Justification Central to Lutheran Hymnody

My parents did not teach my siblings and me to be hymn-Nazis. Rather, they simply taught us good hymns and good theology, and they encouraged us to keep singing good hymns and to read good theology. So for my first post on BJS, I would like to briefly give my case for why I can hardly stand one particular hymn: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts (LSB 425, 426).

The hymn does not once mention the forgiveness of sins, the cancellation of guilt, Christ bearing our sins or satisfying the wrath of God, or anything about the merit of Christ’s passive obedience credited to us poor sinners. It seems as though Watts based this hymn off of Philippians 3:7- 8 where Paul says that he counts all his works but loss for the sake of Christ. One can hardly criticize him for paraphrasing Paul’s powerful words in Philippians 3; however, he did not include the full thrust of Paul’s words:

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Phil 3:8b-9)

Watts fails to include the comforting promise of the alien righteousness credited to us by faith. Instead, the hymn dwells on the self discipline the Christian undertakes by meditating on the cross of Christ. Certainly, there is nothing blatantly erroneous in Watt’s hymn; however, this apparently cross-centered hymn fails to express the central theme of the Atonement, the great and blessed exchange where God’s wrath on all mankind and His mercy on all mankind meet in the suffering of His own Son. We like to call this Objective Justification.

Last summer I was talking theology with my brother Stephen, and naturally, we stumbled onto the topic of justification and the preaching of the gospel. After we agreed that it is unacceptable for a pastor to preach a sermon without preaching the atonement and the forgiveness of sins (which did not take long), my brother eventually referred me to an article that Dr. Kurt Marquart wrote, entitled “The Reformation Roots of ‘Objective Justification.'” As I read the article, I noticed that Marquart quoted Luther in Against the Heavenly Prophets. Here is what Luther said, as quoted by Marquart (The Reformation Roots of “Objective Justification.” A Lively Legacy: Essays in Honor of Robert Preus. 1985, pg 124):

If now I seek the forgiveness of sins, I do not run to the cross, for I will not find it given there. Nor must I hold to the suffering of Christ, as Dr. Karlstadt trifles, in knowledge or remembrance, for I will not find it there either. But I will find in the sacrament or gospel the word which distributes, presents, offers, and gives to me that forgiveness which was won on the cross. (LW, 40, 212-13)

Marquart continues to demonstrate that Objective Justification is simply the objective promise, which is the Gospel. But this promise is not merely information. He writes (127):

Far from being a mere reminder or ‘assurance’ of a forgiveness we already have in some other way, the Gospel is God’s actual – and only – means of granting forgiveness…

This “only means of granting forgiveness” has been taught by faithful Lutheran parents to their children and faithful pastors to their congregations for hundreds of years. Reading this article deepened my conviction that Watts’ hymn is far from Lutheran, which makes sense, since he wasn’t a Lutheran. As much as Justification is the central article of Lutheran theology, it should remain the central theme for Lutheran doxology. Doxology which is not evangelically didactic is a waste of time. Especially when we sing hymns about the cross, the words should edify us by teaching the truth of the cross: “One has died for all, therefore all have died… For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:14b, 21)”

 


 

Biographical info:

My name is Andrew Preus. I grew up mainly in northern Minnesota, and I earned my BA at University of Minnesota, Morris. I am in my final academic year at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, ON, at which I am also the editor for our student journal Propter Christum. I am married, and my wife and I have one son. I come from a family of twelve children, and my dad is a pastor up in North Dakota and northern Minnesota. So far seven of my brothers are either in the seminary or are already pastors. I love to talk theology, and throughout my studies, I pray for a deeper understanding of that Love of God which surpasses all understanding.

About Pastor Andrew Preus

Pastor Andrew Preus is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran/St. Paul Lutheran, Guttenberg/McGregor, IA. He is the eighth of eleven sons, with one sister. He received his seminary training at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, ON (MDiv) from 2009 to 2013, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (STM) from 2013 to 2014. His main theological interests include Justification and Church and Ministry. He is married to Leah Preus (nee Fehr), and they have four children: Jacob, Solveig, Kristiana, and Robert.

Comments

Justification Central to Lutheran Hymnody — 552 Comments

  1. Brett Meyer :
    @Jim Pierce #100
    “You also reject that the whole world was reconciled to God at the cross of Christ.”
    Yes, I reject that the whole unbelieving world was forgiven at the cross.
    Yes, I reject that the whole world has been declared reconciled to God. Reconciliation to God the Father only comes through Christ alone. I think you would agree with that.

