Author Topic: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?  (Read 990 times)

George Rahn

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2021, 05:29:49 PM »
I suppose it depends on how tightly one defines the Lutheran view of justification.  If it means we are justified "by grace, through faith," and that we are not justified on account of our works, I don't think it's novel at all.  We in the Orthodox Church believe that as well.

I've heard Lutherans use "salvation" as shorthand for "justification," and in that sense, we Orthodox tend to begin to back away and suggest one is not saved unless one is saved into a life that includes good works, though if pushed from the other direction and asked "is it because of your works that you are saved" we would return towards the Lutheran view and say "no."

So much of this stuff comes down to other things though, like the understanding of the human will, what it means to have a free versus a bound human will, and that gets into Christology and a lot of other matters where I think Lutherans do have a unique view.  I would say novel, but I'd expect most of you would disagree on that point.  In any event, I think you have to get pretty deep before the distinctions manifest themselves fully.


I suspect that most church bodies talk about justification and even by God's grace. It seems to me that the stinking point is how do works fit into the equation. It may be that it is the language folks use to talk about works that divides us. Lutherans tend to eschew the word "works," but we're OK with "fruit." Probably because Paul talks about "fruit of the Spirit" (note, singular fruit) and "works of the flesh." Jesus, in Matthew, can talk about our good works (τὰ καλὰ ἔργα) being like a lamp on a hill (5:16). "You will know them by their fruits" (7:16, 20; see also 12:33; 21:43).

Don’t worry about works.  Justification by faith is bound to do good deeds because the person is good.
Once we try to measure whether deeds are good or not we usurp God’s primary role as judge. 
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 05:31:41 PM by George Rahn »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2021, 05:37:11 PM »
It may be important to note that the “I” in justification could be the “…no longer I (me) who lives.”  IMO Galatians is an early letter of Paul and that chapter 2 is autobiographical.  Paul is witnessing to his own loss of self here in view to who Christ is for him now since Christ encountered him.  (Maybe here is a direct reference of Paul’s experience (encounter) on the Damascus road.  It is telling that in both Romans and Galatians the act of justification is not exclusively set in the individual but is in the subject-object relation which Christ now has with Paul (And Paul has with Christ.). Christ is the author of Paul’s new existence.  “That which I now live I live by faith…”. Paul is no longer confined to his sinner self but has been joined to Christ.   Christian faith cannot be self-focused but is a partnership in which Christ is the driver of the relationship.  Of course this is why discipleship is important in that within this encounter with Christ, the Holy Trinity is active in mission in that the encounter with Christ can never be without the Father and the Holy Spirit.  IMO.


Yet, we can surmise that pre-conversion Saul was a boastful individual; and post-conversion Paul remains a boastful individual, especially in 2 Corinthians (7:14; 9:2; 10:8, 13, 15, 167, 17; 11:16, 18, 30; 12:1, 5, 6, 9). However, the tropic of his boasting has changed. It is no longer his own righteousness under the law, which he had and could boast about; but his weaknesses, his reliance on Christ crucified, other people who have come to believe because of his witness, etc.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

George Rahn

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2021, 05:44:25 PM »
It may be important to note that the “I” in justification could be the “…no longer I (me) who lives.”  IMO Galatians is an early letter of Paul and that chapter 2 is autobiographical.  Paul is witnessing to his own loss of self here in view to who Christ is for him now since Christ encountered him.  (Maybe here is a direct reference of Paul’s experience (encounter) on the Damascus road.  It is telling that in both Romans and Galatians the act of justification is not exclusively set in the individual but is in the subject-object relation which Christ now has with Paul (And Paul has with Christ.). Christ is the author of Paul’s new existence.  “That which I now live I live by faith…”. Paul is no longer confined to his sinner self but has been joined to Christ.   Christian faith cannot be self-focused but is a partnership in which Christ is the driver of the relationship.  Of course this is why discipleship is important in that within this encounter with Christ, the Holy Trinity is active in mission in that the encounter with Christ can never be without the Father and the Holy Spirit.  IMO.


Yet, we can surmise that pre-conversion Saul was a boastful individual; and post-conversion Paul remains a boastful individual, especially in 2 Corinthians (7:14; 9:2; 10:8, 13, 15, 167, 17; 11:16, 18, 30; 12:1, 5, 6, 9). However, the tropic of his boasting has changed. It is no longer his own righteousness under the law, which he had and could boast about; but his weaknesses, his reliance on Christ crucified, other people who have come to believe because of his witness, etc.

