Saturday, January 26, 2013

Continuing Lutheran Justification Controversy

One of the regular Lutheran blogs I visit is the Lutheran Theology Study Group. Recently they posted, Lutheran Justification Controversy Redux. According to the entry, "Basically, Rev Paul Rydecki believes that justification happens only when faith is present. WELS holds that Christ has justified all upon his death and resurrection. Faith appropriates this justification." Rydecki was tossed out of WELS for his position.  A good quick summary of Rydecki's position is found here:
If we want to be Dresden Lutherans, then we will teach justification by faith alone as the chief article of the Christian faith. The justification of the poor sinner before God is presented explicitly and quite exhaustively in the Lutheran Confessions (and by other 16th Century Lutheran theologians) as including four key components, without any of which the poor sinner is not, in any effective sense, justified before God: 1) the grace of God, 2) the merit of Christ, 3) the means of grace, and 4) faith in Christ. The Confessions do not speak of an effective sense in which all sinners have already been justified before God whether they believe in Christ or not, nor do I believe the Scriptures to teach such a thing, yet such is commonly heralded among Lutherans today as the “central teaching of the Bible.” I contend that our Dresden forefathers did not miss anything or take anything for granted in this chief article of the Christian faith. They correctly taught the universal atonement or satisfaction made by Christ for the sins of the whole world, whether a person ever comes to believe it or not. Thus, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation were, indeed, won for all people by Christ on the cross, through His merit alone. But no one is forgiven, justified, made alive or saved apart from the means of grace and apart from faith in Christ, which is graciously worked by the Holy Spirit. Dresden Lutherans would never think of qualifying Luther’s battle cry, “Faith alone justifies!”, with “Yes, but, only in a subjective sense, since we know that all people are already justified without faith!”
As far I've understood Martin Luther, I've always thought this was his view as well.

13 comments:

Martin Yee said...

Hi James,

The Missuori Synod and the WELS' view is the majority view which almost all Lutherans subscribe to, Rev Rydecki's view is only subscribed to by a small minority. Actually both sides believe in justification by faith alone. Good works does not count for justification before God. Nobody said that faith is not necessary for justification. Just that the majority view is that justification has an objective/subjective side to it like two sides of the same coin. Scripture teaches that Christ died and rose for our justification. That is the objective side, when in faith we appropriate that justification that is the subjective side. Another thing we need to know is when Luther talks about justification and sanctification, he does not always use them in the same way all the time. It depends on the context he is using it. Sometimes he use in in a broad sense, sometimes a narrow sense. Rev Rydecki is probably talking about justification in a narrow sense.

The above is based on my limited understanding and I may be wrong.

Regards,
Martin Yee

James Swan said...

Martin,

Thanks for the comments. As I read briefly through Rev. Rydecki's view, it sounds a lot like Luther's view to me (and still does).

Have any of the "majority view" Lutherans produced any studies on Luther's view?

Curious.

yeebetsy said...
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yeebetsy said...
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Martin Yee said...

Hi James,

You may like to check out this article by Tom Hardt at
http://hans.blc.edu/~eteigen/Theology_&_Church_History_files/Justification%20and%20Easter.pdf

Objective/Subjective justification is not unique to Lutherans, even a Baptist hold this view, see
http://lutheranpastor.wordpress.com/2008/09/26/objective-subjective-justification/

Below is the link to the Missouri Synod's CTCR Statement on it
http://www.google.com.sg/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=44&cad=rja&ved=0CEYQFjADOCg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ltsg.edu%2FPrograms%2FLutherStudies%2Ffiles%2FLutherJustGlobal-edtd&ei=fjUFUb_4Jcb5rAe1yYHwBg&usg=AFQjCNGiNwyeW1zq79-YvuSULAuPpgrtMw&sig2=fC61D89Ee_XY2JZnQApfPg

Siegbert of WELS paper on justification can be downloaded here
http://www.google.com.sg/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=10&cad=rja&ved=0CH0QFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wlsessays.net%2Ffiles%2FBeckerJustification.rtf&ei=hjoFUbO_Ms_PrQf8_IGgCA&usg=AFQjCNGw_HruG9kORn98Fh4oQd0Nyl7ZDA&sig2=Ia2SORjwsDe8DwUpEqRIOA&bvm=bv.41524429,d.bmk

Regards,
Martin

Andrew said...

I agree with Reverend Rydecki. Since justification is a legal declaration of the sinner's being righteous before God. It only serves to confuse to say "you are forgiven and justified already; but you wont be justified really until you believe". The bible doesn't talk that way. It's nonsense.

Martin Yee said...

Dear Andrew,

Sorry, but the Bible does talk this way. See Romans 4:25. So you are saying the Bible talk nonsense?

Regards,
Martin

Andrew said...

Martin, I have indeed read Romans. 4:25 "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

But consider the context, sir. The entirety of Romans 4 is an argument for justification by faith apart from works.
Verse 24 and 25 together say "But for us also, to whom it (righteousness)shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

The "us" and the "our" are the same justified group. Is that justified group the entirety of humanity? When we simply move on to the next verse, Romans 5:1, we see that it is not.
5:1 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"

So verse 24 says that righteousness is imputed to those who believe on Jesus (the imputation of righteousness being justification). Verse 25 says that he was raised "for our justification" and the first verse of chapter 5 simply re-enforces the definition of the the group about whom Paul is speaking. Those believing are the justified ones.
We are declared righteous by faith. Justification before faith? That is nonsense. That is not biblical, brother.

Martin Yee said...

Andrew,

Thanks for the input. Learn something new today.

Regards,
Martin

Andrew said...
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Nathan Rinne said...

James,

Perhaps of help: http://jackkilcrease.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-rydecki-situation.html

+Nathan

Martin Yee said...

Looks like this controversy is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon as both sides are digging in with their respective positions.

Nathan said...

More helpful stuff:

http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2013/02/atonement-theories-and-objective.html