    Yes thank you for reaffirming your confession contrary to the confession Lutherans subscribe to in article XI of the Solid Declaration. Chemnitz writes,

    “15] 1. That the human race is truly redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ, who, by His faultless [innocency] obedience, suffering, and death, has merited for us the righteousness which avails before God, and eternal life.
    16] 2. That such merit and benefits of Christ shall be presented, offered, and distributed to us through His Word and Sacraments.”

    And, Mr. Meyer, I voiced a suspicion since both you and Lito are well on your way to confessing that Christ made satisfaction only for the sins of those who have faith in Him, and not for the whole world. But, I didn’t state you believe as much, but I would not be surprised if that happened to come out at some point as your confession evolves.

  2. I will re-assert my point about the Greek in Romans 4 and 5 since it still stands. What support do you have from the grammar of koine Greek to make the claim that justification is to be translated the way LPC asserts that it must be? To claim that dia+accusative of justification must be translated in a way that is against the principles of Greek grammar is to bring ones own theological suppositions into the grammatical translation process and overlay them on the text. Then the text is translated, not as it should be, but rather according to ones already pre-conceived notions. While one can never be (at least honestly) a completely objective reader of the text, the move by LPC is blatantly a subjective translation move designed to make the text fit his theology rather than allowing his theology to be shaped by the text.

  3. @Brett Meyer #98

    Except for the fact Brett the neither the Bible nor the Confessions use words in an absolutely uniform manner. Unless these documents are contradicting themselves (which they are not!!) then a person has to interpret them and figure out their conceptual unity.

    Case-in-point: The use of the word “faith” means something different in Paul, Hebrews, and James. In the Confessions themselves, the word “justification” means imputation or regeneration according to the Apology, or just imputation in the FC.

    This should all be pretty obvious.

  4. @Jim Pierce #102
    Mr. Pierce,
    You harpoon the whale you are trying to save.

    I qoute your quote: 16] 2. That such merit and benefits of Christ shall be presented, offered, and distributed to us through His Word and Sacraments.”

    The merits and benefits of Christ are only distributed through the Means of Grace. That’s been my point. UOJ distributes the merit and benefits of Christ without the Means of Grace, without faith.

    The merits and benefits of Christ being – 1. His Righteousness for a renewed spirit, the forgiveness of sins (justification) and eternal life.

    Note the human race is redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ – but no one is in Christ except through faith.

    Through does not = in
    Offered does not = distributed
    Promise does not = declared

  5. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #104
    “Unless these documents are contradicting themselves (which they are not!!) then a person has to interpret them and figure out their conceptual unity.”

    I disagree, Scripture interprets Scripture.

    2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

  6. Brett Meyer :
    The merits and benefits of Christ are only distributed through the Means of Grace. That’s been my point. UOJ distributes the merit and benefits of Christ without the Means of Grace, without faith.

    No, the teaching of OJ states no such thing. Once again we are dealing with your willful ignorance regarding what OJ actually teaches versus your imaginary foe.

    Needless to say, you completely ignore Chemnitz’s statement, “15] 1. That the human race is truly redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ, who, by His faultless [innocency] obedience, suffering, and death, has merited for us the righteousness which avails before God, and eternal life.”

    Notice that Chemnitz is talking about the human race and he clearly states they have been “reconciled with God.” This happened by Christ’s “faultless [innocency] obedience, suffering, and death” on the cross, “which merited for us the righteousness which avails before God.” Merited for whom? The referent of “us”… the human race. What is merited for the human race? Righteousness. Chemnitz tells us in SD XI, 14 that this is what “God in His purpose and counsel ordained [decreed].” This is OJ, plain and simple.

  7. @Brett Meyer #105

    Brett- Again, when you take things out of context that I say and attribute to me positions which I obviously don’t hold, then it doesn’t make a good case for your position. Yes, obviously Scripture interprets Scripture. But that means a comparing Scriptural texts, understanding their context in the canon, and the overall intention of the author. And therefore your procedure of simply citing texts without context or interpretation makes no sense. Neither does your claim that they are simply self-explanatory in isolaton. Moreover, if interpretation is unnecessary, then why have Confessions or Creeds? Why write theology books or sermons. Historically, the entire point of the sermon is to explain the text to the congregation. In your view then, what would the point be?

