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.


Objective Justification and Rome — 154 Comments

  1. @T. R. Halvorson #99
    T. R.
    I am using the phrase “act of faith” to describe an action resulting from faith which God gave. Seems to me that those who were snake-bit, but provided with Gods promise, could either act on the promise and faith given to them by God by looking at the serpent, or they could reject them and seek to find their own remedy to the situation. Do you think this understanding is correct? The use of the term “event” is a bit abstract to me in this context.

  2. @DA #101

    I see what you are asking now, DA. Sorry I misunderstood. I think the answer is that faith in the OT is no different than faith after the cross. Faith is passive. It is created in the heart by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God and that faith takes hold of (receives much like a cup receiving wine poured into it) the promise given. So the “action” is the work of the Holy Spirit through His Word creating faith. We are the receptacle passively receiving.

    On the other hand, unbelief is active. It is active rejection of the promise of God given through His Word. We hear this in Scriptures such as those speaking about “always resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).

    I hope that helps.

  3. @Jim Pierce #102

    Thanks Jim,

    Your explanation helps, and it also causes confusion. To look upon the serpent involves human muscle and bone doing something, right? Are you saying the Holy Spirit takes direct control of the central nervous system? Please explain further.

    Applying this to OJ and SJ, are you saying that SJ is simply a person not rejecting OJ?

    Thanks again

  4. @DA #103

    I will join in with you in being confused, DA, since I am not understanding your questions. Are you asking me if our actions create faith? Are you asking if we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in coming to faith? I honestly am missing what you are asking.

    Perhaps the following will help. When we take the Lord’s Supper we are handling the physical elements through which God has instituted to bring us the forgiveness of sins. But that handling doesn’t create faith. Indeed, the efficacy of the Sacrament is not because of the physical action of taking bread and wine. What makes the Sacrament efficacious is the promise of God’s Word. Likewise, the promise of God’s Word attached to the bronze serpent is what made it efficacious. It isn’t the action of the person “looking” which made it the promise of God effective.

    If I completely missed what you are asking, just let me know. 🙂

  5. @Robert #105

    Forde taught that God’s election of the ungodly occurred through preaching, Rev. Baker. Since God is present in his Word, in the act of preaching and the administration of the sacraments there is no distance between his abstract will to save the elect and his concrete redeeming work through the means of grace, as in Calvinism. I don’t think that you can fault his view of election, even if we find him wanting in his understanding of other articles of the faith.

  6. @Jim Pierce #104

    Dear Jim,

    1. No, I don’t believe and am not asking if our actions are needed for justification.
    2. I was surprised when you mentioned in #97 above that God’s means of grace in the example was the bronze serpent. I would have expected it to be God’s word and promise.
    3. Are you of the opinion that SJ is simply the case of OJ not being rejected?

    As always, thanks.

  7. @DA #107

    DA, with regard to question three, the terms “subjective justification” and “objective justification” refer to different aspects of justification. In my opinion, rejection of this terminology does not necessarily entail a rejection of the scriptural view of justification. Although I think it evident from the other thread dealing with this topic that some of those who do reject the use of these terms have also rejected the scriptural view of the atonement. So, I am inclined to think that this terminology is quite useful and is necessary in combating false teaching on justification.

  8. @DA #107

    @Jim Pierce #108

    I want to add to my comment above that God is working through the things He selects to use in the means of Grace. So we don’t separate the Holy Spirit from the Word being preached. God is working in the bread and wine, indeed He is truly present. God is working in the water of baptism. If we separate the Word from the water then we just have ordinary water. And the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” without water is no baptism.

    I hope that helps.

  9. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #106
    I think you state Forde’s position pretty well.
    Forde and Nestingen, often spoke of the declaration that Christ died and rose for you pros se as key to preaching and the sacraments. God’s will for you, that’s what we declare when we preach. It’s the very opposite of universal; it’s personal.
    Pax, John

  10. @DA #101

    I am using the phrase “act of faith” to describe an action resulting from faith which God gave.

    Great. With that meaning, I understand now what you meant.

