were redeemed, them you are guilty of limited redemption because the ‘paying of the world’s iniquity’ effects something for all men.

    You clearly deny scripture. Furthermore what you confess is not Lutheran. Please do us all a favor and quit posting here for you are disgracing the Scriptures and the BOC by your twisting of the truth.

  15. @Jim Pierce #17
    Thank you for your response Mr. Pierce. The reason I quoted Romans 5:10 was to show that those reconciled to God are saved eternally. Which makes the purpose of the doctrine of OJ pointless. If OJ continues to teach God is reconciled to the whole unbelieving world they must bear the responsibility of also teaching the whole unbelieving world is saved eternally.

    You claim I’m attacking Christ’s doctrine by rejecting Objective Justification. Truth is I reject OJ because it’s not Scriptural. Because it’s not Scriptural – I’m not attacking Christ’s doctrine and in fact I’m upholding it.

    You quote Chemitz, ““a complete satisfaction and expiation for the human race”. I will make the same point as Pastor Schulz but the difference will be that I reject OJ in totality and am not attempting to retain any of it. Note the word ‘for’ which shows intent. Were it to state ‘of – the human race’ then it would teach OJ. But it doesn’t for it doesn’t communicate completion but intent.

    Everyone should note the twisting of Scriptural words that is occuring in the doctrine of Objective Justification. Saved but not heaven saved, God is reconciled to the unbelieving world but unbelievers are not reconciled to God, God declares the unbelieving world justified but they aren’t justified until they believe He made that declaration (the other OJ versions teach they don’t receive the benefit of God’s declaration until they believe He made it), God making a declaration but the effect of that declaration isn’t real until the subject of the declaration believes it, and the list goes on. There is no excuse for OJ’s ongoing abuse of God’s Word.

    You condemn me for rejecting OJ but you have never provided Scriptural or Confessional proof that it is a doctrine of Christ. In fact all of my quotes of Scripture and the Confessions are clearly teaching contrary to the tenets of UOJ with you promote. Condemn me for rejecting OJ if you wish but it is not a valid arguement when the validity of OJ is the issue.

    71] “but we maintain this, that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are for Christ’s sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God. And because “to be justified” means that out of unjust men just men are made, or born again, it means also that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. [The term “to be justified” is used in two ways: to denote, being converted or regenerated; again, being accounted righteous. Accordingly we wish first to show this, that faith alone makes of an unjust, a just man, i.e., receives remission of sins”.
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php

    “by faith itself…we are for Christ’s sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God.”
    This single sentence from the Christian Book of Concord refutes the foundational tenet of OJ which teaches the unbelieving world was reconciled (accepted) by God for the sake of Christ before and without the Means of Grace working Godly contrition and Faith in Christ alone.

    I appreciate the discussion,
    In Christ,
    Brett Meyer

  16. @Brett Meyer #11
    Furthermore: (my comments in quotes)

    “82. Note, the Son of God is put under the Law in that he redeemed us who were
    under it. (Brett, this is all people.) For us, for our good, he effected all; not for himself. He purposed to manifest toward us only love, goodness and mercy. (To all people, Brett; John 3:16) As Paul has it (Gal 3, 13), “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”(Brett, a curse for all people…not just believers.) In other words: For us, Christ put himself under the law and complied with its demands, designing every believer of this fact to be redeemed from under the Law with its curse.”(Brett, no one here denies this…we receive the benefit of this redemption through faith…faith does not make redemption into a reality. It already happened!)

  17. Joe,

    Your comments sparked a thought for me. I really wish Brett would carefully read Scriptures such as Romans 5:12-21:

    ” Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”(Romans 5:12-21).

    I mean, just look at the language… “as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” I don’t think Brett would reject the teaching that all men are condemned due to the sin of Adam, or at least I hope not. Yet, here, Brett (and others in this thread) reject the Scriptural language “leads to justification and life for all men.” That is they reject that what Christ did (as opposed to what Adam did) “leads to justification… for all men.” One can’t maintain all have been condemned and then say these Scriptures teach not all have been justified (in some sense) by what Christ has done.

