Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Will the real oddball please stand up?




I, along with Dr. Jackson, the Ichabod, have been called an oddball by a Lutheran Internet blogger. The actual quote by Martin Yee can be found here, at Beggars All Reformation run by a good Internet acquaintance, James Swan.

No one calls you an oddball unless the person is opposed to what you stand for and since I am known as an anti-UOJ, I can only assume that the gentleman who called me by that label must be pro-UOJ. I am not deluded in thinking I am well liked by people, I am not. Now,  I have been to his blog and I could not detect if he has his own articulation of UOJ since most of his posts are bits and pieces of items normally from various authors, i.e., theologians or scholars, and since he recommended to James Swan to read Marquart on UOJ, I can safely assume Yee accepts the authority of the UOJ masters.

So let me consider some of the creative ways UOJers are using Scripture to promote the idea that all have already been justified, declared righteous and hence, forgiven automatically at the Cross.

The first attempt was in Romans 4:25. In this post I have outline why their favorite verse does not teach their theory but rather that if an individual swallows such interpretation, he/she must swallow other inconsistencies against Scripture. Indeed, this is where the Synodic Lutherans of USA are quite peculiar to the rest of the Lutheran world. In fact, they are peculiar also to the rest of the Protestant world.  Only the subscribers to UOJ take Romans 4:25 to mean that by that verse the whole world even those yet to be born are already justified.

The second one is Colossians 2:14 found in this blog post by a member of Steadfast Lutherans [sic] (so they call themselves) found here.  Let me repeat what was said and let me put my emphasis on a bad interpretation of Col 2:14

This is to say, there would be nothing real for faith to receive and cling to. When we talk about the objective nature of justification, the terms used relate to Christ’s work as it satisfies the legal requirements of the Law with the whole of mankind in view. That is, the record of debt against the world, with all its legal demands, has been blotted out (Col 2:14), the sins of the world absolved, and this pardon is now freely offered to all in the Word and Sacraments. Some will receive through God given faith this gift to their joy, while others will sadly continue to reject this gift to their own damnation (Mark 16:16)

I have reacted to this interpretation and you will find my counter discussion of this found in my posts, here and here. I have continued to reflect on this passage over the past months and in this occasion I shall add more argument why Col 2:14 is being misused in that quote.

According to Pierce, by virtue of Col 2:14, all legal demands against the world are gone; the Law has no more teeth to bite anyone. Something fishy is going on in here because the word “world” is being used without qualification.  Is this true, that the world has already been absolved of the Law’s demands? If so, why do we baptize anyone? Scripture says that sin is transgression against the Law. If the Law has no more claims on anyone, even perhaps a Christian, why do we confess our sins and why do we have the promise that if we confess them God, cleanses and forgives (1 John 1:9)?

If we read the whole context of Col 2:14, i.e, verses 8-14 inclusive we see that St. Paul was referring to the Christian, it is only to the Christian where the demands of the Law have been thwarted because as v.12 says he/she has been baptized, meaning the sinner has been incorporated into Christ by that Means of Grace. St. Paul was addressing the Christian living in Colossia. The thwarting of the Law’s demands happens only to the believer and not to the whole world without qualification.

This is sometimes where I find how UOJers are like Calvinists in the reverse order. When the Bible uses pronouns, like “us”, we” and they are a referent to the Christian, the UOJer interprets it to mean the whole human race. On the other hand when the pronouns “us”, “we” as a generic referent to the human race, the Calvinists confine it to believers.   It is only through the JBFA Lutheran that I find there is consistency and respect for the language of Scripture.

Scripture interprets Scripture, in fact according to St. Paul which I have stated in the said posts, it is the Christian who is not under the Law, because he is now under grace -  Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Who is now under grace? It is the believer, the sinner who trusts in Christ. It is the one united with Christ who is freed from the claims of the Law because he/she has died with Christ in baptism. The Law has no more claim on dead people yet only those in whom the Means of Grace have been applied are the ones declared dead by St. Paul in Romans 6.

