Objective Justification and Rome

About a year ago one of my professors gave me the lecture notes of my grandfather, Robert Preus, from when he taught a course on Justification at St. Catharines back in the 80’s. According to Dr. Jackson, Preus was an adherent of Objective Justification at that time, but Jackson claims that he demonstrates in his essay “Justification and Rome” that he had a breakthrough and realized that this is not a Lutheran teaching. The lecture notes consist of twenty pages of quotes from the Lutheran Church Fathers on Justification, and most of these quotes are found in his “Justification and Rome.” One of the quotes comes from Abraham Calov’s Apodixis articulorum fidei (Lüneberg, 1684, p. 249), and Jackson cites this quote in Preus’ book as proof that he denied Objective Justification by the end of his life. Here is the quote (quoted in “Justification and Rome, 131, n74):

Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God’s children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe.

Now, Jackson also likes to point out what Preus wrote on page 72:

When does the imputation of Christ’s righteousness take place? It did not take place when Christ, by doing and suffering, finished the work of atonement and reconciled the world to God. Then and there, when the sins of the world were imputed to Him and He took them, Christ became our righteousness and procured for us remission of sin, justification, and eternal life. “By thus making satisfaction He procured and merited (acquisivit et promeruit) for each and every man remission of all sins, exemption from all punishments of sin, grace and peace with God, eternal righteousness and salvation.” [quoting Quenstedt] But the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner takes place when the Holy Spirit brings him to faith through Baptism and the Word of the Gospel. Our sins were imputed to Christ at His suffering and death, imputed objectively after He, by His active and passive obedience, fulfilled and procured all righteousness for us. But the imputation of His righteousness to us takes place when we are brought to faith. (72)

So Preus discusses here the distinction between procured and imputed righteousness. Jackson evidently does not see the procuring of Christ’s righteousness for all as part of Objective Justification. I suppose he is right that Quenstedt does not specifically say that God justified the world in Christ. Calov never used the term justification apart from faith. But this does not mean that they did not understand and teach the concept of Objective Justification. Preus gives a good explanation for the lack of outright Objective Justification language in the Lutheran Church Fathers. In his lecture notes, he writes (pg. 11):

Although the orthodox Lutherans do not make a great point out of a concept of universal justification, as they do against the Calvinists in the case of universal grace, universal atonement, redemption and reconciliation, they nevertheless do assert the doctrine when they believe the Scriptures demand it. Or they do so in passing when speaking in all sorts of contexts about the consequences of the work of Christ.

Preus then goes on to show that Sebastian Schmidt confesses the concept of Objective Justification in his Romans commentary (Hamburg, 1704, pg. 350). Schmidt, in discussing Romans 5:18, finds a distinction between dikaioma and dikaiosis. The former is a justifying righteousness which came to all men; the latter, set in opposition to katakrima (act of condemnation), is “the very act of justification whereby God justifies us.” Preus also quotes Schmidt in Latin earlier in his notes (pg. 8): “Christ was given up for the sake of the sins of the whole world. In like manner he was risen for the sake of our justification, hic est of the whole world.” (Schmidt 328) Christ became the righteousness of all; His resurrection proves it.

Jackson acts as if Preus had a huge breakthrough in his “Justification and Rome,” failing to realize that the Calov quote was in his lecture notes long before he wrote his essay; in these lecture notes he clearly confessed Objective Justification. If one believes Jackson that Robert Preus used this Calov quote in support of an apparent denial of Objective Justification, one would expect Preus to follow up this quote with such a denial. However, he instead shows the significance of what Calov is saying (“Justification and Rome” n74, pg. 131; c.f. Quenstedt Systema), showing that the Roman Catholics could not speak of forgiveness and righteousness as “objective realities which are offered in the Gospel.” For the Catholics, as opposed to the Lutherans, righteousness and forgiveness are only possibilities which become realities when one begins the process of justification/sanctification. The Gospel therefore is efficacious because it delivers that reality of righteousness and forgiveness already procured to all. Preus, then, demonstrates the reality of justification before faith, only that it is not imputed to me personally prior to faith. The only way one can conclude from “Justification and Rome” that Preus denied Objective Justification is if one reads it not in the context of his theological and scholarly life, but rather in light of one’s own presuppositions and reasoning.