  8. @Jim Pierce #107
    Mr. Pierce,
    Your whale cannot take many more harpoonings.

    “…has merited for us the righteousness which avails before God, and eternal life.”

    If you distribute the righteous merit of Christ to the whole unbelieving world by this text then you must also distribute the eternal life merit of Christ to the whole unbelieving world by this text. That would be Universalism.

    Christ’s righteousness, forgiveness of sins, eternal life. You cannot distribute one without the others.

  9. @Brett Meyer #108

    Along time ago, in a posting far, far, away, Dr. Kilcrease dealt with your error over “distribution.” OJ does not teach that righteousness is distributed to particular individuals outside the means of grace. You insist that OJ teaches that, but you are mistaken. And you still aren’t dealing with what Chemnitz states about the reconciliation of the world, the human race.

  10. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #108
    “Doctrinal indifference is at once the root of unionism and its fruit. Whoever accepts, in theory as well as in practice, the absolute authority of the Scriptures and their unambiguousness with reference to all fundamental doctrines, must be opposed to every form of unionism.”
    M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940, p. 20.

  11. @Brett Meyer #110

    Brett, remember where I just said attributing positions to your opponents that they don’t hold makes you look dishonest and unsympathetic? You just compounded that. Also, this is basically a non sequitor. It has nothing to do with what we were talking about. In fact, I was arguing in favor of Creeds and Confessions, which is pretty much the opposite of doctrinal indifference.

  12. @Rev. McCall #88

    @Rev. McCall #102

    Rev. McCall, there is actually nothing from a grammatical perspective that is wrong with Dr. Cruz’s interpretation of 4:25.

    Michael Bird has an essay A Fresh Look at Romans 4:25 where he discusses the three ways the dia+accusitive phrases can be understood. Here is a link

    http://colloquiumjournal.org/back-issues/Coll35.1/Bird.pdf

    He gives the following verses as examples of dia+accusitive having a futuristic orientation:
    Matt 24:22; Mark 2:27; John 11:42; 12:30; 1 Cor 11:9.

  13. @Steven Goodrich #113
    None of those verses support that idea. Tell me how you translate any of those verses to properly reveal this “futuristic aspect” because none of the translations I have support or even imply that. In specific, Matthew 24 actually contains a future tense verb that explicitly implies future. The dia+accusative is actually translated best as “for the sake of the elect” and only has a future tense later on because of the future tense verb used in the sentence. It is not, “for the future sake of the elect” it is a here and now reality. I have no idea how you think any of the others have this idea of a “view to the future”. All imply an immediate connection, not one actualized or realized in some future time. Man being created for woman and woman for man is not with a “view to the future” it is true right then and here and now. Same with the sabbath being created for man. That is a right here and now aspect, not this futuristic orientation. I would posit that someone simply developed or invented this “third futuristic use of dia+accusative” to serve a theological presupposition. Anything that says, “A Fresh Look at…” implies a man who has invented his own theology and is now going to re-interpret Scripture in light of that said theology. I stopped reading the minute your author stated he doubted Pauline authorship of parts of Romans. The man can’t get authorship right and yet we are to accept his premise about grammar?

  14. @T. R. Halvorson #57
    Excellent. Thank you for doing solid leg work on this, Herr Halvorson, und Herr McCall, und Herr Kilcrease.

    My (seeming *much*, though it was only Friday, and I was a “bit” busy on Sat. and Sun.) earlier comments regarding the willfulness of unbelief the *activity* of unbelief (not believing that Christ atoned for “me” when He atoned for “all”, refusing to believe that the Father has declared that His sacrifice on the cross is sufficient for all, including me, etc.) is connected also with something C.S. Lewis wrote (I think in the preface to Screwtape Letters), something to the effect: There are 2 kinds of people in this world–those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God will say, “*Thy* will be done.”

    I still suspect that LPC, Meyer, etc., are (without realizing it) not taking this willfulness/the *active* nature of the unbelief that is the natural condition of man since the Fall into account. I’m seeing this as a problem in anthropology, originally.

    And now, my thinking is taking me into Romans 7–the “simul justus et peccator” stuff. At the same time just and sinner; at the same time believer and unbeliever. For what is the nature of sin but unbelief?

    Now, having realized that this is a conversation that has been held many times over with these particular folks, *and* having more worthwhile things to do than smack my head against a brick wall (though the conversation has made me think through things, again, which is not a bad thing, to be sure), I will happily drop entirely out of this one.

