I am putting his comments in view so that others may see the discussion more prominently, and not miss the thrill of the discussion and excitement. Here is what Dan said...You can find what I and A.S. thus far have said here. Dan begins...
You said that the unregerate man cannot, on his own, trust in Christ. Rightly so.
However, that trust, or faith, is worked in us through the Holy Spirit. "I believe that I cannot by my own reason and strength believe in Jesus Christ..." Faith is something that can only come through the inworking of the Holy Spirit. That is the flaw in the whole impartation vs. imputation thing. Because of faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us (extra nos). But that faith itself is something that the Holy Spirit imparts to us (in nobis).
Let me point out the logical inconsistancy another way. For Lutherans:
Faith (Trust in Christ) comes before Justification (because we are "justified by faith alone")
Justification comes before renewal. (FCSD III: 19ff.)
Yet, renewal must preceed faith, since the unrenewed man cannot trust in Christ.
Your comment about "it is finished", reminds me of the day this was discussed in seminary. The prof explained that on the cross, our justification was complete. One student raised his hand and asked "So why did Jesus rise from the dead." The prof answered "what else could He do?" I had that some prof for my theological interview, and he asked me to what event does St. Paul connect our justification. I answered "The cross." He pointed out that in fact it was the resurrection (Rom. 4). I replied, tongue in cheek, that I thought my answer was "more Lutheran."
Man's sin, his unrighteousness, consists in two things. Guilt, which is largely extra nos (the guilt of Adam) but also guilt for our own transgression. But sin is also corruption, which is entirely in us, in nobis. If our unrighteousness is twofold, so also must be our righteousness. It is a non-imputation of guilt and imputation of an alien righteousness (extra nos), but also the injury, the corruption of sin, must be repaired in nobis. The former is by imputation, the latter by impartation. The former is gained on Calvary, the latter comes through the empty tomb. If you read Augustine's anti-pelagian writings, you will see how the grace of pardon (imputed righteousness) and the grace of renewal (imparted righteousness) both belong to justification. Interestingly enough, it was Pelagius who, like Lutherans, accepted the former while denying the latter. Further, the insistance that renewal follows justification, and cannot precede justification, inadvertantly implies a pelagianism because it requires an unrenewed man to exhibit faith.
As far as "Mother Church" goes, we hold that the subject who both imputes and imparts righteousness is God, though Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Neither righteousness has its origin in man or is achieved through human effort. Both are by grace alone. Your presupposition that imputation is grace and impartation is works (by human effort) is off the mark.
As I see it, the problem with Lutheranism is that it only has half of the Gospel, but at least it's the better half.
My additional reply:
I have said a few things already in the comments. Dan has an interesting take on what his professor in theology taught him. For him, as a now confessing Roman Catholic, at Jesus' death is when the imputation happened -- the legal one, and at Jesus' resurrection is when impartation happened, the renewal. This indeed is an interesting formulation.
Presumably, because Dan says that at Jesus' death on the cross, imputation of righteousness happened there for everyone, then this means that justification happened for everyone there too. He can correct my impression of what he said.
I for one, believe in justification through faith - JBFA. Meaning, without faith no one gets the benefit of Christ's work. I do not believe in justification without faith, without means of grace - i.e. without Word and Sacraments. This faith is created by God out of nothing in an unregenerate man through Word and Sacrament. Yes - even the thief on the Cross had one of them effected on him - the Word. When the person brought by God to faith in the finished work of Christ, God treats that faith as righteousness - declared not guilty. It is a declaration/reckoning/ an assessment.
IMHO, Dan is mixing categories. Reconciliation/Atonement is not the same thing as Justification and neither are the other concepts such as sanctification, glorification as the same thing etc. I am a logician/mathematician by training, I was trained not to mix my categories. Concepts may relate but may not be precisely synonyms of each other.
According to Luther, Faith is nothing, even the Formula of Concord editors say this too. The reason why faith justifies is not because it is a quality or virtue that is worthy of God's smile, but it holds on to the work of Christ. That faith has value because of what it is holding on too and not because of itself. Quenstedt has a quote on this which I will share when time permits.
The difference between a unregenerate man and the regenerate is that the latter is brought to spiritual life in that the latter has faith in the Gospel. The former has faith not in the Gospel (outside him) but faith in anything but Christ's saving work.