Saturday, June 12, 2010

Theological Terminology Pt. 1

One of the difficulties we've had in this UOJ debate is the that it's been unclear as to how certain theological terminology is being used.  

Also, many of our opponents seem to have an unusual concept of how language functions.  

First, they assume that word=concept.  So, if a specific word isn't present, then the concept isn't being conveyed.  

For this reason, they think that the rhetorical strategy of simply piling up Bible quotes and Confessional quotes is convincing.  

In other words, if they can show that certain words are there, then it automatically means that certain concept are there as well.  Secondly, if certain words aren't there, then certain concepts aren't there either.

So, the anti-UOJ argument goes like this: 1. The Bible never uses the exact words "Jesus by his death forgave the whole world" 2. The Confessions never use the word "justification" in relationship to atonement.  3. Therefore, the concept that God forgave the whole world in the cross and the empty tomb is not present in Scripture or Confessions, so HA!, WE WIN!

Conversely, Greg Jackson and his fellow anti-UOJ partisans historical argument goes like this.  1. The words "Universal Objective Justification" are be traced back to Georg Knapp.  2. Knapp was a Pietist.  3. Therefore, UOJ is conceptually Pietist, because the words came from a Pietist.

There's also a sub-argument that comes with this that it's Calvinist also because a Calvinist translated his work into English.  So, again, a Calvinist gave the English words there meaning and therefore it's Calvinist.

A couple remarks.

1. The Bible doesn't use words consistently, therefore if you were to claim that in the Bible word=concept, then you're going to start claiming that the Bible contradicts itself which is clearly not true.  

For example, the word "Justification" is used by Paul to signify that God has made his judgment in favor of you for the sake of Jesus and therefore you can be assured that you will be vindicated on the last day.  The same idea is present in Jesus' ministry, where he as the eschatological judge the "Son of Man" he comes and tells people that they are forgiven.  By doing this, the judge tells them what the verdict is going to be ahead of time.  He gives his Apostles the ability to do this as well, which explains why Paul believes his Word is the same as the Word of God and it is called the ministry of reconciliation.

So, is the word "Justification" being used with Jesus? No.  But there's no reason to think that a different idea about salvation is being talked about here.  Many liberal critics of the Bible actually think Jesus contradicts Paul on this point because they don't use the same words.  But as we can see, Jesus and Paul both agree the that Word of forgiveness assures people of their vindication before hand.

Similarly, the word "Justification" is used in the Epistle of James.  Luther was deceived into thinking that this was a non-Apostolic word because James says that Abraham was "also justified by works."

If we study the context closely though, James is referring to and citing Genesis 22.  There God says "I know now that you are righteous because you have not held back your son from me."  Of course God knew before hand also.  To "know" in the Bible means to experience or suffer someone.  It's the same word used for sexual intercourse.  So, what God is saying is that by Abraham obeying him, he has now experience the living nature of his faith.  

Consequently, I agree with Calvin that "Justification" in this context means "appearing just before others."  In other words, showing your faith and therefore your justice before others.  It doesn't mean eschatological vindication will occur because of works, because the context shows that the word is being used otherwise.

We could also point to the Confessions on this point.  "Gospel" in the Augustana means "a summary of Apostolic teaching" in other words, the whole counsel of God.  In the FC, it means, the promise concerning Jesus' forgiveness.  

Justification means sanctification and justification in the Apology- it only means justification in the FC.  

This is one of the reasons why the argument "Just show me where the Confessions say the whole world is justified" doesn't make a lot of sense.  If we just went with terminology and not concepts, I could show you that justification is sanctification, but that it's also not sanctification.  Again, this  would be a contradiction.  But there is no contradiction.  People just using words differently in different contexts.

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