  15. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #113 referencing
    @Brett Meyer #111

    “the absolute authority of the Scriptures and their unambiguousness with reference to all fundamental.”

    am·bi·gu·i·ty?
    noun, plural -ties.
    1. doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: to speak with ambiguity; an ambiguity of manner.
    2. an unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc.: a contract free of ambiguities; the ambiguities of modern poetry.

    @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #108
    Dr. Kilcrease stated, “But that means a comparing Scriptural texts, understanding their context in the canon, and the overall intention of the author. And therefore your procedure of simply citing texts without context or interpretation makes no sense. Neither does your claim that they are simply self-explanatory in isolaton.”

    Scripture is self explanatory in isolation because it is God’s Word, there is no ambiguity which requires man’s rational explanation.

    The kicker is that nobody understands nor accepts what Scripture clearly teaches unless the Holy Spirit graciously works that understanding in them. That’s why I’m not mad at you guys. This indeed has been a fruitful and enjoyable discussion concerning the central doctrine of God’s Word – Justification.

  16. @Brett Meyer #118

    Brett, You seriously need to study Reformation hermeneutics. You said a while back to me that you took my advice and read “Bondage of the Will.” Read what Luther says about the clarity of Scripture. He says that according to what he calls “the external clarity” not all passages of Scripture are totally clear. Why not? Because we don’t know the grammar or word usage perfectly. There are the clearer spots and they can be used to clarify the less clear ones. This is basic Lutheran stuff. So, yeah, you do need to compare passages and contextually figure out word-usage. Luther and subsequent Lutheran theology has always said so. Considering the variation of word-usage in the Bible, it’s amazing to me that you would assert this. It’s really odd.

    If you’re interested in learning more about all this, I would recommend my introductory essay to Flacius’ book on the subject of hermeneutics:

    http://magdeburgpress.com/

    We’re publishing an essay collection from our conference, so look for that as well.

  17. @Rev. McCall #116

    What the author actually says is that Romans 4:25 is probably a pre-Pauline liturgical formula. If you had continued reading you would have read that.

    On a more germane note, I think we are talking past each other with regards to the dia+accusitive phrases. By futuristic orientation I did not mean that in a temporal sense but in a logical sense. Let me start over. I will just quote the BAGD:

    2. marker of someth. constituting cause
    a. the reason why someth. happens, results, exists: because of, for the sake of

    In the interest of full disclosure I agree with the Brief Statement on UOJ.

  18. “The kicker is that nobody understands nor accepts what Scripture clearly teaches unless the Holy Spirit graciously works that understanding in them. That’s why I’m not mad at you guys. This indeed has been a fruitful and enjoyable discussion concerning the central doctrine of God’s Word – Justification.”

    Anyways, I don’t think anyone would disagree with you that one needs the Holy Spirit to understand the central content of the Bible. But this is what Luther calls “internal clarity” and does not exclude the need to understand the external clarity. Moreover, since the Spirit only comes through the Word, one doesn’t get the internal clarity if one has messed up the external clarity.

  19. I thought he specifically said that he doubted the Pauline authoriship of 4:25b, you are correct that I may need to read further. We may indeed be talking past one another. I think perhaps the term “view to the future” needs to be defined when it comes to this dia+accusative. I think in LPC’s usage of this idea it actually takes on more of a future conditional type meaning therefore rendering Romans 4:25 to mean in essence that we are justified only in the future when if/when we come to faith.

  20. Steven Goodrich :
    @Rev. McCall #116
    What the author actually says is that Romans 4:25 is probably a pre-Pauline liturgical formula. If you had continued reading you would have read that.
    On a more germane note, I think we are talking past each other with regards to the dia+accusitive phrases. By futuristic orientation I did not mean that in a temporal sense but in a logical sense. Let me start over. I will just quote the BAGD:
    2. marker of someth. constituting cause
    a. the reason why someth. happens, results, exists: because of, for the sake of

    In the interest of full disclosure I agree with the Brief Statement on UOJ.

    To continue, I think that is the latter sense that Lito intends by his phrase “view to the future”, but I may be wrong.

  21. I honestly must still be missing something here. How is this a “view to the future”?

  22. The ironic thing is that in spite of all Jackson’s alleged scholarship, he actually never received a solid Lutheran theological education, and that shows in all his weird rants and ravings. A shame he has gathered a tiny little band of Internet followers around him. Deceiving and being deceived.