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

Objective Justification and Rome — 154 Comments

  1. @Andrew Preus #44

    That’s outstanding, and in that connection, last night I was pondering the facts of Ex 25:22, where the mercy seat is the place whence God said He would speak.

    “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”

    How much or what kind of a tie does that make between Atonement and Word?

  2. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #49

    Being with someone is what makes one a witness to that person. That is how the apostles were witnesses to Christ (not leaving out that when the Comforter came, He guided them into all truth). Even enemies of Christ took note that the apostles has been with Jesus, which was a kind of qualifying attribute that outperformed the study and education that others had. Acts 4:13. For that reason, I put weight on what Mr. Gard said, and was glad that he shared is knowledge with us.

  3. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #48
    Jack-I think it is dangerous to presume God’s perspective. We do not know it. Period. He told Job in so many words. All we have is the Word and our reality. I also disagree that reconciliation is the exact same as justification as it seems you are saying.

  4. @Joe Krohn #53

    I’m not presuming anything. We have a word from God on this: “Lamb slain from the foudnation of the world” and Ephesians tells us that we were elected in Christ from the very foundation of the world. Our election presupposes God’s foreknowledge of the work of Christ and his acceptance of it. That’s why it’s “in Christ.” So, that God has in his eternal foreknowldge elected and reconciled us in Christ is explicitly taught by the Bible.

    “I also disagree that reconciliation is the exact same as justification as it seems you are saying.”

    I guess I don’t really know how they would be different. I think I know what you’re going to say: “Universal justification would mean that everyone is automatically saved, and therefore is universalism.” Except for the fact that it’s not, and we’ve been over this many, many times. And we’ve also been over the fact that the Father’s pronounciation of his universal word of justification is not the same thing as it being received and communicated to faith through the means of grace. So, I’m again puzzled by your continued insistence (much like the other Jackson sectarians) that we are teaching something that we are not teaching- namely, universalism. I guess I just don’t get what in it for you to invent a position which we obviously don’t hold.

  5. Pr. Rossow thanks for stepping in and calling a halt to the commentary being offered here by Lito Cruz, I urge similar action be taken against any and all coming on here advocating for Greg Jackson’s errors. I believe that these errors are very much a public skandalon/offense to the Body of Christ and of particular danger to the laity who will only ultimately, potentially, end up being confused and left to doubt the orthodox doctrine their pastors and others have taught them.

    I also do not believe it is fair for a seminarian to have to shoulder the burden of this public false teaching and responding to it.

    I would therefore respectfully urge BJS to consider banning those who are here, very intentionally, to try to spread the false doctrine of Jackson, errors that are attacks on the very heart of the Gospel.

    And as for Cruz’ gracious response to you, this is by no means the case. Somebody sent me the link to Jackson’s blog site where Jackson and Cruz excoriated you and the BJS site.

    Cruz said this about you: “Rossow stepping in shows he is afraid of something. He seems to be embarrassed by my question.”

    So, such is the deception of this group of errorists, and they crave attention.

  6. @Joe Krohn #58

    As Luther points out, the sacrifice of Christ as an isolated fact is inherently uninteresting. The Father must accept the sacrifice and pronounce his universal word of justification (Romans 4:25). He reveals this word of promise by his resurrection of Jesus from the dead in the power of the Spirit, the same Spirit who given to the disciples in order to preach the word of universal justification to the nations.

    The difficulty with your position is that it simply lays out atonement of the Son as some sort of discrete fact hanging out there with no inherent relationship to the Father and the Spirit. If that’s true of atonement, you lose both reaction of the Father to the Son’s sacrifice (meaning no resurrection, and no giving of the universal word of forgiveness), and also the role of the Spirit, who channels this word of reconciliation through the means of grace. Though atonement would be a fact, there would be no way for me to access that saving atonement- since there would be no Word of justification from the Father to receive and no Spirit to work faith in me.

  7. @Joe Krohn #58

    I am sorry, but that doesn’t tell me what you mean by the word “reconciliation.” What I am looking for is an explanation that shows Christ reconciled the world to His Father which doesn’t include the forgiveness of sins of the whole world for the sake of Christ. After all, that is what you are arguing?