    At any rate… I am definitely outta here for good. I have kicked this dead horse the final time. 🙂

    (*And there was much rejoicing!*)

  18. @Jim Pierce #21
    I know, Jim. Scripture is so undeniably clear. 2 Peter 2:1 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” It clearly says that Jesus redeemed false teachers; even those who deny Him. I just don’t get it. Yes, there has been much horse kicking. Time to hit the trail… 🙂

  19. Joe Krohn :
    Brett, you are blind! In your Luther quote is embedded exactly what you are arguing against!
    “He who believes that Christ came to redeem us, and that he has accomplished it, is really redeemed.”

    And yet I can see the sentence that preceeded your quote which states, “74. But what is the process whereby Christ gives us such a spirit and redeems us from under the Law? The work is effected solely by faith.”
    The accomplishment of redeeming the individual is through faith and not before and without as you contend.
    for He has redeemed, justified, and saved us from our sins as God and man, through His complete obedience; that therefore the righteousness of faith is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and our adoption as God’s children only on account of the obedience of Christ, which through faith alone, out of pure grace, is imputed for righteousness to all true believers, and on account of it they are absolved from all their unrighteousness.”
    http://bookofconcord.org/sd-righteousness.php

    Joe Krohn :
    Christ had to redeem us in order for us to believe we are redeemed. That is what Luther is saying! And if you are saying (which seems to be the case) that not all men are/were redeemed, them you are guilty of limited redemption because the ‘paying of the world’s iniquity’ effects something for all men.

    Prove from Scripture your UOJ teaching that Christ had to redeem us in order for us to believe we are redeemed.

    Prove from Scripture your UOJ teaching that (Christ’s) paying of the world’s iniquity effects something for all men. In the sense that you intend it – i.e. that the whole world of unbelievers were forgiven by God because of the atonement of Christ. The effect of the atonement was that all righteousness is in and of Christ. Those that are in Christ through faith have all that is His. Those who abide in unbelief have nothing of His and therefore remain under God’s wrath and condemnation.

    Your rationalistic UOJ assumptions are rejected by the clear teaching of Scripture and the faithful explanation of the BOC.

    Jim Pierce :
    I mean, just look at the language… “as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”… Yet, here, Brett (and others in this thread) reject the Scriptural language “leads to justification and life for all men.” That is they reject that what Christ did (as opposed to what Adam did) “leads to justification… for all men.”

    Mr. Pierce, I’m glad you posted this Scriptural quote. The problem with this defense of UOJ’s teaching that all men are justified is that this verse states that all those justified are also saved eternally – “…and life for all men.” So you either have to back away from using this as a Objective Justification verse and, in classic UOJ style, teach it now is a Subjective Justification verse (just as it was once forbidden to eat meat on Friday’s yet it is now approved) or you must claim Universalism where all those thereby justified are also saved eternally. This is another clear example of UOJ’s eternal contradiction to Scripture.

  20. May I ask a question as a late arrival to the discussion? A Lutheran friend of mine was promoting the benefits of Lutheranism and I have observed ELDONA with fondness but not realizing these detailed differences between “concservative” Lutheran bodies.
    Prior to becoming Anglican I was a Calvinist (now a recovering Calvinist) and have not been as exposed to the Lutheran issues

    Is it
    -the position that Objective justification is how each person stands justified, before God, by the work of the cross regardless of his or her intrinsic position, belief, etc?

    -ELDONA states justification occurs when the benefits of the cross are applied to the person at faith?

    Is that an accurate summary?

