Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More on Imputation/Impartation.

Dan Woodring is taking me to task on the above issue. I am glad we are having this exchange.

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.

...more later.


acroamaticus said...

Mmm...I've read his comments quickly and I must say I'm not entirely clear exactly what he is arguing. Perhaps that is because I haven't followed the entire discussion. But there does seem to be some confusion in his mind over the difference between regeneration and renewal in Lutheran theology, which might be what we would expect if he is coming at it from a Roman Catholic perspective.

My understanding of Lutheran teaching on the order of salvation is that regeneration precedes justification and renewal (otherwise called renovation in classical Lutheran theology). Now, admittedly, we are dealing here with what may be entirely notional distinctions, but I think such clear distinctions are helpful and necessary to preserve divine monergism when in disucssion with RCs about the Gospel.
There is also the important distinction between transitive and intransitive acts in conversion; that is, briefly, man turns but it is God who does the turning.

My 2c worth! I hope it illuminates rather than darkens the conversation.


Dan Woodring said...

You replied to me in a couple of places, and there are many things to respond. I'm sure I won't get to them all with this post.

First, I need to point out that I never brought Objective Justification into this question, although you are correct that my professors taught this, most notibly Robert Preus and Kurt Marquart. Whether it was an "invention of the Synodical Conference" is, well, lets just say I don't have a dog in that fight anymore. I will say that Dr. Preus has many times convincingly made his case on the basis of the 17th century dogmaticians, of which he was the world's formost expert.

But the question of whether or not the entire world was justified on Good Friday is beyond the point I was making. I said that the righteousness that is imputed to us was (and the non-imputation of guilt) was "gained on calvary". I did not say that "at Jesus Death is when the imputation happened." Nor would I say that the impartation of righteousness "happened" on Easter, rather I said it comes through the Resurrection. So to clarify, the imputation of Christ's Righteousness,and the non-imputation of sin, is given on account of Calvary, and the righteousness that is imparted to us, by which we are renewed, comes through the resurrection. I certainly would not say that my renewal "happened" on the Day of resurrection, nor would I refer to my renewal in the past-perfect tense.

Also beside the point is the question of why faith justifies. I fully understand the Lutheran position that faith justifies because it apprehends Christ, not because of a quality of it's own. It doesn't matter to my argument.

Whether or not the BoC uses the term "order of salvation" is not the issue either, although is certainly was used in later dogmatics. The BoC clearly present the following 3 suppositions, which cannot reasonably stand together.

The unrenewed man cannot trust in Christ. (AC II et al).
We are declared righteous when we trust in Christ (AC IV et al)
Renewal always comes after this declaration of righteousness. (FCSd III et al)

Whether there is a formal order of salvation presented in the BoC or no, you can not get around the fact that faith precedes the imputation of righteousness, and this imputation precedes renewal.

You may good at mathmatics, but not even you can make this add up.

L P Cruz said...


I will by pass R Preus' because I have to say at least in his last book Justification and Rome, p.72 thatI do not think he believed what you said. People go through changes in their understanding of their faith.

I am wondering what your point is then.

Yes faith precedes in logical order the imputation. However, the temporal order is not something we can ascertain as both the justification and regeneration happen at the same instant. As I said which you are aware, regeneration and justification are the same in the Apology of Augsburg and dealt with in the FC/SD. So we are not using the word regeneration the same way.

So what is your point? If your point is that Lutherans are inconsistent, it is inconsistent with what? With Augustine? So what? Is it incosistent with Scripture - that is your task to show, at least , isn't it? And that is what matters, based on our own value system.

Preus already in his last book pointed that indeed Rome has imputation/impartation. Neither do Lutherans deny impartation, but in the article of Justification, only imputation is included in Lutheran understanding.

In the matter of Christian life, of course, impartation is included, but not in the article of justification.

But you I recall did not answer my question.

In your version of Roman Catholic theology, and I stress your version call it V.02 (perhaps), what is imputed, when does that thing imputed happen?

So perhaps you can review for us, the Roman Catholic Theology as you understand it, at least - when as well as how is a man made right with God?

Honestly I find no sense in your last comment, and I do not mean to be rude. I fail to see what you are trying to drive at.

If you want to defend your equation...

justification = imputation + impartation

then please be clear and demonstrate.

Justification to me is being counted righteous, regeneration is the presence of faith in the Gospel. If you agree with those terms, your arguments will makes sense or will help me follow your points because right now you failed to communicate clearly what is it that I am wrong about?

L P Cruz said...

In short Dan, you said my points do not matter to your arguments...
but my point above is ... where are the arguments? You have none.

No wonder even MH as a reader fails to see what are you arguing for or against.

Be a faithful child of Mother Church, please clarify.


Dan Woodring said...

I think you will understand what I am saying better if you stop trying to assume where I am coming from. You have a misunderstand of what the Roman Church teaches. Just a week or so ago you said that "Trent anathamatized imputation."

This is a common problem for Lutherans. You start with a mischaracterization of Catholic Theology, and then when you read something Catholic you try to fit it into your mischaracterization.

But lets just leave Roman Catholic teaching out of this for the moment. You don't seem to believe that I am representative of what Catholic's "really" believe anyway. If you are interested in understanding RC's doctrine of Justification, I suggest you start with St. Augustine. (I would recommend On forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism and On Nature and Grace however, any of his anti-pelagian writings will get you there. I would rather you read Augustine than Dan Woodring anyway.