  8. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #56

    > So, such is the deception of this group of errorists, and they crave attention.

    Correct. I have personal experience with them. Greg and his disciple (who named his son after Greg and wrote a poorly conceived, illiterate “book” that tried to take UOJ apart) nearly destroyed a faithful MO congregation. The congregation, fighting for the Gospel, disciplined the followers of Greg’s disciple (Greg had moved on). Manteuffel and Marquardt wrote papers supporting the congregation. The feckless synod disciplined the congregation.

  9. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #56

    > I also do not believe it is fair for a seminarian to have to shoulder the burden of this public false teaching and responding to it.

    I knew a seminarian, an ex-Calvinist, who was roped into this personally by Greg and his follower. The congregation told the seminary. The seminary stopped supplying field workers to the congregation.

  10. > Jackson cites this quote in Preus’ book as proof that he denied Objective Justification by the end of his life.

    Jackson’s first convert, in his bogus self-published “book,” dithered between insinuating that Walther had it wrong and quoting English translations of Walther where the indefinite “a” (as distinct from “the” justification) was applied to Christ’s one time justification of the world as though to imply that Walther taught that there was some other justification. Blasphemy.

  11. @Joe Krohn #63

    I’m sorry to press you more, but if you’re going to go around accusing us of breaking with historic biblical Lutheranism, I’m afraid that an appeal to your own “childlike faith” is not going to cut it. “Becoming as a little child” means to be humble and receptive to God’s grace. It is not mean and is not an excuse for (as it is frequently taken in popular American Christianity) anti-intellectualism. So, perhaps you can try to offer a more cogent answer to the questions and objections offered by Jim and I.

  12. @Joe Krohn #63

    I agree with Dr. Kilcrease above. Your answer is an attempt at deflection. I am asking for an explanation and not deflections. I don’t mind an answer of “I don’t know” but I think a more detailed answer is required given that you are supporting a sect which has clearly stated that not only is OJ a heresy, but those who hold to it believe a false gospel and are damned. So, if I am damned, then please patiently explain your doctrine of reconciliation for me. Thank you.

  13. @Jim Pierce #69
    I haven’t accused anyone here. Those are your words. I thought we were having a discussion.

    Answer this question. When the children of Israel were in the wilderness and they were bit by snakes; was it God who healed them through their faith when they looked on the brazen serpent for salvation as they were commanded? Or were they already healed…they just had to believe it?

  14. @Joe Krohn #70

    Again, Joe, why do you continue to follow this line of argument? No one is saying that people get saved without faith. No one. Why do you keep on insisting on this? The question is whether God’s Word of forgiveness is real and actualized prior to our reception of it in faith. The answer must of course be “Yes,” otherwise there would be no promise to believe in. If you want to get anywhere in this discussion, stop accuing people of positions which they demonstrably don’t believe in.

    BTW, the serpent was an objective reality with an objective promise of God attached to it, whether or not people believed in it. It didn’t materialize out of thin air after they had faith, even if in order to tap into its saving promise people had to trust in God’s Word. So, our theological point is actually supported by your example.

  15. The problem those who oppose the Gospel on these points have is that they are trying to anchor their hope and assurance of salvation on their faith. This is simply Calvinism in Lutheran disguise.

    I have, over the years, talked to many Calvinists, in person and over the Internet. I always ask them, “Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are among God’s elect and are saved?” There are generally two reactions to that question: (1) A long and rather painful pause after which they say, “I hope I am. I do believe in Christ.” or (2) A quick, “Yes, I believe in Christ.” Now, let’s be honest here and admit that many Lutherans would answer in somewhat the same way. But here is the problem.

    If our confidence that we are saved is based on our feeling that we have faith, we will flounder. The answer we must always give to the question of “Do you know you are saved?” is not, “Yes, because I have faith” but rather, “Yes, because Christ Jesus died for me” and of course, in my opinion, the very best answer of all is simply to point people to Luther’s explanation of the Creed and say, “Here, this puts it very well.”

    Never look to your subjective feeling that there is faith in your heart. Always, always, always, look to Christ and what He has done for you and the whole world. Do not confuse faith in faith, with trust in Christ. There is a key difference.

    We are Christians, not Faith-ians.