Yes!  Exactly!

George Rahn

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2021, 05:59:09 PM »
It may be important to note that the “I” in justification could be the “…no longer I (me) who lives.”  IMO Galatians is an early letter of Paul and that chapter 2 is autobiographical.  Paul is witnessing to his own loss of self here in view to who Christ is for him now since Christ encountered him.  (Maybe here is a direct reference of Paul’s experience (encounter) on the Damascus road.  It is telling that in both Romans and Galatians the act of justification is not exclusively set in the individual but is in the subject-object relation which Christ now has with Paul (And Paul has with Christ.). Christ is the author of Paul’s new existence.  “That which I now live I live by faith…”. Paul is no longer confined to his sinner self but has been joined to Christ.   Christian faith cannot be self-focused but is a partnership in which Christ is the driver of the relationship.  Of course this is why discipleship is important in that within this encounter with Christ, the Holy Trinity is active in mission in that the encounter with Christ can never be without the Father and the Holy Spirit.  IMO.


Yet, we can surmise that pre-conversion Saul was a boastful individual; and post-conversion Paul remains a boastful individual, especially in 2 Corinthians (7:14; 9:2; 10:8, 13, 15, 167, 17; 11:16, 18, 30; 12:1, 5, 6, 9). However, the tropic of his boasting has changed. It is no longer his own righteousness under the law, which he had and could boast about; but his weaknesses, his reliance on Christ crucified, other people who have come to believe because of his witness, etc.

Perhaps the surpassing value of the faith relationship drove post-conversion Paul into mission.  That God would save me as such a sinner might be cause to tell others who otherwise would be in despair!
The linchpin is Christ encountering sinners.  To realize that one is valued by God in such a state as they are in (ie. Hopeless-in-self, etc) and that God cares and does something about one’s state is really extremely joyous. 
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 06:03:17 PM by George Rahn »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2021, 06:01:50 PM »
I suppose it depends on how tightly one defines the Lutheran view of justification.  If it means we are justified "by grace, through faith," and that we are not justified on account of our works, I don't think it's novel at all.  We in the Orthodox Church believe that as well.

I've heard Lutherans use "salvation" as shorthand for "justification," and in that sense, we Orthodox tend to begin to back away and suggest one is not saved unless one is saved into a life that includes good works, though if pushed from the other direction and asked "is it because of your works that you are saved" we would return towards the Lutheran view and say "no."

So much of this stuff comes down to other things though, like the understanding of the human will, what it means to have a free versus a bound human will, and that gets into Christology and a lot of other matters where I think Lutherans do have a unique view.  I would say novel, but I'd expect most of you would disagree on that point.  In any event, I think you have to get pretty deep before the distinctions manifest themselves fully.


I suspect that most church bodies talk about justification and even by God's grace. It seems to me that the stinking point is how do works fit into the equation. It may be that it is the language folks use to talk about works that divides us. Lutherans tend to eschew the word "works," but we're OK with "fruit." Probably because Paul talks about "fruit of the Spirit" (note, singular fruit) and "works of the flesh." Jesus, in Matthew, can talk about our good works (τὰ καλὰ ἔργα) being like a lamp on a hill (5:16). "You will know them by their fruits" (7:16, 20; see also 12:33; 21:43).

Don’t worry about works.  Justification by faith is bound to do good deeds because the person is good.
Once we try to measure whether deeds are good or not we usurp God’s primary role as judge.


Yes, that's one way of talking about works. They flow naturally from the lives of believes like good trees naturally produce good fruit.


Greek has two words that are often translated "good".


ἀγαθός is sort of the generic word for "good." It is not always in contrast to "evil," but generally refers to meeting some relatively high standard of quality or of worth and merit. The contrast would be to either failing to meet that high standard or setting a low standard that one is easily able to meet. Besides being translated, "good," it is also translated with "useful, beneficial, helpful." Homer used it of "brave" and "noble" heroes. Also of "virtuous" folks.


Granted, we will never reach the high standards that God has set; but we can reach standards set by society, e.g., driving the speed limit; or the standards set by our own moral code. Our confessions state that we can reach a level of civil righteousness. We can do good things.


