Saturday, June 12, 2010

Theological Terminology: Pt. 2

Now, this shows why our opponents are so upset with the claim of universal justification.  

Since they think that word=concept, without variation for contextual meaning, they assume we are saying one of two things.

A. That since when used in relationship to justifying faith, justification= individual salvation, we're teaching universalism.  Now, everyone agrees that this is not true.  Nevertheless, they fear this especially because as crypto-Pietists, they are deeply afraid that if we go around saying that everyone is forgiven, then people will just run around doing whatever they want.  Also, they wouldn't really, really repent or have faith.  

Of course, this might be a valid concern if anyone was teaching universalism- but as we have said again and again, absolutely no one is.  

Also, this all assumes free will to either repent or not repent, to have faith or not.

Lastly, this assumes that telling people that they are forgiven without any strings attached won't create real faith and repentance.  The Word is not effective, it needs to be supplemented by our making ourselves receptive to the work of the Spirit  If that's the case though, it assumes that the Spirit works apart from hearing of the Word, because the speaking of the Word is not effective in and of itself.  This means that our opponents actually buy into the logic of Pietism and Calvinism (something they accuse us of).  More on this in the next post.

B. Because they admit that we do not believe that everyone is automatically saved, and being unable to accept that the word "justify" conveys a different conceptual meaning, they can only conclude that the teaching of universal justification is bizarre in the extreme.  In other words, since the word justification=salvation for them, they take this to mean that their opponents are claiming that we are saved, but not saved by the death of Jesus or that we are saved, and then saved again (hence Jackson's reference to "double justification").  But, they claim, that is non-sensical and therefore it cannot be true or what the Bible and the Confessions mean to convey. 

Also, they assume because something called "Justification" (which they think automatically means individual salvation) is occurring in God's mind and Christ flesh apart from the means of grace, that this is either Pietism or Calvinism, because it means that salvation is happening apart from the means of grace.  

But, of course, no one is claiming that because no one thinks that salvation is being communicated individually.  All one is saying is that salvation, though uncommunicated, has been actualized in an objective and universal sense.  Sin is forgiven and paid for.  
They're not taking into consideration the contextual difference in meaning. 

In actuality, UOJ merely means that sin is paid for and forgiven.  It's a done deal.  God in Christ has wrought forgiveness.  This does not mean all are saved.  Therefore the use of the term "justification" in relation to faith carries with it the application and reception that forgiveness and justification already wrought prior to reception of it.  

Consequently, the meaning of "justification" as it is applied to the universal act of redemption does not carry the contextual meaning of individual salvation the way that "justification" through faith does.

Also, it is wrong to say that it is a "double justification" because Scripture teaches that we "abide" (John 12) in Christ and his already actualized redemptive reality by faith.  We are incorporated into it in Baptism (Rom 6).  Neither do we assume that it happened at one point in time (which seems to be the going assumption- see Jackson's remark about "Abraham being justified by faith, and then again by Christ's death").  Though it happened in time, Christ's sacrifice is eternally before the Father, so our temporal justification by faith means being incorporated into and becoming part of the one, already existing event of justification wrought by the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."  So, our Justification through faith, and the universal objective justification of the cross are a single event in the mind of God.  This is why it is possible for him to have born my sin without me actually being united with him when he did it.

This later critique explains some of Greg Jackson's rather strange arguments made in his talking points.  I couldn't figure out what the heck he was talking about, but if you assume that when UOJ talks about universal justification and also that there is not variation of meaning due to context, it's easy to see how he reaches such strange conclusions. 

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