  16. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #72
    I got your unedited post, Rev. McCain. Duly noted. It is reckless to teach a forgiveness of sins of all people prior to Baptism and a hearing of the Word of God as no one is forgiven outside faith in Christ. I’m out.

  17. @Joe Krohn #70

    I don’t think I have read where you have accused anyone here, Joe. However, you do participate at Dr. Jackson’s website where for a fact it is declared that those who support OJ are heretics teaching a damnable false gospel. Do you believe OJ is a false gospel? Are we heretics, Joe?

    And, again, I agree with what Dr. Kilcrease writes above. I don’t deny that individuals are justified through God’s grace by faith alone in Jesus Christ.

    Here’s a thought regarding the example you provide from the old testament. When God placed the bronze serpent for the Israelites to look upon, was there a promise attached to the serpent? The answer is, of course, yes. The promise of God’s word was attached such that anyone looking upon the bronze serpent would be healed. THAT was an objective declaration. God didn’t say to Moses, “If the people believe when they look upon the serpent, then they will live.” No, God unconditionally promises to all, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8). I am not denying that individuals who were healed had faith. But, it would miss the point of the story to ignore the objective promise of God attached to the serpent which is what faith clings to for healing. If there was no declaration by God as to what was to occur, then there would have been no healing, since there would be nothing for faith to adhere to. Indeed, there is no real faith apart from the objective word of God which creates faith.

    I honestly can’t understand why you continue to deflect away from my question, asking you to express what reconciliation means.

  18. 2 Corinthians 5:19 clearly teaches that “reconciliation” means that God has forgiven the sins of the world on account of Christ’s saving work. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Cor. 5:19) If it weren’t so, then the atoning work of Christ would only make “forgiveness” possible and conditional. That God has reconciled the world in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them, makes all the difference in the world for one’s own personal assurance of a right standing with God. If I had to look to my “faith” as the thing that made my “forgiveness” real, then I could never be sure that I am forgiven.

    The denial of the Scriptual teaching of UOJ leads one inevitably into the key problem of Reformed theology (whether Calvinist or Arminian). It leads to to faith in “faith” rather than “faith in God’s saving work in Christ.” As Pastor McCain rightly says, “We are Christians not Faithians.”

  19. To Have Done with the Judgement of God, that was a radio play by Antonin Artaud from 1947.

    Lutherans too have the judgement of God in our past and it didn’t turn out too well for us.
    But God did not leave us stinking in our grave but he sent to us a preacher to proclaim the gospel that gives us new life in Christ.

    Justification is an awareness of a promise. And since it is a promise from God to me, my faith is of no consequence. Of course there is great benefit to me if I come to trust and rely God’s promise. I have gained God’s favor through my baptism by my name being united with his. I have direct access to God if I choose to use it, that is up to me.

    Objective Justification is a crutch used by inept preachers that are incapable of proclaiming the Gospel.

    “The Gospel, you already know all about it. Now let’s get back to what you are really interested in, the Law.”

  20. OK…one more. I remembered this from a while ago. Dr. Kurt Marquart had this to say before his death: “A contemporary clarification of justification would have to begin with what the Formula of Concord calls ‘the only essential and necessary elements of justification,’ that is, (1) the grace of God, (2) the merit of Christ, (3) the Gospel which alone offers and distributes these treasures, and (4) faith which alone receives or appropriates them (SDIII.25). The first three items define the universal/general dimension of justification (forgiveness as obtained for all mankind on the cross, proclaimed in the resurrection [see Rom 4:25 and 1 Tim 3:16] and offered to all in the means of grace), and the fourth, the individual/personal dimension. No one actually has forgiveness unless and until he receives it by faith.”

    “Objective justification” is most properly seen, then, as a “vicarious justification.” It is to and for all men, because the sins of all men were carried to the cross. In his suffering and death, Jesus stood in the place of all men. In his resurrection, and in the justification that was declared to him in and through his resurrection, he likewise stood in the place of all men.

    This is an important part of what defines the content of the objectively true Gospel that is now to be preached to all men so that they can believe it for their salvation. This is not in any way a substitute for that preaching, or for that faith, but is a prerequisite for it.”

    I don’t have a problem with this. But I seem to have read things previously here over the past week or so that do not necessarily jive. Does everyone agree with Marquart’s statement?

