A few weeks ago, Rev. Paul Rydecki wrote a fine essay entitled The Forensic Appeal to the Throne of Grace in the Theology of the Lutheran Age of Orthodoxy: A Reflection on Atonement and Its Relationship to Justification
In this well written paper, Rydecki quoted Scripture and from the Concordian Fathers that Atonement and Justification are not one and the same thing. It should be admitted that they are related but that does not mean the two are one identical. Rydecki's paper is filled with the statements of the orthodox Lutheran fathers that showed that from their perspective, atonement and justification are not equivalent concepts where one can be used as a substitute for the other. The action of God in the Atonement is not a simultaneous action that God has Justified the whole world ALREADY right there and then.
Now we have been pointing this difference of concept to universal objective justification (UOJ) adherents for many years. Such a category mistake results in confusion, and lots of it. Let me name one right off the hat...
It makes the Means of Grace, that is right, Baptism, The Word, and the Sacrament (Lord's Supper) merely symbolic and thus Zwinglian. It other words, the Means of Grace does not confer justification when it is used and applied. They thus do not confer the present grace of Justification.
Take the case of Baptism. Here, it becomes a reminder of a Justification that has already occurred before the individual is baptised. It becomes a memorial. The same is true for the Lord's Supper, it becomes a memorial of a Justification that has already occurred. Likewise the Word does not convert but tells you to believe the Justification that has already occurred before you were born, before you could hear. These are all contrary to Scripture, for example, Romans 6:1-4, Psalm 19:7, etc.
What would the famous UOJ promoter, the late C. F. W. Walther might say about the wisdom of quoting the BoC fathers, if he were alive today?
Normal people might consider what Rydecki did a reasonable procedure but Walther would have considered Rydecki a very naughty boy.
Here is what he said when he was being challenged in his doctrine of Election...
The principal means by which our opponents endeavor to support their doctrine, consists in continually quoting passages from the private writings of the fathers of our Church, published subsequent to the _Formula of Concord_. But whenever a controversy arises concerning the question, whether a doctrine is Lutheran, we must not ask: "What does this or that 'father' of the Lutheran Church teach in his private writings?" for he also may have fallen into error;
In a typical cultic fashion Walther dismissed the words of the BoC fathers assuming that they were wrong, ... because they disagreed with his innovative view.
In cult like fashion, ala Samuel Huber, Walther did not bother to argue what might the said father meant but rather he dismissed their words as something that should not be taken seriously, a none event. That shows you the attitude of Walther towards his critics. Huber did the same, he purported to know more than the Wittenberg Reformers even charging them of Calvinism, the ideology he claimed he eschewed.
When it comes to UOJ, even UOJ famous proponents admit that it could not be found in the BoC. All of the said portions where UOJ is said to appear in the BoC is what might be called pareidolia (Google it). It is just like finding a rat amongst the rocks in mars or like seeing the Virgin Mary in a tortilla corn chip.
Great post Lito. UOJ is the perfect Last Days apostasy doctrine. It is New Age in it's teaching of different realities in which God makes His divine verdicts - some becoming reality in the other 'reality' and some not. To those who have rejected the Holy Spirit's faith in what it does and what it is, they have found a new kind of comfort that is external to the gracious gift of trust in Christ alone. It's the devil's kind of faith which is just an acknowledgement of a supposed occurance (believing that God has already forgiven the whole unbelieving world and declared them to be righteous in Christ) by which individuals are then 'heaven saved'.
The foundations of UOJ - hewn from faithless man's rational mind in search of some level of comfort - naturally leads to many aberations in what it supposedly teaches, because it is not founded in Scripture or the BOC. One WELSian that I'm currently discussing the doctrine with contends that there are not only forgiven saints in Hell but conversely there are damned in Heaven. As with most discussions with UOJists I'm seeing that the confession that faith is a work of man if it does anything (and Scripture teaches that because it's the righteousness of Christ - it does ALOT!) especially if man is solely forgiven by faith in Christ alone, then it must be regarded as a work of man. Otherwise, in UOJ it's simply a withered and outstreached beggars hand which is the work of God alone.
The Apology Of The Augsburg Confession
What Is Justifying Faith?
The adversaries feign that faith is only a knowledge of the history, and therefore teach that it can coexist with mortal sin. Hence they say nothing concerning faith, by which Paul so frequently says that men are justified, because those who are accounted righteous before God do not live in mortal sin. But that faith which justifies is not merely a knowledge of history, [not merely this, that I know the stories of Christ's birth, suffering, etc. (that even the devils know,)] but it is to assent to the promise of God, in which for Christ's sake, the remission of sins and justification are freely offered. [It is the certainty or the certain trust in the heart, when, with my whole heart, I regard the promises of God as certain and true, through which there are offered me, without my merit, the forgiveness of sins, grace, and all salvation, through Christ the Mediator.] And that no one may suppose that it is mere knowledge we will add further: it is to wish and to receive the offered promise of the remission of sins and of justification. [Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure. It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ.]
You nailed it down well. That is my opinion too Brett, in UOJ, faith is not a trust but an ascent. It is an ascent to an idea that everyone has now been justified be they believe it or not.
So one wonders about a soul being converted by the Word.
St. Paul I believe exemplifies saving faith produced by the HS when he said...
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
2 Tim 1:12.
What is it UOJ declares when Scripture teaches the forgiveness of sins solely by faith in Christ alone - "But where is the comfort in that! I would first have to know I believe in Christ before I could be comforted and believe my sins are forgiven! Better my sins are forgiven before I believe - in fact - in that I can believe!" (W)ELS Chief UOJist Siegbert W. Becker said the same thing in his landmark essay on UOJ's Justification.
I've asked the (W)ELS individual I've been discussing this with for permission to move the discussion to this blog as your posts are quite pertinent to the topic. I'm awaiting his review of the blog and request your permission to do so. He has a very emphatic confession of UOJ.
Christ's blessings Lito,
Yes please, he is most welcome to bring his discussion here in this blog.
I wanted to comment also on the Becker statement the first time I saw it at Ichabod when Dr. Greg posted your quote.
We can see in that comment that it is not Scripture that is carrying or leading the formation of doctrine but it is Becker's rationalistic and humanistic thinking. He presupposed that for man to believe something that thing should first exist, yet the Means of Grace does the opposite. It makes us believe in the promise just like Abraham did, for Abraham did not see physically for example, that he would be the father of nations. Yet he believed the promise of God.
Pareidolia - handy term. Thanks for the vocabulary boost!
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