Monday, February 13, 2012

Romans 4:25 UOJ Fallacies

Yet Scripture teaches only one justification; namely, the one by faith in Christ, Romans 3:28. (Walter A. Maier II, A Summary Exposition of The Doctrine of Justification By Grace
Through Faith)

UOJ stands for Universal Objective Justification which teaches that there are two justifications. The first one is called objective justification, the one (so they say) was when Jesus was raised from the dead, God (according to LC-MS/WELS/ELS, American Synods) in Christ has declared the whole world already righteous. This has already passed and for all people. The other one is called subjective, this will come about when you believe what the first one says about you.

Make no mistake, they do not mean the object of your faith should be the Atonement, not that; they want you to believe the one past that, when (according to UOJers) God has declared you righteous/forgiven already. It has already passed and you believe that (so they say) past declaration that happened before you were born.

I asked one UOJ pastor the following and you will find the conversation here.

Me: Atonement you said in the previous comments that it is the object of faith.(sic)(?)

Response: I did not say that. I have always spoken of God's forgiveness, through and on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ, as the object of faith.

In my early years, I thought it was the Atonement that they meant and I thought it was a labeling mistake, I bought into UOJ before, until I looked deeper.

This is the reason why they won't buy the suggestion to rename OJ to OA, Objective Atonement, or OP, Objective Propitiation. Why not? It is because that is not what they believe! Atonement is not their object of faith, this is contrary to Romans 3:25, where Jesus as Propitiation is the object of faith in that verse. In fact one can say the object of faith in UOJ is not the person or work of Jesus but the justification that has already happened to you in the past when Jesus was raised from the dead.

Where did this idea of come from. Many verses have been alluded too but the famous one is their interpretation of Romans 4:25. According to LC-MS teaching (and the others like WELS/ELS etc.) the "our" mentioned in Romans 4:25 refers to "us human beings in general". You can find this in LC-MS Brief Statement 1932, Article 17b. This verse is extracted from Romans 4:24 and completely isolates it from its context as well as disrespects the nature of St. Paul' rhetorical expression of this verse. Indeed, this is where the LC-MS/WELS/ELS are isolated and cut off from the rest of the Protestant world because if you look at the way independent exegetes and even some Lutheran NT scholars interpret this (non LC-MS/WELS/ELS), there is no way you can responsibly take "our" as the whole unbelieving world. Indeed their interpretation of this verse is truly novel and unique, it stands alone in the Protestant world!

You do not need to be knowledgeable of the Greek to ascertain this. You just need to respect the overall context, "our" refers to believers and the verse is a rhetorical verse.

The first fallacy they claim is this - they say you have to believe in Limited Atonement if you do not accept their interpretation.

This is a non-sequitur bull. The other is that it is the fallacy of tertium non datur; it thinks there is no third possibility. This is a fallacy because there are other Scriptures that teach of Jesus' Atonement as for all people, for example, 1 John 2:1-2, John 3:16 etc., yet justification is not universal but only happens to those who receive by faith in that Propitiation (see again Romans 3:25).

Their (UOJer's) interpretation of Romans 4:25 is "quasi-universalistic" or "crypto-universalistic".

They do not want me to quote to them R. C. H. Lenski because they already branded and gave him a black propaganda, even though Evangelical scholars respect him! Remember what St. Paul said about Elders? He said that they should be respected by outsiders or have a good reputation from outsiders. Apparently this is not valued by UOJers despite the fact that Lenski fits what St. Paul required, to be respected by those outside one's sphere of influence. So I will quote another Lutheran, Peter Stuhlmacher, (Paul's Letter to the Romans, a Commentary, p. 75), on this verse:

Christ's act of sacrifice on the cross ordained by God and endorsed as valid by the resurrection, is and remains the legal ground for the justification of all those who, as the "ungodly", believe in the God who revealed himself in Christ. God's salvific righteousness comes to pass in the resurrected Christ from "now"(Romans 3:21) until the final judgement (Romans 8:33f).

The other fallacy that UOJers commit is to claim that - well if you believe that interpretation then you will have faith in your faith.

This is another fallacy which is called "post hoc ergo propter hoc".

I can not begin to unravel this fallacy, there is so much I could say.

Notice that the objections by UOJers stem not from what the Scripture says, they are not exegetical objections, they are rationalistic objections. The line goes "if you believe that, then you should believe this" etc. This fallacy is easy to spot if you step back for a moment and analyse the objection, the objection does not stem from the text of Scripture, it stems from not believing this or that. The objection is strewn into a straw man argument already and so if you get sucked in such reasoning, the conclusion is already drawn for you. You just have to slot in their paradigm that is why people will not release easily their crutch on UOJ. It is addicting.

We are to believe what Scripture says not believe what we want to believe. In the case of UOJ on this verse, the belief is already determined and so the verse is just coerced to fit that belief. Is this honest or right handling of Scripture?

The unfortunate and nasty thing about UOJers is that they are quick to label as "heretics" those who oppose or are skeptic of their views. Now how many times have I been called that? Take a good look at the exegesis of well known exegetes of the past on this verse. Go to Sanday and Headlam's, or C. K. Barrett's exegetical work. They all agree with Lenski and Stuhlmacher. I will even later go to a theological library and get C. E. B. Cranfield's work and check his take on this. The Book of Proverbs says that in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

The name calling tactic has been employed before by the arch UOJ promoter C. F. W. Walther. UOJers are like their father in the faith. He was cultic and branded those who opposed his cultic ideas as "heretics" so, it is not surprising to see his UOJ followers to be cultic too (if you asked me).

Remember, ex falso quod libet, from what is false, you can deduce anything. UOJ is filled with fallacy and from a falsehood, you can prove anything. That is not a strength, it is a weakness that should be rejected.


joel in ga said...


you have my admiration for fighting this battle. Be of good cheer and encourage yourself in the Lord as you enter and especially as you exit the fray.

Personally I can barely stand reading much conservative Lutheran theology (and I am a conservative Lutheran, more or less) for reasons illustrated by or hinted at in your post.

Not to get sidetracked as internet comboxes are notorious for doing, but I think the Anselmian view of the atonement lends itself to distortions such as UOJ in one denomination and limited atonement in another. The Christus Victor view is the 'tertium datur' needed, IMO.

And thanks for throwing in those cool Latin terms!

LPC said...


Thank you for your good words.

Guess what, that theological library I go to is owned by the Anglicans, it is called Ridley College.

It is in that library I first heard of the buzz on Christus Victor but I have not had the chance to examine it myself.

I will try and do that when I get there this weekend, as I am checking Cranfield's take on Romans 4:25 too.