    The point in the order of salvation that I was thinking about was converstion. Before a person is converted, he or she has no faith, and therefore cannot act from faith, or do what you called an act of faith. For the unregenerate or unconverted person, faith is not their act, or something from which they act, but is an event that happens to them when God converts and regenerates them. That’s the use I was making of the word “event,” and how I was distinguishing the words “act” and “event.”

    In the case of the rod in the wilderness, some were converted to God already before the calmity and its cure, so there would be some in the multitude that, as you say, did an act of faith to look at the serpent on the rod. But for many, until they heard that word of God to turn, look, and be healed, they were not converted, lacked faith, and could not do any act of faith whether it be turn, look, or any other act. But the Word so preached was effective in precipitating onto many an event of faith, in which they were converted, and then looked at the serpent.

  11. @Robert #112

    Rev. Baker, Gerhard seems to have some very confused rhetoric on election. I think that I would like to believe Robert Preus’ interpretation of him, and hold that he was orthodox in this regard- but it is difficult at times. The rest of them taught that God elects through his Word. People become assured and receive God’s electing activity in the Word. I think what you’re trying to suggest by the use of the word “during” is that for Forde, God somehow lacks an antecedent will to elect in the form of an eternal decree and that somehow it just “happens” when preaching happens. There is nothing really in his corpus of writing which suggests that he holds his position, not least because he held to the doctrine of divine immutability. When he discusses God’s electing activity in the Word, his point is mainly to draw out the implications of the sacramentality of the Word as it pertains to preaching. People should be draw away from abstract speculations about the hidden God, and directed to God’s concrete saving and electing will present in Word and sacrament.

    BTW, this will be a my final response to you on this point. I see very little reason to debate you on this point, insofar as I think you lack evidence for this assertion.

  12. @Dr. Jack Kilcrease #113

    Thank you, Dr. Kilcrease. I would have to agree with you that, at least as far as I have been able to tell, Forde did not address God’s election from eternity of all those who will be saved through faith in Christ.

    In a classic Forde passage, found in The Preached God, pp. 48-49, Forde locates God’s election in preaching. “God sends someone… to go and do it [election].” This seems also to be your interpretation when you write on your blog Theologia Crucis, “For Luther, the preached Word is where it happens and therefore you can be certain of election because being in contact with the Word you are present precisely where God elects. For Calvin, it happens off in eternity and so the preached Word is unreliable.” (Paulson’s Talk…, April 27, 2011).

    Now, I don’t dispute that we should draw the certainty of our salvation solely from God’s grace in Christ, which He freely offers in Word and Sacrament. However, I believe that it is important to note that, contrary to the view appearing earlier on this thread, namely, that “Forde… taught an orthodox view of election,” is difficult to maintain.

    In his Thirteen Theses on election, C.F.W. Walther taught that God loved the whole world from eternity, created all men for salvation, and that Christ died to atone for the sins of the world, that the object of election are believers who persevere to the end, that election is unchangeable, and that a cause of election is God’s grace and Christ’s merit. In short, election is both a cause of salvation and everything that belongs to it. Although abbreviated, these theses are consistent with Pieper’s treatment of election in Christian Dogmatics III:473ff.

    Perhaps in not addressing the doctrine contained in these theses, particularly God’s eternal decree, we see some of Forde’s Norwegian spiritual heritage as well as an avoidance of appearing Calvinistic. However, Forde’s treatment of election is nevertheless deficient. Better to stick with the Formula, which says, “The eternal election of God… is… a cause which procures, works, helps, and promotes our salvation and what pertains thereto…” Trigl. 1065 SD XI:8.

  13. Rev. Paul T. McCain :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.

    Why not? Laymen are shouldering this burden all the time. Does becoming a seminarian suddenly weaken their faith and render them mute?

  14. Tim Schenks :

    Rev. Paul T. McCain :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.

    Why not? Laymen are shouldering this burden all the time. Does becoming a seminarian suddenly weaken their faith and render them mute?