  23. @Rev. McCall #126
    “I honestly must still be missing something here. How is this a “view to the future”?”

    Without faith in Christ nobody is accounted by God to be justified, forgiven of all sin, and righteous. The sequence of the verses below clearly show that man is justified only by faith and to stiffarm (Go Giants!) the UOJ claim that God only Objectively declares the whole unbelieving word justified and righteous, Scripture declares it’s only by faith that we have peace with God. Anything not of faith is sin. Without faith in Christ there is only God’s wrath and condemnation.

    Good point for those confronted with the Romans 4:25 UOJ argument – always include the contiguous verses in Romans 5.

    ROMANS

    4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

    4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

    4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

    4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

    4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

    4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

    5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

    5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

  24. To UOJ fides difensor in this thread,

    I am quite flattered that many of you have proposed what I might be thinking or what could be going on in my mind, I just hope you are all qualified pscyho-analysts, last time I look, it could land people in jail who practice this discipline without a license.

    Thanks to Steve in recognizing that there was nothing wrong or objectionable to my Greel interpretation of Romans 4:25 in the below comment.

    @Steven Goodrich #113

    @Rev. McCall #125

    Sir we will be talking past each other if you do not consult independent exegetical work. The question on “with the view to our justification” is found in the works I have cited in

    @Lito P. Cruz, PhD #84

    I suggest you please consult a commentary in whom the person commenting have no dog in the race of UOJ vs JBFA debate.

    @Jim Pierce #87

    Jim,

    It is rather unfair to put out the comments because that will involve a lot of typing. I have given you the books because there you will have accessible in front of you the evidence for you to thoroughly examine. I can notdo the hard yakka of studying for you Jim, that is your responsibility.

    Before you ask your pastor, I suggest if you are searching for the truth, indeed do not take my word for it, rather you consult an independent NT professor, a fellow who has no interest in our debate. That would be the way to go.

    I am in my office and I do not have all my books with me, but by God’s providence last night before ending the day, I again took my Lenski’s Commentary to Romans (ST. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans 1- 7) and dropped it in my bag intending to study it.

    R. Lenski, up to now, hold the respect of Evangelical commentators, I say this only to show why he as an NT expert is respected by people outside his camp, and by people who have no interest one way or another on UOJ/JBFA debate. He enjoys the respect of outsiders.

    Yes, he is now gone and dead, but his work is still standard reference, along with Sanday and Headlam’s as standard reference in an exegetical course in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

    Here is a quote from his Romans 4:25 comments:

    “Our” transgressions. “our” being declared righteous, as in other similar expressions, speak of the believers alone because in them the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection is fully realized. The fact that Chriest died also for those who deny him and bring swift destruction on themselves(2 Pet. 2:1) does not need to be introduced here. The two “our” prevent us from making dia thn dikaiwsin hmon signify the justification of the whole world instead of “our justification.” “our” referring to us believers (personal justification). It is this justification with which the entire chapter (Romans 4) deals and constantly also emphasizes faith. Dikaiwsis occurs only twice in the NT, here and in Romans 5:18; in the LXX only in Lev. 24:22. Its meaning is settled in (Romans) 4:1 which see.

    The fact that personal justification is referred to and not justification of the whole world is seen also from (Romans) 5:1: “Having been declared righteous out of faith”, etc. “Our” ins (Romans) 4:25 (our “transgressions–our being declared righteous”) and the “we” in (Romans) 5:1 cannot refer to different persons; nor diakiwsis hmen (4:25) and dikaiwthentes (5:1) that follows in the next breath signify two different acts, one that is without faith, the other with faith— R. C. H. Lenski [emphasis mine]

    There is no point discussing with you people anymore, I cannot change your opinion with facts and evidences so to quote yourself Jim, I must leave you to dialogue amongst yourselves and self-congratulate yourselves, I must leave you in your own devices.

    LPC

  25. I’m going to throw this little tidbit into the mix. According to the study notes in the Concordia Study Bible NIV concerning Romans 3:22-24, it talks about basically this: The reading of the passages from Romans 3 is this since part of it is a parenthetical thought: “22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe [There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God] 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” So the meaning actually says: “22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Because believers are sinners and fall short of the glory of God). If you look at the English of the King James Authorized 1611, you will see how the punctuation sets this off.