  21. Properly speaking, “objective” justification is the justification that is the object of faith, namely the justification of Christ, by God the Father, in his resurrection. In his suffering and death, the sin of humanity had been imputed to Jesus, and Jesus had been condemned in the stead of the humanity whose sins he bore. In him, and in his suffering and death, humanity was vicariously condemned. In his resurrection, the sin of humanity was then lifted off of Christ and cast away from him, and Jesus was justified in the stead of the humanity whose sin he had successfully atoned for. In him, and in his resurrection, humanity was vicariously justified.

    This objective justification of humanity in Christ is proclaimed, offered, and applied to individuals through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments; and it is received by faith alone. This is sometimes called “subjective” justification. Objective justification is justification offered, while subjective justification is justification received. No individual, as an individual, is justified in the objective sense, except for Jesus. Whenever we speak of individuals being justified, or about how “each person” as an individual stands before God, we are not then talking about the objective side of justification, but about its subjective side. But objective justification does speak to the question of how humanity as a whole now stands before God, in Christ, and because of Christ’s atoning death and justifying resurrection.

    Humanity’s objective justification in Christ is implicit in the very phrase “justification by faith,” which means that we receive justification by means of faith. We are not merely justified in faith – as if God created a new and separate justification for each believer in, or on account of, his faith. Our justification is something that we receive. Conceptually, something cannot be received unless it already exists. The gospel is not a message of a potential justification, or a proposal from God that justification will be created if certain conditions are met. Rather, the gospel of justification in Christ is a proclamation that creates and elicits faith, and that delivers Christ and his benefits to faith.

  22. This controversy has been waxing and waning, in fits and starts, since the 19th century. It goes back to a dispute that broke out in the 1870s, between two Lutheran synods of Scandinavian extraction, the (Swedish) Augustana Synod and the Norwegian Synod. The Augustana Synod said that absolution is a divine wish that sins be forgiven, requiring only faith for this wish to be fulfilled. This was seen to introduce a synergistic conditionality into the doctrine of absolution. The Norwegian Synod said that absolution is a divine impartation of forgiveness, flowing out from the death and resurrection of Christ for all people, which is received only by faith. This wording was an attempt to preserve a proper understanding of absolution as a monergistic gift of grace. Some of the arguing over the years has, I fear, been little more than a battle over words. But in some cases actual differences in the doctrines of grace, the means of grace, and faith, seem to be driving the controversy.

  23. Some of it seemed wording since I trust any confessional Lutheran affirms justification by faith alone.
    ELDONA appears like a solid group. If I may ask…are confessional Lutherans rather quick to disfellowship? That’s not meant to be harsh. As a former Calvinist…conflict seemed inherent to their spirituality. I think I understand both concerns. You don’t want faith to be a “work” but you don’t want to have a form of universalism. I hope the traditional Anglicans avoid this topic. 🙂

  24. “If I may ask…are confessional Lutherans rather quick to disfellowship?”

    In principle, no. But sometimes yes. It depends on the groups involved, I suppose, and also on the issue – how central it is to the doctrine of salvation. A noteworthy Lutheran leader from the 19th century, C. F. W. Walther, wisely said this:

    Alas, dear brethren, how often do we not get into arguments and quarrels! Therefore, when I notice that if I carry the fight out to its bitter end our whole communion will suffer as a result, then – unless God’s honor and the salvation of souls are at stake – I should say, “Let’s drop this subject. It is clear that we can’t reach any agreement. Let us not destroy our precious fraternal harmony.” Everyone must keep this in mind: When people get worked up at conferences or conventions, you must immediately ask yourself, “Where will this end?” Then the officials have to say, “This will never do; there will be no further discussion of this subject, because it is not only a matter of someone’s feelings getting hurt, but the devil is trying to rob Synod of its precious possession.” When someone has gone too far but says, “Dear brother, I didn’t intend to be so mean,” I should immediately forgive him. But if I would respond, “Do you realize the full enormity of your conduct? Do you really repent of what you’ve done?” then I am being too legalistic (da wird die Goldwage genommen). That is wrong. We should not do that unless the offender has clearly demonstrated that he is a hardened and unrepentant sinner. In that case we must firmly inform him, “If you do not repent of your sin, you are lost.” … Two men in a Synod/District may disagree about something, and that disagreement can easily become a fire that inflames the entire Synod/District, for both of them then often try to gather support for their own position. We cannot prevent bitter thoughts from arising. Unfortunately our hearts are such touchy tinder that such sparks can immediately start a fire; but we should immediately get water and put it out. … As important as it is to be concerned with purity of doctrine, we dare not become irrational about it. If a member of a communion says something that is not correct, we must avoid attacking him immediately as a heretic. … Very sternly the apostle Paul writes, “Let there be no divisions among you!” [1 Cor. 1:10], and then he sharply rebukes [the Corinthians] because there already were divisions among them, and he adds, “Those who make divisions are carnal” [1 Cor. 3:3]. Let us take that to heart! Let us watch and pray that no unnecessary disputes will ever arise and be fostered, and that no one will go public in uncertain matters until he has informed others about it, so that, whenever possible, the fire can be quenched. … Only when God’s glory or the salvation of souls are clearly at stake, then we must engage in battle, even if it means the destruction of a synod that previously enjoyed God’s blessing. What does God care about a synod, when the saving truth hangs in the balance? When it comes to insignificant matters that have nothing to do with the salvation of immortal souls, we should never get involved in a serious dispute. But if someone who is always itching for a fight starts one, we must firmly put such a fellow in his place. Appropriate is 2 Tim. 2:14: “…warn them before God against quarreling about words.” A person may express an idea in a way that is completely wrong, even though he intended to say the right thing. That is why Gerhard writes: “It is wicked to interpret a poor choice of words as error, when you know that the right meaning was intended” (Locus on Good Works, sec. 38). Let us avoid ever doing that in this District! When someone makes “a poor choice of words,” we should avoid immediately labeling him as either a heretic or a false teacher. If necessary, we should instead correct him gently. (“Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod,” Essays for the Church, Vol. II, pp. 57-59)

  25. Because it is not “an unbeliever” as an individual who is justified in the objective sense. It is Jesus, in the stead of the atoned for and redeemed human race, who is objectively justified. Objective justification is something that happens most fundamentally between God the Father and Christ. The human race as a whole is involved, but only because, and only insofar as, the human race as a whole is represented by Christ, in his justification. In Christ, and in Christ’s justification, humanity is justified. Apart from and outside of Christ, humanity remains under wrath. A believing individual is a partaker in humanity’s justification. An unbelieving individual remains as a partaker in the wrath of God.

  26. Ok, this is where I need help/clarification.

    An unbeliever is a part of humanity which is represented and justified in Christ, by representation, so that person stands objectively justified as represented by and in Christ, and Christ’s justification by representation. How is one who stands justified by virture of being in Christ by representation able to be under the wrath of God at the same time?

    Humanity in Christ=objectively justified
    Steve=part of humanity
    Steve=justified (in Christ), in unbelief or belief?

    Would the above be true even if Steve was an unbeliever?
    Is it possible for Steve to go to hell for eternity as one who is objectively justified in Christ as a member of humanity? Can one objectively justified in Christ go to hell?

  27. The Gospel-writer who proclaims that the wrath of God abides on unbelievers, is the same Gospel-writer who proclaims that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Both of these things are true, because the law and the gospel are both true. In and unto itself, the fallen world is under wrath. In and on account of Christ, the redeemed world is justified.

  28. I would say that it is a free thing to use the words OJ or not. It is an open question. The battle is unnecessary. Best construction both sides are right! The difference is not, as I see it, dogmatic but exegetic. We all teach that Christ has paid for the sins of the whole world (satisfactio vicaria) and that a man must believe to recieve forgiveness. Some believe the justification in Rom 4:25 is about satisfactio vicaria, OJ, others think it is about the subjective justification, by faith. Both interpretations are possible!

    A thorough study for the theologian:
    http://luk.se/Justification-Easter.htm

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