So here once again, we see a peculiar way of taking Scripture found in Col 2:14.

Please do not get me started on Ephesians 2:15.  Luckily no one has yet attempted to say the same thing in the Ephesian passages.

So I say, who is the real oddball here? The UOJ Lutheran or the JBFA Lutheran?

15 comments:

Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel said...

Dr. Cruz -

In one comment posting, you rip the "universal objective justification" security blanket, to shreds! You aptly expose the untoward foolish and false hermeneutics of those who oppose Scripture's and Luther's "justification by faith alone:"

I quote you:

>>>>>>> ...... If we read the whole context of Col 2:14, i.e, verses 8-14 inclusive we see that St. Paul was referring to the Christian, it is only to the Christian where the demands of the Law have been thwarted because as v.12 says he/she has been baptized, meaning the sinner has been incorporated into Christ by that Means of Grace. St. Paul was addressing the Christian living in Colossia. The thwarting of the Law’s demands happens only to the believer and not to the whole world without qualification....... <<<<<<<<

I agree. You are not the "oddball." But, those who stubbornly continue in their anti-Scriptural teaching of "universal objective justification (UOJ); they are the bizarre ones! May the good Lord have mercy on them and may His Holy Spirit convict them of their sin. May they confess their sin of molesting Scripture and forsake their error!

Nathan M. Bickel

www.thechristianmessage.org
www.moralmatters.org

LPC said...

Pr. Nathan,

Bizarre is a good word that describes UOJ interpretation of Scripture.

LPC

G. L. Jackson said...

The Wisconsin cult's reactionary persecution of justification by faith stands in stark contrast to its complete approval of Mark Jeske's moonbeam dogma, his unionism with anything that moves.

LPC said...

Dr. Greg,

Cult is the appropriate word.

WELS' action puts it high in the cult meter and I am wondering how the LC-MS is stacking up when it comes to abusive practices.

LPC

David Cochrane said...

Hi Lito,

Long time no post. Over the time of absence I have done much reading on the differences from the resources you speak of.

I am still sure the JBF alone apart from works of the law is held by both sides.

I still am not convinced that one can have JBF, in your understanding, and have any certainty of salvation. I am not calling you or Dr Jackson or anyone else a Calvinist. But without UOJ one still has to look for the presence of faith to know if justified. The focal point always must be the cross of Jesus.

It is a sadness all this tossing back and forth with the ad homs has to keep happening. From both sides of course. And very much a tragedy that this division has ousted otherwise trained clergy who wish to remain faithful.

I pray we can renew our enjoyable conversations we had in the past.

God's peace. †

David Cochrane

Brett Meyer said...

Mr. Cochrane states, "But without UOJ one still has to look for the presence of faith to know if justified"

Yes, this is Scripturally true. One must have faith to know that they are justified. In fact, Christ states that a Christian should examine themselves to see if they have faith in Him. So that those who do not have faith in Christ are called by Christ - reprobates. Not justified but reprobates.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Why is it important to know if you have faith in Christ - because those who believe in Christ alone are forgiven and saved eternally. Those who do not believe in Christ remain under God's wrath and condemnation.

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

UOJ makes Christ the propitiation for the whole unbelieving world such that they without faith have been declared by God to be Justified in Christ - but Scripture teaches the opposite. Only those in Christ by Faith have obtained Him as Mediator.

Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Romans 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

The remission of sins - Justification - is solely through faith alone.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

7 Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

UOJ and it's proponents attack the righteousness of faith which is Christ's righteousness and of which He is the Author and Finisher of. That is why it is solely by faith alone that a man in justified and never before.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

LPC said...

Dear David,

Thanks for dropping by. You will notice that in last couple of years I have blog about nothing else except Justification. I do not blog about liturgy, about lofty or deep theology, and I have not blog about anything. Yet I am not bored though my old friends find this blog boring now a days. I hope this is proof that I take Luther's teaching seriously who said - you can get many things in the Bible correct but if you get Justification wrong, you are still in a pile of pooh (my French version).

