It happened while engaging a long time Lutheran acquaintance on a discussion board. There I was hearing a theology coming from this Lutheran that all men have been given the gift of faith. I contacted another Lutheran acquaintance who informed me what exactly was going on here: a particular Lutheran theology of justification popularly referred to UOJ.
If I've got it correct, UOJ holds Jesus has died for the sins of the world (all men without distinction or exception), and was raised for (and accomplished) the justification of all men. The conclusion that follows is that all men were objectively justified when Jesus rose from the dead. What needs to happen then is for each person to experience subjective justification (a person accepts what Christ has done in objective justification).
Another Lutheran blogger has put together a brief UOJ primer that's worth a look, this post as well has some helpful clarifications. According to the author of the later link, a great majority of Lutherans in the United States hold to UOJ. Based on interactions with a number of Lutherans over the years, that a majority of North American Lutherans hold to UOJ would make sense to me. Whether or not UOJ is a deviation from earlier Lutheranism is not a topic I care to engage (the last thing I need is countless hours of research on a topic I'm only mildly interested in). Some of the blog posts mentioned already go into this topic historically.
The other Lutheran position is referred to as Justification By Faith Alone (JBFA). What's one of the differences? My helpful Lutheran acquaintance explains:
"There is one vital aspect in this debate that must be brought to light. The two camps, JBFAer and UOJers differ in the object of faith. Consistent UOJers are unanimous in this, that for them the object of faith is not the Atonement that happened in the past as payment for sins, for them the object of faith is the Justification that has already, so they say, occurred 2000 years ago. In this regard the commentator R. C. H. Lenski is correct in his criticism of them. In his commentary on Romans 1:17, Lenski was well correct that in the UOJ scheme of things, there really is no declaration of righteousness that happens when a person believes because the declaration already happened in the past. Whereas in JBFA, the object of faith is the Atonement in accordance to Romans 3:21-26, specially, v.25. UOJers are quick to claim that we are twisting their words, but deny as much as they want, the effect of their teaching is that it simply makes justification a mythical. Lenski rebuts well the idea that if you believe in such a way, you are being synergistic."Of course, any modern-day discussion of justification can become quite technical, so I'm sure this sparse blog post has only scratched the surface. I offer it really for my Reformed readers- those particularly who wonder why so many serious Lutherans on the Internet appear to dislike Reformed theology so much. Because Reformed theology holds to limited atonement, this doctrine is seen as a direct assault on objective universal justification. It certainly has explained a few things to me. If any of my Reformed friends have interactions with Lutherans on the atonement or other aspects of Calvinism, I suggest becoming acquainted with UOJ so you don't end up talking past whichever Lutheran you're in conversation with. Slow down, and make sure to define your terms carefully.
Martin Yee has suggested this link, Kurt Marquart on Objective Justification helps explain UOJ from the perspective of someone who holds to it. This link makes the following comment:
I agree with Henry Hamann that the terminology “objective/subjective justification” is less than ideal since “subjective justification . . . is every whit as objective as objective justification.” On the other hand, when Calvinists use the same terminology, it expresses their meaning very well: “Passive or subjective justification takes place in the heart or conscience of the sinner.” The Reformed reject universal grace, hence cannot mean general justification by “objective justification;” and “subjective justification” means for them something experiential—precisely what it does not mean for Lutherans. Biblically, justification is God’s act, which faith receives or believes, but does not feel or “experience.”This writer is quoting Berkhoff who indeed does use the terms objective and subjective justification. It appears to me the author though is putting words into Berkhoff's mouth. Berkhoff appears to be saying nothing more than a sinner becomes aware that a pardon has been granted because of Christ. The conclusion reached is in error. The idea that "faith receives or believes" is indeed... an experience as well in Lutheranism. In other words, Marquart is making a statement that equally applies to Lutheranism if Berkhoff is quoted correctly.
Berkhoff is saying that actively or objectively God makes a divine declaration that the demands of the law are met for a sinner, and this logically precedes faith. For passive of subjective justification, Berkoff states, "The granting of pardon would mean nothing to a prisoner, unless the glad tidings were communicated to him and the doors of the prison were opened. Moreover, it is exactly at this point that the sinners learns to understand better than anywhere else that salvation is of free grace."