καλός is the other word often translated "good." Originally, it carried a sense of "beautiful," then, "serving a good purpose," "that which is fitting." It is the word used in terms of "good fruit" or "good tree" (Mt 3:10; 7:17, 18, 19; 12:33); "good soil" or "good seed" (Mt 13:8, 23, 24, 27, 37, 38). It is used in "the good shepherd" (Jo 10;11, 14) and Jesus' "good works" (Jo 10;32, 33). This word is more about doing what comes naturally. It is variously translated with "beautiful, fine, useful, precious, excellent, pleasant, desirable, advantageous." We can certainly do many things that are useful and helpful to other people or self. We should certainly try to find things that are fitting or appropriate to do given the circumstances.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

George Rahn

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2021, 06:04:25 PM »
I suppose it depends on how tightly one defines the Lutheran view of justification.  If it means we are justified "by grace, through faith," and that we are not justified on account of our works, I don't think it's novel at all.  We in the Orthodox Church believe that as well.

I've heard Lutherans use "salvation" as shorthand for "justification," and in that sense, we Orthodox tend to begin to back away and suggest one is not saved unless one is saved into a life that includes good works, though if pushed from the other direction and asked "is it because of your works that you are saved" we would return towards the Lutheran view and say "no."

So much of this stuff comes down to other things though, like the understanding of the human will, what it means to have a free versus a bound human will, and that gets into Christology and a lot of other matters where I think Lutherans do have a unique view.  I would say novel, but I'd expect most of you would disagree on that point.  In any event, I think you have to get pretty deep before the distinctions manifest themselves fully.


I suspect that most church bodies talk about justification and even by God's grace. It seems to me that the stinking point is how do works fit into the equation. It may be that it is the language folks use to talk about works that divides us. Lutherans tend to eschew the word "works," but we're OK with "fruit." Probably because Paul talks about "fruit of the Spirit" (note, singular fruit) and "works of the flesh." Jesus, in Matthew, can talk about our good works (τὰ καλὰ ἔργα) being like a lamp on a hill (5:16). "You will know them by their fruits" (7:16, 20; see also 12:33; 21:43).

Don’t worry about works.  Justification by faith is bound to do good deeds because the person is good.
Once we try to measure whether deeds are good or not we usurp God’s primary role as judge.


Yes, that's one way of talking about works. They flow naturally from the lives of believes like good trees naturally produce good fruit.


Greek has two words that are often translated "good".


ἀγαθός is sort of the generic word for "good." It is not always in contrast to "evil," but generally refers to meeting some relatively high standard of quality or of worth and merit. The contrast would be to either failing to meet that high standard or setting a low standard that one is easily able to meet. Besides being translated, "good," it is also translated with "useful, beneficial, helpful." Homer used it of "brave" and "noble" heroes. Also of "virtuous" folks.


Granted, we will never reach the high standards that God has set; but we can reach standards set by society, e.g., driving the speed limit; or the standards set by our own moral code. Our confessions state that we can reach a level of civil righteousness. We can do good things.


καλός is the other word often translated "good." Originally, it carried a sense of "beautiful," then, "serving a good purpose," "that which is fitting." It is the word used in terms of "good fruit" or "good tree" (Mt 3:10; 7:17, 18, 19; 12:33); "good soil" or "good seed" (Mt 13:8, 23, 24, 27, 37, 38). It is used in "the good shepherd" (Jo 10;11, 14) and Jesus' "good works" (Jo 10;32, 33). This word is more about doing what comes naturally. It is variously translated with "beautiful, fine, useful, precious, excellent, pleasant, desirable, advantageous." We can certainly do many things that are useful and helpful to other people or self. We should certainly try to find things that are fitting or appropriate to do given the circumstances.

Awesomeness!

George Rahn

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2021, 06:16:42 PM »
I suppose it depends on how tightly one defines the Lutheran view of justification.  If it means we are justified "by grace, through faith," and that we are not justified on account of our works, I don't think it's novel at all.  We in the Orthodox Church believe that as well.

I've heard Lutherans use "salvation" as shorthand for "justification," and in that sense, we Orthodox tend to begin to back away and suggest one is not saved unless one is saved into a life that includes good works, though if pushed from the other direction and asked "is it because of your works that you are saved" we would return towards the Lutheran view and say "no."