I would love for us to continue our conversation.

I still am not convinced that one can have JBF, in your understanding, and have any certainty of salvation.

David this is not true. I know Jesus died to pay for my sins literally as the HS through Scripture says this to me. Now I have not seen Jesus nailed to the Cross, I have not seen him rise from the dead, I have seen none of that but I know they all took place. This is what I confess. Having said I have never seen these, yet I believe - what would you call that? In my book that is faith ( I had an argument about this with Paul McCain).

Further what you say is also not true on account of the experience of St. Paul who said...2 Tim 1:12
nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Examine for yourself what Scripture teaches about faith, I recommend Heb 11:1.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What UOJ misses is that faith itself is the evidence or proof of things not seen.

I have rallied against UOJ because it is an improper way of speaking about Justification. If you are going to believe in UOJ then you must believe that the whole world ALREADY has been declared righteous in Christ! But what is the flagship verse for this? As per UOJ it is Romans 4:25. I have dealt with this and have shown evidence both by Scripture and commentators that such a take on this verse makes a US Synodical Lutheran at odds with the rest of the Protestant and non-US Lutheran world.

When I began in Lutheranism, I thought UOJ was just another way of speaking about justification in fact I spoke the same way until I obtained proof that the object of faith in UOJ is not the same as JBFA as taught by Scripture. In UOJ you are to believe that you already have been justified 2000 years ago, i.e., been declared righteous, that is been declared that way before you were born or before you could believe.

Romans 4:3 denies this.

It is no wonder that BoC signers taught and Luther too that faith alone justifies. Because faith is never authored by anyone except Jesus. Faith does not rest on experience because as I said, I have never seen Jesus but seeing him would be an experience, faith rest in nothing except God's Word.

Faith is a wonderment yet UOJ do not find this mysterious at all, to them faith does not change a man, to them it is shear empty - for them there is nothing to it.

So UOJ and Walther wind up teaching a different Jesus because the Jesus of the Bible always get excited when he sees it and would do more miracles when faith is around. Jesus marvelled at it when people display faith in him and he forgave sins whenever he sees it.

I rally against UOJ with no other reason but that it is a wrong way of speaking about the Gospel, about Justification.

Blessings to you too.

LPC



Martin Yee said...

Hi Lito,

I have removed my post at James Swan's blog. How are things down under. Hope to visit Melbourne one day. Never been there.

Warm regards,
Martin Yee

Martin Yee said...

Hi Lito,

Heard that the pay is good in Australia as currency is strong. Do they welcome Asian immigrants? How did you get visa to work there? My daughter hope to get work and permanent residence in Australia later. Will it be difficult to apply PR?

Thanks.

Martin Yee



LPC said...

Hi Martin,

You did not have to take your comments down, the Internet is a free market of ideas and you are entitled to your opinion as I am. Anyway thanks for doing so. I hope you did so in the belief we are not oddballs after all. Unfortunately whatever we publish in the Net, it is there for historical posterity.

Melbourne has been voted the most liveable city in the world for the last couple of years.

The pay is good but our taxes are slightly higher than the US. Some Australians I was told, by an Australian (an anglo white himself) that they are crypto-racists.

I came to Australia through a company nomination program 25+ years ago. I was working for a multi national US based company called UNISYS. I was one of the two experts in a mainframe division in the Asian region. They sent me here for a project but my Australian managers offered me to stay.

The usual route people take to get here is to study a profession which Australia is in dire need and then work in that field for at least 2 years then they can apply as an independent migrant. Another one is study that profession here and after they graduate they are given 3 years as a temporary resident to find a job, and if they maintain this job for a year, they can convert their visa into permanent visa.
For a visit and work - Australia has work-visit visa for young people. Singapore may be one of those countries Australia has an arrangement with.

I like Singapore, I have been there 3 times. I also preached for a group of Filipino workers that meet at a large Methodist church there, that was when I still had some ministry credentials.

LPC

Martin Yee said...

Hi Lito,

Thanks for the kind info. Many Asians like to migrate to Australia if they can. It is a big and beautiful country with much resources.