  21. @Joe Krohn #76

    I think Marquart is in line with what the CTCR stated in its 1983 report “Thesis on Justification”:

    II DEFINITION (p.4)
    4. In normal Biblical and ecclesiastical usage the terms “justify” and “justification” refer to the (“subjective”) justification of the individual sinner through faith (Rom. 4:5, 5:1, etc.; AC IV, 3; FC SD III, 25). But because theologically justification is the same thing as the forgiveness of sins (Rom. 4:1 -8; Ap IV, 76; FC Ep III, 7), it is Biblically and confessionally correct to refer to the great sin-cancelling, atoning work of the Redeemer as the “objective” or “universal” justification of the whole sinful human race. (John 1:29; Rom. 5:6-18; 2 Cor. 5:19; Col 2:14-15; 1 Tim. 3:16; Ap IV, 103-105; LC V, 31, 32, 36, 37; FC SD III, 57)

    5. Thus objective justification or reconciliation is the forgiveness of sins both as it has been acquired for the entire human race by Christ’s work of obedience in its stead and declared by His resurrection, and as it is seriously and efficaciously offered to all in the means of grace.

    6. Subjective justification or reconciliation is this same forgiveness as it is received, appropriated by, and applied to the individual sinner through God-given faith alone (sole fide).

  22. @Joe Krohn #79

    It’s proper for him to say that “God has forgiven you” rather than “if you believe, then God will forgive you.” In other words, God’s has pronounced his word of justification prior to my faith which merely receives it. The language you’re using, though correct in the sense that God has eternally spoken forth the word of the gospel apart from anything I do in time, might be stated better. The particular formulation might confuse people into believing that faith is unnecessary or that we are teaching universalism. Neither is the case.

  23. Andrew,

    thank you for the hearty explanation. I will definitely look more into Adolf Koeberle, although I’ve had the good fortune of reading it in the past. I would only add to all these comments that the idea of denying “objective justification” seems very nonsensical to me, since I can’t conceive of a way for God to justify me, or anyone else, without first determining to be merciful toward that person on account of Christ. And if the Gospel is always free, on account of Christ, then it must be for the same act that all people are justified ie. Christ is not slain again and again for every act of subjective justification. That would be a waste of time, to say the least, on the part of God. Not to mention, I think the Bible says somewhere that Christ, having once died, shall never die again.

    Maybe that last point doesn’t totally relate. But it just seem to me absurd, to try and be a Christian and at the same time, suggest that somehow Christ’s death and resurrection do not apply once for all. The end. It just doesn’t mean anything.

  24. #72: “If our confidence that we are saved is based on our feeling that we have faith, we will flounder. The answer we must always give to the question of “Do you know you are saved?” is not, “Yes, because I have faith” but rather, “Yes, because Christ Jesus died for me”

    (Worth repeating)

  25. @Joe Krohn #83

    Joe- No one except for you, LPC, Brett, and Jackson confuse the position with universalism. Even when WAM registered problems with it, it was merely a matter of proof texts. No one who teaches OJ believes in universalism.

    Look any number of Christian doctrines could confuse people. No one stops teaching the Trinity because they could become confused by the three persons and think that the doctrine means Tri-theism. I guess after having explained the doctrine again and again to you all, I’m still having a hard time figuring out why this is such a big problem. It’s not as if there is somehow a widespread belief in universalism in the WELS, ELS, or LCMS. In fact, most pastors in these synods rail against such tendencies in the ELCA (which btw, rarely uses the terminology of OJ/SJ).

  26. Correction…the Marquart quote was only the following. The rest that I mistakenly attributed was made by Pr. David Jay Webber. It was editorial that I had assumed (my bad) was Marquart’s since I had lifted it from another blog.

    “A contemporary clarification of justification would have to begin with what the Formula of Concord calls ‘the only essential and necessary elements of justification,’ that is, (1) the grace of God, (2) the merit of Christ, (3) the Gospel which alone offers and distributes these treasures, and (4) faith which alone receives or appropriates them (SDIII.25). The first three items define the universal/general dimension of justification (forgiveness as obtained for all mankind on the cross, proclaimed in the resurrection [see Rom 4:25 and 1 Tim 3:16] and offered to all in the means of grace), and the fourth, the individual/personal dimension. No one actually has forgiveness unless and until he receives it by faith.”