    Tim, I provided a very specific case of a specific field worker who got caught up in Greg’s crypto-Calvinist teachings. It actually happened, and while God’s purposes are not going to be thwarted, it caused a lot of harm, and likely shipwreck of faith for some.

    Many seminarians are a lot younger and actually less experienced than some of us uneducated lay people. They are definitely much more sheltered than those of us who suffered in heterodox teachings from birth.

  15. I decided to blog about some searches I did on Preus’s Justification and Rome.Here is the blog url http://stevengoodrich.blogspot.com/

    I found this footnote especially interesting.

    It’s endnote 75.

    Luther and the earlier post-Reformation theologians do not present quite such a neat and tidy paradigm, but would probably agree with Quenstedt that Christ procured righteousness on the cross and that the same righteousness is apprehended through faith. All the Lutherans were in agreement that through faith the sinner acquires a righteousness which already exists objectively.

    Robert D. Preus (1997-06-01). Justification and Rome (Kindle Locations 2008-2011). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

  16. It is brilliant. In fact the whole book is brilliant. If you don’t have a copy, you should get one. They are priced well on Amazon. When you read it you will get what Rev. Walter A. Maier Jr. was saying and that the WELS’s Becker was skewed.

  17. 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.

  18. @Joe Krohn #119

    Mr. Krohn,

    I have a copy of the book and if one pays close attention to chapter four, especially page 32, then one will read in that chapter where Robert Preus gives us the doctrine of Objective Justification.

    It is a myth that “Justification and Rome” repudiates Objective Justification.

  19. Martin Chemnitz on the Doctrine of Justification
    [Presented at the Reformation Lectures, Bethany Lutheran College and
    Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, October 30, 1985, Lecture II]
    By Dr. Jacob A. 0. Preus

    26. In the case of each locus Chemnitz always begins by stating the point at issue, the status
    controversiae. The Scripture verse which sets forth the entire subject is Rom. 3:21-28, “The righteousness of
    God, without the law, has been revealed” in the Gospel, namely, that we “are justified freely by His grace,
    through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation through faith, in His
    blood …without the works of the law.” In a very real sense this entire locus is nothing but an exegetical study of
    this passage in Romans.

    31. Note that Chemnitz equates justification with reconciliation between man and God. Justification is
    the legal concept describing man’s relationship to the law, and reconciliation refers to his relationship with God.
    In describing reconciliation he points out the benefits: 1) Christ has taken away our sins and made satisfaction
    for them; 2) Christ is the fulfillment of the law, thus stressing both His active and passive obedience; 3) The
    Gospel teaches that these benefits are received through faith; 4) It also teaches that these benefits are offered in
    the Word and the Sacraments, through which the Holy Spirit works; 5) After giving the benefit of justification
    the Holy Spirit then works renewal; and 6) The promise of the Gospel is universal, applying to all, gentiles as
    well as Jews, as long as they repent and receive the promise in faith.”

    39. All this brings him back to the true and correct definition of justification. He begins this subject with
    a long and very interesting historical review of how the rise of the Pelagain controversy caused men such as
    Augustine and even Jerome to revise some of their earlier unfortunate statements which had attributed too much
    to man’s natural powers and free choice, for a false teaching on these subjects will of itself produce a false
    doctrine of justification. He also points out that the insistence of the papists in clinging to their synergistic errors
    on justification arose out of their desire to preserve their spiritual and financial hold over the people who
    through their purchase of indulgences (which they understood to be the forgiveness of all their sins) were
    actually financing the entire structure of the papacy. The sophistry of Rome at the time of Trent was not quite so
    crass as it had been at the time of Tetzel, but the result was the same. Trent urged that “justification does not
    consist only in the remission of sins and free reconciliation, but it also includes the renewal of the mind and the
    will through the Holy Spirit.” This, of course, is a perversion of the distinction between law and Gospel and
    makes our justification before God contingent in part on our obedience to the law.

    It was this very error,
    creeping back into Lutheranism, which caused Walther, Pieper, H. A. Preus, and others to stress the

    objective aspect of reconciliation and justification.

    Man is forever work righteous.