So much of this stuff comes down to other things though, like the understanding of the human will, what it means to have a free versus a bound human will, and that gets into Christology and a lot of other matters where I think Lutherans do have a unique view.  I would say novel, but I'd expect most of you would disagree on that point.  In any event, I think you have to get pretty deep before the distinctions manifest themselves fully.


I suspect that most church bodies talk about justification and even by God's grace. It seems to me that the stinking point is how do works fit into the equation. It may be that it is the language folks use to talk about works that divides us. Lutherans tend to eschew the word "works," but we're OK with "fruit." Probably because Paul talks about "fruit of the Spirit" (note, singular fruit) and "works of the flesh." Jesus, in Matthew, can talk about our good works (τὰ καλὰ ἔργα) being like a lamp on a hill (5:16). "You will know them by their fruits" (7:16, 20; see also 12:33; 21:43).

Don’t worry about works.  Justification by faith is bound to do good deeds because the person is good.
Once we try to measure whether deeds are good or not we usurp God’s primary role as judge.


Yes, that's one way of talking about works. They flow naturally from the lives of believes like good trees naturally produce good fruit.


Greek has two words that are often translated "good".


ἀγαθός is sort of the generic word for "good." It is not always in contrast to "evil," but generally refers to meeting some relatively high standard of quality or of worth and merit. The contrast would be to either failing to meet that high standard or setting a low standard that one is easily able to meet. Besides being translated, "good," it is also translated with "useful, beneficial, helpful." Homer used it of "brave" and "noble" heroes. Also of "virtuous" folks.


Granted, we will never reach the high standards that God has set; but we can reach standards set by society, e.g., driving the speed limit; or the standards set by our own moral code. Our confessions state that we can reach a level of civil righteousness. We can do good things.


καλός is the other word often translated "good." Originally, it carried a sense of "beautiful," then, "serving a good purpose," "that which is fitting." It is the word used in terms of "good fruit" or "good tree" (Mt 3:10; 7:17, 18, 19; 12:33); "good soil" or "good seed" (Mt 13:8, 23, 24, 27, 37, 38). It is used in "the good shepherd" (Jo 10;11, 14) and Jesus' "good works" (Jo 10;32, 33). This word is more about doing what comes naturally. It is variously translated with "beautiful, fine, useful, precious, excellent, pleasant, desirable, advantageous." We can certainly do many things that are useful and helpful to other people or self. We should certainly try to find things that are fitting or appropriate to do given the circumstances.

Yes.  Civil righteousness is done with a view to the neighbor!  This is distinct from love within the Christian community in that as we also are totally sinners with other sinners, the law “forces” us and others to be together.  One way or another God’s intent is always with a view to the communal either forced through coercion in the law or granted as gift in the fellowship of disciples.  Some of D. Bonhoeffer’s writing addresses this, I think.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 06:20:04 PM by George Rahn »

Dave Benke

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2021, 06:36:07 PM »
…and, in case one is stumped as to why I brought up discipleship in the discussion:  the disciples carry this Trinitarian encounter as bringing a wider fellowship with others who also have been encountered by way of baptism and their own faith.  Connection with others and the reach for others in mission is to open the joyful encounter to a wider and wider audience.  That is why mission is fundamental to the vibrancy of the Christian faith.

Excellent, and critical to the expansion of Christianity not only in the first three/four centuries but until this very day.

Dave Benke

DCharlton

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Re: Is the Lutheran view of Justification a novelty?
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2021, 07:27:09 PM »
I still like Gritsch and Jenson's description of the Lutheran doctrine of justification as an "ecumenical proposal of dogma."  It is a novelty, in that no one has proposed such a dogma before.  Dogma's often arise because of a theological conflict.  There was no dogma of the Trinity before Nicaea and Constantinople, but that doesn't mean that there was no Trinity exit until the dogma was defined.  Likewise, Lutheran believe that Christians were always justified by grace through faith in Christ.  The purpose of the dogma is to correct error, not to create anything novel. 

Regarding forensic justification, I think it is a mistake to view Luther's doctrine of justification in a narrowly forensic.  The Gospel is a forensic declaration, but it is not only a forensic declaration.  Instead, the Gospel promise not only gives the us information about a divine declaration, it actually gives us Christ.  Christ is the Word.  When a person believes the Word, and takes that Word to heart, the person receives the Word himself.  This is the basis for the Happy Exchange as described in the Freedom of a Christian and in other writings by Luther.
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