There are indeed many Filipinos working and living in Singapore too. They are a nice people. But I have no chance to go to Philippines so far. Heard there is a nice volcano and lake near Manila.

Singapore now has 2 nice pandas in the zoo and also a new Gardens by the bay which is quite spectacular.

Thanks for sharing and learning together as fellow Asian Lutherans.

Warm regards,
Martin Yee

David Cochrane said...

Lito,

Thank you for your willingness to continue this discussion. I was far from bored. I wanted to study it deeper. I wanted to be away from all the heat of the back and forth.

One question. Do you believe your adversaries are not Justified?

I would like to take this point by point. I find this is more effective way of discussion.

Pax

LPC said...

Hi David,
One question. Do you believe your adversaries are not Justified?

First and foremost, I believe as I have said repeatedly the reason I contend against it is because it is a false way of speaking or it is an improper way of speaking about justification.

Many people who are into UOJ have not actually considered the real issues with it. For my case, prior to being Lutheran, I already realised Jesus died for me. I realised this when at my conversion. In the long run my dwelling into Calvinism dwarfed this and as I transitioned to Lutheranism due to the Sacraments, I at the start thought that UOJ was just another way of speaking about the atonement--- until I found out that it speaks beyond it.

So I allow for the possibility that there are people in UOJ that are into a happy inconsistency.

Since I do not know the disposition of a person's heart I can not judge people personally, I leave the final say to God.

I can only say yes or no to what is confessed, believed and being taught by people. That one I can evaluate against Scripture.

In so much that the object of faith in UOJ is the justification that happened allegedly for human beings 2000 years ago, which is not found in Scripture, the object of faith is different from JBFA and therefore false with all its attending conclusions.

I think it is not fruitful to make me as a judge - that is very subjective.

What is fruitful is to discuss whether or not a teaching is Scripture or not and then follow whatever conclusions Scripture may have for teachings not conforming to it.

If you notice, and if you have read Hunnius contra Huber, Hunnius attacked Huber's teaching but I do not recall him condemning Huber to eternal damnation. The teaching of Huber is definitely damnable but it is a teaching that sends people to hell.

LPC

David Cochrane said...

Lito,

I have another question based on your answer. If the teaching of Huber, is damnable and damning other, how can one assume he is not damned himself?

In addition all your adversaries should be considered damned as well. Jesus had much to say about those who cause his ones with small faith to stumble. So would it not be better to label Huber as a damned false teacher? Thereby including all the teacher of UOJ after them. This approach, perhaps, would warn people away from them to follow Our Lord's voice.

David

LPC said...

I have another question based on your answer. If the teaching of Huber, is damnable and damning other, how can one assume he is not damned himself?

Because you really do not know if he repented. SO you can only make IF statements. If Huber did not repent of his false teaching after the Wittenberg Theologians corrected him, then yes - he is damned.

It is only proper to speak contingently, i.e., if a person embraces false teaching, yes, the person will be damned if he exits this world in that state. But I do not have false knowledge of that.

For example we know Judas was lost because Scripture said so, We only know what Scripture said about certain people but we know it only because of Scripture.

In addition all your adversaries should be considered damned as well. Jesus had much to say about those who cause his ones with small faith to stumble. So would it not be better to label Huber as a damned false teacher? Thereby including all the teacher of UOJ after them. This approach, perhaps, would warn people away from them to follow Our Lord's voice.

That would be too simplistic as a view.

For the record, the UOJers were the first to call us heretics and thus damned.

As I said, many people are in UOJ today because they have not fully studied the history and implication of UOJ. Calling people names is not sufficient. That would be the style of UOJers but that is not our style.That is why we present Scriptural evidence and back it up with arguments.

You can not dwell on a false teaching and think it will not do harm to your soul. I think such needs no further parsing. I do not hesitate that UOJ is false, damnable and in error - what more should people conclude about that? That does not need further breaking down, know what I'm sayin??

James 3:1.


LPC