    42. He summarizes by saying, “In the entire Scripture it is impossible to prove by a single example that
    the word ‘to justify,’ when it speaks of God’s justifying, is ever to be understood as referring to renewal by the
    infusion of new qualities.” This in opposition both to the papists and to Osiander. He continues, “We do not
    deny the renewal which takes place through the Spirit, but now the question is what the word ‘justification’
    means in the Scripture.”

    “Before God’s judgment man can put up nothing in his
    own defense in order that he might be justified, since God does not justify out of frivolousness or unconcern,
    error or venality, and since He finds nothing in man whereby he might be justified before God (yet justification
    demands that the law be fulfilled, Rom. 8:4), therefore a foreign righteousness must intervene, the kind of
    righteousness which along with the remission of punishments must include also a total obedience to the divine
    law by way of satisfaction, so that there can be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

    47. Chemnitz throughout this entire locus is really giving us a word study of the Scriptural terms used in
    the article of justification.

    “The word
    ‘faith’ is better understood by an explanation of the word ‘to justify,’

    “As Augustine says the Christian faith differs from the faith of the devils
    in the last articles of the Creed: ‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life

    And in the 19th century revival of Lutheran orthodoxy among both
    Europeans and Americans the theology of Chemnitz shines through.


  20. @Jim Pierce #122
    Mr. Pierce…I gave my copy away to a WELS pastor for his edification and have not yet bought another for myself. So I am unable to review the chapter at the moment. What I recall from the book, however is that no where does it teach that I was forgiven before I was born; which is my problem with some forms of OJ.

  21. @Joe Krohn #124

    I will quote the relevant citation and you can look it up when your book is returned.

    “What does all this have to say to the fact—and to the doctrine—of the sinner’s justification before God? According to God’s revelation in Scripture, the context of the sinner’s justification before God is the following. God, out of His infinite power and benevolence, created all things. Man was the crown of His creation, made in His own image, fearing, loving, and trusting in God above all things, and knowing Him as his loving Father and Creator. But man (Adam and the whole human race) rebelled against God, fell into sin, and lost the divine image. Man, therefore, became God’s enemy, the object of God’s wrath and subject to God’s judgement, and in utter need of salvation and forgiveness.

    Then God, in His infinite grace, took action. He sent His Son, who was the radiance of His glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3), to become man (John 1:14) and to redeem the world (Galatians 4:4) and restore it to glory and communion with Him (John 3:17). For Christ’s sake God, who was angry with the sinful world, was reconciled, propitiated, and at peace with the world (1 John 2:2; Luke 2:14).

    These are the facts, the realities, which serve indispensably as the context for the justification of a sinner before God” (“Justification and Rome” pp. 31-32 emphasis mine).

  22. @Jim Pierce #125

    Here is another citation (I apologize for the lack of page numbers, but I only have the Kindle version. This is in Chapter 9

    This righteousness of Christ, this vicarious obedience under the Law and vicarious obedience unto death, results in the redemption of the world and the reconciliation of the world to God.

    Robert D. Preus (1997-06-01). Justification and Rome (Kindle Locations 798-799). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

  23. @Jim Pierce #125
    Jim – What you quoted does not say the whole world was declared righteous. From what you are inferring is that God was angry at the world, but changed His attitude when Christ died and was raised. I offer this: God at the time of the flood was so angry at the world that He was going to totally destroy it. But then He remembered Noah and His promise. Had He destroyed the world, God would have been a liar. And besides that, all those who were already righteous and justified in His sight through faith in the coming Christ and believed the resurrection, well their faith would have been in vain and they would have been condemned to Hell. So you see, the reconciliation took place in the garden of Eden when He promised the Savior. Those with faith He looks on with favor; those without faith, even though He sent His Son for them too, He still is angry at them as He was at the time of Noah. We know that if we do not believe in Jesus Christ, we are still in our sins.

    What you provided in the excerpt is describing God’s amazing objective grace for the world; His cheerful willingness to forgive all those who turn to Him in faith with repentant hearts(worked by the Holy Ghost), knowing they will receive the objective forgiveness of sins that Christ won for the world. Are we saying the same things only differently?