    Sorry for the confusion.

  27. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #84
    I am not confusing, Jack. Only warning. Your comparison to the Trinity is an old argument, a red herring and irrelevant. No, there is not a widespread belief of universalism in the synods you name. And yes, at present , many rail against ELCA in this regard. But there was a time when the denominations that now make up ELCA did not buy into this universalism either. Of course ELCA no longer speaks in terms of OJ/SJ…duh…they are universalists. If you think that the synods who do not have a widespread belief in universalism right now are not susceptible to it, you are kidding yourself. Pride goeth before the fall. It was foretold in Revelation long ago. Full blown universalism is coming to WELS, LCMS and the ELS whether you like it or not. And it will come through this doctrine of OJ. It is already happening in WELS by what my former WELS pastor preaches…that I was forgiven subjectively before being offered the Means of Grace. And there are those in LCMS that say that there is no difference between WELS and LCMS regarding justification. So you tell me…I will go with Isaiah 21:6.

  28. @Joe Krohn #86

    Joe,

    You state, “Full blown universalism is coming to WELS, LCMS and the ELS whether you like it or not. And it will come through this doctrine of OJ.” You claim that the false teaching of universalism will be the result of teaching objective justification. This is false presupposition that you are imposing upon the Scriptures.

    The gospel is the good news that God, because of Christ’s atoning work, has declared the world righteous (Romans 3:23-24, Romans 5:18-19, 2 Corinthians 5:19). The gospel is the announcement of an accomplished fact without any conditions. Christ not only atoned for our sins, but God has declared the world righteous for Jesus’ sake. Everything necessary to make us righteous in the sight of God has been accomplished by Christ for all people (universal objective justification). Those who believe this have forgiveness and eternal life as a personal possession (subjective justifcation). The faith they have is a gift of the Holy Spirit worked through the same gospel. Faith is not an act of the will and it does nothing to produce the forgiveness Christ has earned. Faith is simply the receiving instrument that the Spirit has worked in them through the gospel. Those without faith do not possess forgiveness or eternal life and will be condemend to hell if they do not come to faith during their time of grace.

    The false teaching of universalism does not stem from the teaching of objective justication. This may sound appealing to human reason, but to make such a claim is to let reason stand in judgment over the Scriptures. The false teaching of universalism comes from a denial of other teachings of Scripture such as God’s holiness, hell, Christ as the only Savior.

  29. @Joe Krohn #87

    “But there was a time when the denominations that now make up ELCA did not buy into this universalism either. Of course ELCA no longer speaks in terms of OJ/SJ…duh…they are universalists.”

    Joe- First, not everyone in the ELCA is a universalist. For example, none, and I mean none, of my professors at Luther Seminary were or are universalists. I believe that there were a couple of NT profs. who I never took who could qualify as such, but most were followers of Forde and tended towards a hard line on the traditional Lutheran doctrine of election. In fact I would credit them with driving me towards the LCMS.

    In any case, your second statement assumes that the language of OJ/SJ leads to universalism. I don’t think you’ve shown that at all, since when properly understood the doctrine teaches the very opposite of universalism. My point about the ELCA not using the language of SJ/OJ is that it was never really part of their theological tradition or the tradition of the synods that proceeded them. Even the profs. I was mentioning to you who hold to an orthodox Lutheran understanding of salvation and election don’t use the language. It’s not because they don’t believe in the content, it’s because the language of SJ/OJ is peculiar to the theological culture of old synodical conference (which comes primarily out of 19th century continental Lutheranism). Therefore, the idea that the people in the ELCA used to believe in OJ/SJ, but then drifted into universalism as a result is absurd. They never used the language in the first place, not all of them are universalists, and the universalists have other sources of their theology (Barth, other 20th century German Protestant theologians, etc.).