  26. Kretzmann’s take on Romans 4:25 follows, although I dislike the word “accept” (with today’s rampant decision theology) and would substitute it with “receive”:

    V.23. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, v.24. but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus, our Lord, from the dead; v.25. who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. What is written of Abraham in this chapter and in other parts of the Bible, especially in the book of Genesis, is not written for the sake of Abraham alone. The story of the faith and consequent justification of Abraham was not included in Scriptures with the mere intention of offering a correct history of the patriarch, to let posterity know that his faith was imputed to him for righteousness. Throughout the discussion, Abraham must he regarded as a representative of all believers. What became true in his case will become true of all men that stand in the same relation to God. The Lord has only one method of justifying sinners. So the record of Abraham’s faith is preserved for our sake, for the sake of the believers of the New Testament; for it is the intention of God that the same righteousness is to be imputed to us also, if we believe on Him that raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead. Jesus was not one of the ordinary mortals whom the almighty power of God called back to life in a miracle, such as are recorded in the gospels and in several books of the Old Testament, but He is the Lord, our great Representative and Head. And therefore the act of raising Jesus from the dead was a proclamation that He is in reality what He claimed to be, the Son of God and our Redeemer. Since the resurrection of Christ was the decisive evidence of the divinity of His work and the validity of all His claims, therefore to believe that He arose from the dead is to believe that He is the Son of God, the atonement for our sins, the Redeemer and Lord of men. He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. On account of our offenses, our sins and transgressions, God raised Christ from the dead, because His object was to justify us, and this object was attained in the resurrection. Thus the resurrection of Christ effected our justification. The expiation through Christ’s sufferings on the cross, the atonement of death, have been sealed by the resurrection of Christ; for it is a declaration before all the world that the object of Christ’s death has been gained, that God has accepted the reconciliation, that the victory of Jesus is a formal and solemn absolution which God has pronounced upon sinful mankind. And so He is our Lord, and we have become His own. By the faith which God wrought in our hearts, we have accepted His atonement and are declared to be righteous in the sight of God.

  27. @boogie #132
    Interesting how Kretzmann teaches UOJ. At first he remains faithful to Scripture and teaches that the righteousness of Christ is only imputed to man through faith just as Abraham was declared righteous by faith alone.

    He then goes on to confess UOJ, “On account of our offenses, our sins and transgressions, God raised Christ from the dead, because His object was to justify us, and this object was attained in the resurrection. Thus the resurrection of Christ effected our justification. The expiation through Christ’s sufferings on the cross, the atonement of death, have been sealed by the resurrection of Christ; for it is a declaration before all the world that the object of Christ’s death has been gained, that God has accepted the reconciliation, that the victory of Jesus is a formal and solemn absolution which God has pronounced upon sinful mankind

    How is the whole unbelieving world (sinful mankind) absolved of all sin while not having the righteousness of Christ? It’s Christ’s righteousness, which is faith, through which we die to sin and are raised again to life, the forgiveness of sins and salvation. Kretzmann teaches a blanket absolution (Andrew likes the term non-imputation) of all sin without the Means of Grace working repentance and faith in Christ alone.

    This is not Scriptural or Confessional.

  28. @boogie #131
    @Brett Meyer #132
    I am familiar with this commentary and take on Romans 4:25.

    However, Kretzmann as far as I know is used by no one else except in Lutheran internal seminaries who have already a predisposition to UOJ in the first place.

    Note he does not deal with the original text.

    This is not true for the case of R. C. H. Lenski whose work is used by non-Lutherans as well.

    The discipline of NT Scholarship is a lot more definitive than the discipline of systematic theology which is more fluid and subject to philosophical interpretations.

    @Rev. Paul T. McCain #126

    That is why you are not a scholar McCain you have been indoctrinated internally and are oblivious to your own blind spots.

    Physical in-breeding produces all sorts of physical irregularities in human beings. God forbids it for us to marry and produce children from our relatives.

    The same is true in the area of the intellect. Intellectual in-breeding produces monstrous ideas, such as teaching the whole world has been declared righteous already.

    Where I live, when it comes to non-natural sciences where schools of thoughts prevail, your department head will not allow you to come back and take your doctorate with them if you have already taken your masters with them. They see such a desire as intellectual in-breeding.

    They hate intellectually in-bred graduates.

    LPC

  29. @Brett Meyer #132

    How is the whole unbelieving world (sinful mankind) absolved of all sin while not having the righteousness of Christ?