  24. @Joe Krohn #127

    Mr. Krohn,

    What do you mean with, ” knowing they will receive the objective forgiveness of sins that Christ won for the world”? What is “objective” about the forgiveness of sins, here? I will ask you the same question I asked Mr. Meyer. Do you believe the world is reconciled to God in Christ?

    The answer to my last question will answer your question as to whether or not we are saying the same things.

  25. @Jim Pierce #128
    Mr. Pierce – God, by Christ’s righteousness and perfect obedience, atoned for the sins of the world. In this sense, the world has an objective reconciliation since the problem with sin through expiation has been dealt with.

  26. @Joe Krohn #130

    Mr. Krohn,

    Thank you for your response. But, I am a bit confused with what you are disagreeing with over Objective Justification. It appears, and I could be mistaken, you agree that the sins of the world have been forgiven in Christ; hence your “objective forgiveness,” but how can the sins of the world be “objectively forgiven” and the world not “objectively justified?” You see, to say that the sins of the world have been forgiven in Christ is Objective Justification. So, I don’t understand what it is you are disagreeing with here.

  27. @Jim Pierce #131
    Mr. Pierce, Let me backtrack to your question…”Do you believe the world is reconciled to God in Christ?” You are asking a yes or no question and it can not be answered in such fashion. If I answer yes, then I am opening the door to the world being declared righteous. If this were so, all men in the world become righteous and we know this is not the case. Unrighteous men have been condemned to hell since the beginning of time. Since the fall we are depraved and are only capable of evil all the time. Left to ourselves, we are nothing but unrighteous men in God’s sight without Christ’s righteousness. And we know all men do not have Christ’s righteousness. It’s called lack of faith; without the Holy Ghost.

    If I answer no, then I deny the work of Christ entirely, because I know there are many people in the world (all through time) who have Christ’s righteousness and have been justified/forgiven by their faith freely given by the Holy Ghost. This is ‘God reconciling the world to himself’. It is ongoing from the Garden to the second coming of Christ. Jesus saves, not Jesus saved.

    God, for the sake of Christ, let’s the world go on until evil has run its course; so that His elect…as many as possible are saved.

  28. @Joe Krohn #132

    Mr. Krohn,

    Actually, we know that IN CHRIST the whole world is declared righteous. THAT is what it means for the world to be reconciled to God because of the merit of Jesus. That is what it means that Christ has conquered sin and death in the world. Ours is not an anemic savior who hasn’t won the victory until you believe such is actually the case. Indeed, what faith latches onto is something real, Mr. Krohn. Your “objective forgiveness” is not at all “objective” and it looks like we are not really saying the same things after all.

  29. Luther says that the unbelievers in the world are not declared righteous:

    “…the sins of those are retained who do not go to the Word…” (W 52, 273)

    “…faith in the forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ must be added. But where there is such a faith, God no longer sees any sins; for then you stand before God, not in your name but in Christ’s name.” (W 52, 264)

  30. @Jim Pierce #135

    Jim Pierce :
    @Joe Krohn #134
    A reality which happens within the Holy Trinity because of Christ. The Father receives Christ’s sacrifice and declares the world absolved of sin because of Christ’s merit alone… sola gratia.

    Preus never came close to making such a statement in the book. If this teaching is so important to the doctrine of justification, why does he not address it? In fact he seems to go out of his way to avoid it. Rather, he keeps all terminology in their rightful Biblical context and perspective. These types of statements put one in a dangerous place; to claim to know the reality of the Holy Trinity when even the Son does not know the day and the hour of His second coming.

    Job 38:4 (KJV)
    “4Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.”

  31. If the the world has been declared righteous and the anger of God appeased, why does He vow to destroy it in Revelation?

    If the world has been absolved of sin, why does Christ say in Luke 24 that the message of REPENTANCE and forgiveness will be preached?