But Catholic teaching aside, let's just taught about the Lutheran doctrine of justification as it stands on it's own two feet, without comparing it to other theological systems.

In deference to the Lutheran view, you will notice that I have been, in the last couple of posts, used the term "renewal" rather than "regeneration." I believe "renewal" should give us no confusion.

My argument is that the Lutheran view is fatally flawed because it hold three suppositions which cannot reasonably stand together. I've stated these before, but I'll do so again since there seems to be a communication issue here.

1. The unrenewed man cannot trust in Christ (have faith).
2. We are justified (accounted righteous) when we have this trust.
3. Renewal of the man is subsequent to this accounting of righteousness.

This is not really a question about temporal order. It is a question of causality.

acroamaticus said...

I'm going to seek Lito's indulgence (!) to post a question before he replies. Can you define "renewal" as you understand it and are using it in your three points? Thanks.

L P Cruz said...


Please fire away, I can see your point on why you want Dan to define "renewal" because that is what my question will be too.

BTW if there is a problem commenting... click on the right click on the "comment" and choose open in new tab.


L P Cruz said...


I quoted to you canon 12 of Trent. But here it is again inclusive of canon 11.

Canon 11.
If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost,[116] and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.

Canon 12.
If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy,[117] which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.

Does not Trent anathematize the Lutheran doctrine of imputation?

Yes are right, there is a recognition of "imputation" in the RC system, for after all imputation has been a common word in the scholastics before, as I read Preus.

However, the point is that the RC imputation doctrine virtually reaches zero because of its stress on impartation.

Here is your equation again...

justification = imputation + impartation. But imputation ----->0
hence, justification = imputation, virtually speaking.

You have a false premise there and here is where equivocation happen as you represent your syllogism in your 3 points there.

At point 3, you are misrepresenting the Lutheran view in your mind, because the word "renewal" in point 3 is not the same sense as "renewal" in point 1 (unrenewed).

These has been dealt before in the FC/SC
19] For, in the first place, the word regeneratio, that is, regeneration, is used so as to comprise at the same time the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake alone, and the succeeding renewal which the Holy Ghost works in those who are justified by faith. Then, again, it is [sometimes] used pro remissione peccatorum et adoptione in filios Dei, that is, so as to mean only the remission of sins, and that we are adopted as sons of God. And in this latter sense the word is much and often used in the Apology, where it is written: Iustificatio est regeneratio, that is, Justification before God is regeneration. St. Paul, too, has employed these words as distinct from one another, Titus 3, 5: He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Ghost. 20] As also the word vivificatio, that is, making alive, has sometimes been used in a like sense. For when man is justified through faith (which the Holy Ghost alone works), this is truly a regeneration, because from a child of wrath he becomes a child of God, and thus is transferred from death to life, as it is written: When we were dead in sins, He hath quickened us together with Christ, Eph. 2, 5. Likewise: The just shall live by faith, Rom. 1, 17; Hab. 2, 4. In this sense the word is much and often used in the Apology.

I encourage the reader of these comments to look at 20] and the phrase "at the same time ".


Still you have not answered my question - forget how wrong we are at the moment, for the moment, consider how right you are...

What is imputed to the sinner in your system, and when is that thing that is imputed, gets imputed?

I wager, by way of your elaboration on that question, that it will clarify why we are not inconsistent as you suppose.


Augustinian Successor said...

Yes, Trent may not have been anathemasing imputation per se, but definitely *Lutheran* imputation is in view.

Joel Woodward said...


I'm not sure your characterization of the Lutheran postition is accurate. The BoC does not deny that faith is something worked in nobis. the SD writes: "Conversion is such a change in the human mind, will, and heart effected by the activity of the Holy Spirit that the human being, through this activity of the Holy Spirit, can accept the grace offered." (Art. II Par. 83)

But obviously this is not WHY we are saved which is solely due to the imputed righteousness of Christ, extra nos. The BoC also does not use the terminology "renewal" for this but conversion, regeneration or rebirth.

The important thing to remember is the WHY of justification. The restoration of our relationship with God lies solely in being declared just for Christ's sake.

L P Cruz said...


Indeed... from the Catholic Encyclopaedia "The Catholic idea maintains that the formal cause of justification does not consist in an exterior imputation of the justice of Christ, but in a real, interior sanctification effected by grace, which abounds in the soul and makes it permanently holy before God. Although the sinner is justified by the justice of Christ, inasmuch as the Redeemer has merited for him the grace of justification (causa meritoria), nevertheless he is formally justified and made holy by his own personal justice and holiness (causa formalis)."[8]

This is the reason that effectively imputation as the Lutherans understand it is virtually null in RC Theology.

Dan can cry as loud as he can that RC has imputation, imputation, imputation but what does it do? Nothing really.


L P Cruz said...


The important thing to remember is the WHY of justification

Exactly, on what basis are we justified? this is the question which upto now Dan is not willing to answer.


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Kuya,

I have to go Singapore this evening. Only be back on Thursday. Accompanying my boss to do some field work on Malaysia-Singapore bilateral relations, and also take the opportunity to catch up with Reformed friends over there.

Keep up the good work, Bog Brother!

L P Cruz said...


God be with you bro.

I am still waiting for a reply from Dan.