    In the same way that everyone present at a typical Divine Service is absolved (Sins are pronounced remitted on account of Christ’s holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death.) even though not everyone receives absolution (remittance of sins).
    In a typical Divine Service, there are both believers and unbelievers present. The Lutheran pastor recites the following words after the congregation has confessed their sins, “Upon this your confession, I by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! Amen!”

    Now then since both believers and unbelievers are present, not everyone’s sins are absolved because those without faith do not receive the absolution that was just announced.

  30. @Steven Goodrich #134

    Hang on you said
    In the same way that everyone present at a typical Divine Service is absolved even though not everyone receives absolution

    There is some equivocation operating in this statement.

    How is a person absolved and does not receive absolution?

    If you are already absolved what is the absolution that is not received? It is already there.

    Now then since both believers and unbelievers are present, not everyone’s sins are absolved because those without faith do not receive the absolution that was just announced.

    So you are absolved but does not receive absolution because of lack of faith.

    This is just like saying, to a woman, lady you are already impregnated but you did not receive the impregnation because you lacked faith.

    I apologize for the crass analogy but it drives the point.

    This is very poor, this is arguing NOT from Scripture but arguing from practice.

    Over here the liturgical formula goes like this…

    The pastor asks the question, do you believe you have sinned?
    You say “I do”.

    Do you believe that Jesus Christ has redeemed you from your sin and do you desire forgiveness in his name?
    You say “I do”.

    Then the pastor says, I as a called and ordained servant of the Word announce the grace of God unto all of you and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive the sins of all of you who repent and believe.

    Notice the bolded words, those words are always there. That is the practice of LCAus.

    This argumentation you just presented is quite poor because it is not direct evidence from Scripture. Liturgical practices slightly vary from place to place.

    I have no argument if you have a criticism of my synod, you can take that up with them but the answer you offered to Brett’s question is arguing from practice not arguing from Scripture.

    My point is that the liturgical argument you just presented is negated by the practice of my synod and the pastors here.

    I got no problem if you wish to bag LCAus’ liturgical practice, I have no dog in that fight.

    If your theology you espouse is UOJ already then you will just tailor fit the liturgy to comply with that theology.

    So I gave you a counter example where your proposed answer does not work.

    LPC

  31. @Lito Cruz, PhD #135

    There is some equivocation operating in this statement. How is a person absolved and does not receive absolution?

    Because one can refuse to trust that the declaration (Upon this your confession, I by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! Amen!”) applies to them.

    This is just like saying, to a woman, lady you are already impregnated but you did not receive the impregnation because you lacked faith.

    I apologize for the crass analogy but it drives the point.

    No, it is not just like that because a woman can’t refuse to be in a state of impregnation after she has been impregnated.

    An appropriate comparison would be the one Luther gives. A king bequeaths his castle to his son, but the son refuses to live in the castle. Another appropriate example would be something like Edward VIII abdicating the throne.

    This is very poor, this is arguing NOT from Scripture but arguing from practice

    It is arguing from a practice that is shared by both some of UOJ crowd and some of SJO crowd. Obviously not you, but this is the practice of Dr. Jackson, Brett Meyer, and others.

    If your theology you espouse is UOJ already then you will just tailor fit the liturgy to comply with that theology.

    Well since I am just a layman and not on the Synodical Board for Worship, I can’t really “tailor fit the liturgy to comply with my theology” nor would I.

  32. @Steven Goodrich #136

    You said Well since I am just a layman and not on the Synodical Board for Worship, I can’t really “tailor fit the liturgy to comply with my theology” nor would I.

    Agreed, but since your Synodical Board of Worship are UOJers, it has already been tailor fitted for you. The practice is based on that theology, a priori.

    LPC

  33. My final comment on the Greek of Romans and then I have a sermon and Bible class to prepare. We used to joke in seminary that for uses of the dative you could just make something up and chances were that some “scholar” out there had developed such a similar idea. (For instance, this must be a “dative with respect to the use of eating utensils”). The joke, if you didn’t get it, is that you can make grammar do whatever you want, and can even make up rules about it based on ones observations of the text (supposedly). So you can take an extremely rare use of dia+accusative and make it fit certain half verses of Scripture, ignoring the first half of the same verse as well as 5:18 later on. Absolutely. But again, that’s bad grammar and that is working against the text to make a certain theology fit. That would be like taking John 1 where there is an indefinite article and saying, rather than go with Caldwells rule, I will apply the extremely rare 13% use and say that this means it should be translated, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was ‘a’ god.” Grammatically you can do it! This is also like the paper I read from an ELCA church supporting homosexuality as God-pleasing. From the Greek they found some 3rd of 4th historical use of the Greek word that implyed homosexuality was wrong only as a forced eunuch type position. They then took Paul’s own words in the Greek text and applyed this narrow, never used meaning (if it was even true at all) and said, “Ah ha! From the text we can see that Paul is only talking about this certain aspect and not all homosexuality, therefore it is OK!” Just because you can do it grammatically does not mean you should or that it is even being textually faithful. God Bless guys and thanks for making me do a bunch of extra Greek translating this week!