  32. @Joe Krohn #139

    Mr. Krohn,

    Respectfully, I think we may have read two different books, since Preus does come close to stating what I wrote above. Indeed, see page 59 of “Justification and Rome” where Preus is dealing with the topic of “Justification, Propter Christum, Christ’s Righteousness,” he states:

    “In Lutheran theology justification is seen as having two parts: 1) forgiveness, or the non-imputation of sin, and 2) the imputation of a righteousness outside of us, a foreign or alien righteousness (justitia aliena), namely, the righteousness of Christ.

    What is this foreign righteousness? It is a righteousness which comes from God (Romans 1:17), but it is not His essential righteousness, not the righteousness by which He judges sinners, nor the righteousness by which He redeems them from their sins. Rather this divine righteousness revealed in the Gospel is the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ. But again, it is not Christ’s essential righteousness, the righteousness of His divine nature. It is rather the righteousness of Christ, the God Man, which He fulfilled and accomplished and acquired for us. It is the saving righteousness (dikaiosume) of His obedience (dikaioma, hupokoe) to the Father (Romans 5:18-19; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8), His obedience under the Law (Galatians 4:4), by which He obeyed the Law as our Substitute (huper hemon), and obeyed the will of the Father to die innocently as our Substitute, and thus to redeem us (Galatians 3:13).

    This righteousness of Christ, this vicarious obedience under the Law and vicarious obedience unto death, results in the redemption of the world and the reconciliation of the world to God. This righteousness which constitutes the vicarious atonement is the basis of the sinner’s justification before God. But this righteousness also constitutes the sinner’s justification before God. It is precisely this righteousness which is imputed to the sinner who believes, and thereby becomes his righteousness (Philippians 3:9). It is the purpose of the Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration III, 15-16) to affirm just this fact” (bold text is mine).

    If one misunderstands the atonement, and misunderstands sola gratia, they will likely not understand the objective aspect of Justification. This is why I have tirelessly pointed out that somewhere you fellows who reject OJ must reject some aspect of the teaching that Christ makes full satisfaction of our sins before God the Father. At any rate, I think the above text directly answers your assertion “Preus never came close to making such as statement in the book.” Indeed, Preus does come close.

  33. @Joe Krohn #142

    I don’t mean to disappoint you, but I am really not interested in continuing the discussion. Rather, I point out above that Preus does state pretty much what I do in post #135. So feel free to write as much as you like, but I am not interested in once again going over the same old talking points coming out of the Jackson sect against OJ.

    P.S.—I just read Andrew Preus’ latest article here on BJS


    It is excellent and certainly germane to what I am pointing at here.

  34. Mr. Pierce, With all due respect ‘comes close’ and ‘pretty much’ does not mean what you are saying is what he said. He is staying within the parameters of how the scriptures speak. Redemption and reconciliation do not automatically mean forgiveness if you are staying in the objective form. The former terms can be spoken as Preus does in the context of Atonement; Christ’s satisfaction for the debt of sin. This is an objective fact. And we must stay in the objective realm. When we start speaking of ‘sin’ or ‘sins’ subjectively, we get into trouble. Atonement is not a synonym for justification, and this is where the rub is.

    Justification/imputation of Christ’s righteousness is always used in conjunction with forgiveness, which is preceded by repentance; which is preceded by conviction of the Law; which is preceded by a hearing of the Word. To say that every sin was forgiven (subjectively) discounts Christ when he said to the Pharisees, ‘If you do not believe who I say that I am, you will die in your sins.’ That statement discounts any declared righteousness on the world; any justification of the world because if ALL sins (subjectively speaking) are forgiven (since this is what you are saying by calling it a justification) then it would be impossible to commit the sin of unbelief. Forgiveness demands contrition. If the world has been absolved of sin, there is no point to me confessing my sins in church this week before taking Holy Communion.

  35. BTW…the pixilated picture of the venerable Rev. Robert Preus at the beginning of the blog post does not do him justice. I would either find a better resolution, or not display a picture at all…it is after all about respect.

  36. I will change the picture to a clearer picture, since I now have one provided. And I suppose this thread is long gone. But please don’t insinuate a disrespectful nature. It is a lot more disrespectful to Robert Preus to argue that he denied OJ than to not present a good quality picture of him.

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