    Lastly, your claim that universalism is coming soon to the old synodical conference bodies is not very credible to me. There are people in the LCMS like Dr. Becker and other people in the salt water districts who would want to go in this direction, but again, their theological sources are primarily modern theology and their desire make good with other mainline Protestants. This has very little to do with the SJ/OJ distinction, or the theological culture of the old synodical conference. Your example from your own congregation in Texas (which is what I assume that your talking about) is a matter I think of you misunderstanding your pastor. Having read the e-mail exchange between the two of you on your blog, I think that it might have been nice if you had given the opportunity to explain his rhetoric to you. I feel (after reading your responses to him) you didn’t really give him a fair chance.

  30. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #90
    You make my point about OJ/SJ. It is peculiar. Statements like the one provided from Marquart and books like “Justification and Rome” are the proper teaching of the doctrine of Justification. That’s all I’ve been trying to say. We should not veer to the right or the left. My ex-congregation is veering. You are in error to assume I didn’t give them a fair chance. It was quite the opposite.

  31. @Joe Krohn #91

    Joe- I think that theological language is “proper” to the particular errors that we are facing in our historic ecclesial environment. The language of SJ/OJ guards against Reformed limited atonement and therefore is completely “necessary” in our context. Though I do not want to debate you about your former church, having read the content of your pastor’s teachings which you objected to, and having read the e-mail exchanges, I see no veering at all. What I see is your pastor’s desire to explain the synod’s position to you (which you clearly misunderstood), and you not giving him the opportunity to do. That’s all.

  32. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #90

    Actually, ELCA people like Gerhard Forde and James Nestingen – who taught and teach an orthodox view of election and conversion, and who did and do not teach universalism – represent a strain of the ELC/ALC/ELCA heritage that did in fact teach objective justification, namely the old Norwegian Synod. That was and is Forde’s and Nestingen’s family and theological background. Herman A. Preus was a formative influence on each of them. So, a significant “hold-out” tradition within ELCA that resisted the spread of universalism was precisely that tradition that did include the teaching of objective justification, as a part of its legacy as filtered into the ELCA by way of mergers in 1917, 1960, AND 1987.

  33. @David Jay Webber #93

    Pastor Webber, that’s a good point. Their emphasis on election definitely does come out of the Old Norwegian synod. My point was that they typically don’t use the language of OJ/SJ, though I think they would buy into the concept. Also, the liberals who do buy into universalism do so not on the basis of the OJ/SJ distinction, but due to other factor, i.e. the influence of American mainline Protestantism, which definitely doesn’t use the OJ/SJ distinction.

  34. @Jim Pierce #74
    “No, God unconditionally promises to all, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8). I am not denying that individuals who were healed had faith.”

    Jim,
    Would you say that the “act of faith” in this case would have been for a person who is bitten to actually “look upon the serpent”. Nothing more, and nothing less?
    Thanks

  35. @Joe Krohn #87

    I tend to agree that if it’s not cleared up that may happen. As I expressed on the other thread, I’ve had discussions with simple laymen who understand UOJ to mean that the Means of Grace are basically kaput…simply a remembrance. These are the reports from the field (Isaiah 21:6). Whether UOJ teaches this or not is irrevalent. This is how it’s being taught/understood (saints in hell, etc.) So there needs to be a massive overhaul somewhere because, frankly, this is how it is being taught (in the WELS at least). I think WELS veers on their teaching of UOJ, as some other pastors and representatives of UOJ have agreed on the other thread. If I recall correctly they said that Becker’s paper was a misrepresentation of UOJ as the LCMS understands it.

  36. @John Standley #96
    There is not much charity shown either if you want a discussion; if you’re lucky to get any semblance of one. Even then, there is condescension…at least in my case.

  37. David Jay Webber :@Dr. Jack Kilcrease #90
    Actually, ELCA people like Gerhard Forde and James Nestingen – who taught and teach an orthodox view of election and conversion, and who did and do not teach universalism – represent a strain of the ELC/ALC/ELCA heritage that did in fact teach objective justification, namely the old Norwegian Synod. That was and is Forde’s and Nestingen’s family and theological background. Herman A. Preus was a formative influence on each of them. So, a significant “hold-out” tradition within ELCA that resisted the spread of universalism was precisely that tradition that did include the teaching of objective justification, as a part of its legacy as filtered into the ELCA by way of mergers in 1917, 1960, AND 1987.

    Forde and Nestingen reffered to themselves as “Theologians of the Cross”. Faith in Jesus crucified and risen was and is the center of their theology.
    Pax, John

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