  34. @Rev. McCall #138

    You can do a lot of things if you want to, but it is the context that will tell if what you are doing is sound or you are simply coercing the text to fit your theory.

    In the case of Lenski’s he was very sound because he did not interpret Romans 4:25 as a text isolated from the rest of the chapters, he looked at the passages before it and after it.

    That is why Lenski is relied on by those who are not even Lutherans. Just about the only people I know who rubbish him are LC-MS/WELS UOJ fanatics because he was man enough to reject the UOJ myth.

    LPC

  35. @Lito Cruz #139
    Romans 4:25 *in its context*: You are choosing to work the logic one direction and the context does not demand that you do. It is at least as natural to understand :25 as the *foundation*–the logically preceding condition upon which that faith rests, the *content* of that faith: “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” The external, preceding, and yes, even universal declaration of “Justified” by the Father in the death and resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the individual’s faith.
    In fact, the 3rd, sing. *aorist* passives: paredothee and eegerthee indicate this.
    And the parallelism within this verse puts the atonement of the 1st half (delivered up because of/for our offenses) and the justification of the 2nd half (raised because of/for our justification) into an inseparable linkage. The point has already been made that if you want “our” in the second half of the verse to refer *only* to believers, you logically must make “our” in the first half refer *only* to believers, and now you have arrived at a limited atonement.

    This is *not* to ignore the context–to be sure, Paul is writing in the broader context of what we have come to call “subjective justification”, but here he is indicating the “objective” foundation for it. To deny objective justification as the foundation for subjective justification through faith moves you in the direction of gratia infusa, at best, if not more crassly toward faith as the one good work that saves.

  36. Just used the Edit feature–totally cool! (mistakenly put “1st” when I wanted “3rd”)

  37. As for Lenski–“My authority is more widely accepted than yours!” So? Just because heterodox teachers use him more widely than they use PE doesn’t mean Lenski is right. Your argumentation on that issue is rather disappointing.

  38. When your Layman’s eyes start spinning over this thread all that you need to know to be always with your Lord and Savior is this:

    The Third Article.

    Of Sanctification.

    I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

    What does this mean?–Answer.

    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him;

    but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith;

    even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith;

    in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

  39. I agree with your theology but think you’re overly critical of Watt’s hymn. You could equally criticize the gospel writers who certainly could have, but did not, include a fully-blown elaboration of the gospel as Paul gives us in Romans. Jesus said when he was “lifted up” he would draw us to him. “he said this to show” his coming manner of death – the cross. The gospels do that. Watts’ hymn does that beautifully. Not every hymn needs to do the entire job the same way. the liturgy does not fully explain the gospel, for that matter. You need not take one good hymn from us to give us another. The Lord on the cross is the heart of the gospel…and that’s what the hymn describes. Paul explains.

  40. @John #148
    Watts’s hymn is weak. It is not, by any means, one of the “good” hymns. It can be carried along by and be part of the “very good” of a truly Christ-crucified-centered liturgy/Divine Service, such that its anthropocentrism/”I-Me”-centrism is mitigated, such that, in spite of its words, the people singing do indeed think of Christ. But the words of that hymn are sadly ironic–it’s *all* about “I” “my” “me”, and what *I* do, even as the “I” in it purports to be contemplating the cross of Christ. Standing alone, it is simply another example of protestantism that *assumes* the Gospel (and thus loses it), in order to get to the sanctification part that “I really want to focus on”.
    I will continue to use it, carefully. But I cannot call it a good hymn. And I don’t want my people considering it a “favorite”. Far, far better, for example, is “The Royal Banners Forward Go”, or “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” or even “Glory Be to Jesus”.

    To all: Most holy and blessed Pascha to you, for Jesus’ sake!

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