EP Sanders, 'righteoused'

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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
I came across this quote and I am wondering what you think. I know Horton likes the idea of Sanders' transfer terminology with regard to justification as opposed to Dunn or Wright's formulation that it has nothing to do with entrance.
Paul thought that God did something other than keep track of people and alter his opinion about them. God ‘righteoused’ the person of faith as well as reckoned the person to be righteous. The active verb, with God as subject, occurs in Romans 3.26,30;4.5;8.30,33 and Galatians 3.8. The usual formulation is the passive verb, a person is ‘righteoused’. This passive however implies God as the understood subject…This means that the person’s name was not just moved from one side of God’s ledger to another, as reckon might imply, but that the person was transferred to another sphere, called variously ‘the body of Christ’, the Spirit, and the like. In this transfer a real change was effected, the first step towards the glorified body which would be attained at the return of the Lord. As a result of this change the new person found that good deeds flowed out naturally and that everything which the law had required was ‘fulfilled’ in his or her life (Rom. 8.4).” (p. 118)
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Is this a polemic against the formulation contained in the Reformed confessions?
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
Is this a polemic against the formulation contained in the Reformed confessions?
Probably, with the belief that somehow justification by faith is inherently antinomian. However, I am just asking how he notion of 'righteoused' as transfer terminology is something that can help rather than harm the reformed understanding.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The active verb, with God as subject, occurs in Romans 3.26,30;4.5;8.30,33 and Galatians 3.8.
Let's stop to consider the content of these verses. It is impossible to remove the idea of "justify" as a judicial act, and replace it with the notion of a "transfer" and a "real change" of the person. In Romans 3:25-26 the justice of the Judge is fully satisfied by means of propitiation. In 4:5, the object of justification is the "ungodly." In 8:33-34, it is an irrevocable act of God which is grounded on the work of Christ for the believer. Nothing in the believer, not even faith itself, is seen as the basis of this act.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
The active verb, with God as subject, occurs in Romans 3.26,30;4.5;8.30,33 and Galatians 3.8.
Let's stop to consider the content of these verses. It is impossible to remove the idea of "justify" as a judicial act, and replace it with the notion of a "transfer" and a "real change" of the person. In Romans 3:25-26 the justice of the Judge is fully satisfied by means of propitiation. In 4:5, the object of justification is the "ungodly." In 8:33-34, it is an irrevocable act of God which is grounded on the work of Christ for the believer. Nothing in the believer, not even faith itself, is seen as the basis of this act.
Ah. Makes sense nownin light of what you said. It revolves around the whole imputation vs infused righteousness.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Probably, with the belief that somehow justification by faith is inherently antinomian. However, I am just asking how he notion of 'righteoused' as transfer terminology is something that can help rather than harm the reformed understanding.
As with incorporation, there is a blessed doctrine here, but it depends on something being done for the person, not on something in the person. Any attempt to turn justification into a personal quality will turn out to be destructive of the benefits of Christ.

Without imputation of the righteousness of Christ there is no basis for a righteous transfer. Grace reigns through righteousness. This means the just demands of the law must be met. As the ungodly cannot do it for themselves, they must depend entirely and exclusively on what Christ has done.

The Holy Spirit justly charges the legalist with antinomianism in Romans 2. The one who seeks to be justified by something in himself lays aside the authority of the law, makes himself the arbiter of good and evil, and arrogates the office of judge over others.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
Probably, with the belief that somehow justification by faith is inherently antinomian. However, I am just asking how he notion of 'righteoused' as transfer terminology is something that can help rather than harm the reformed understanding.
As with incorporation, there is a blessed doctrine here, but it depends on something being done for the person, not on something in the person. Any attempt to turn justification into a personal quality will turn out to be destructive of the benefits of Christ.

Without imputation of the righteousness of Christ there is no basis for a righteous transfer. Grace reigns through righteousness. This means the just demands of the law must be met. As the ungodly cannot do it for themselves, they must depend entirely and exclusively on what Christ has done.

The Holy Spirit justly charges the legalist with antinomianism in Romans 2. The one who seeks to be justified by something in himself lays aside the authority of the law, makes himself the arbiter of good and evil, and arrogates the office of judge over others.
What then of 2 Corinthians 5:21, where we are the Righteousness of God in Him? Is that before, during or after union/incorporation logically?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What then of 2 Corinthians 5:21, where we are the Righteousness of God in Him? Is that before, during or after union/incorporation logically?
"In him" has to be interpreted by the context. The context has already explained that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. It is a positive act of non-imputation for the benefit of "the world," that is, the world in its moral identity as opposed to God. It is on the basis of what God has done in Christ that the call to reconciliation goes out to the world.

There is a representative or federal union, which makes it possible for the-one-not-having-known-sin to be made by God to be sin for us. As the sin was not His own, likewise the righteousness is not our own. As the sin was imputed to Him, likewise the righteousness is imputed to us. It is imputed to us on the basis that we are federally in Christ. The phrase "in him" must be understood in this sense. It is a representative union.

From the recipient's perspective the call is to be reconciled. There is no call to be united to Christ or to be incorporated into Christ. The gospel never calls for something to be done in us. It calls us to believe in Christ, and to receive His salvation as a free gift.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
The active verb, with God as subject, occurs in Romans 3.26,30;4.5;8.30,33 and Galatians 3.8.
Let's stop to consider the content of these verses. It is impossible to remove the idea of "justify" as a judicial act, and replace it with the notion of a "transfer" and a "real change" of the person. In Romans 3:25-26 the justice of the Judge is fully satisfied by means of propitiation. In 4:5, the object of justification is the "ungodly." In 8:33-34, it is an irrevocable act of God which is grounded on the work of Christ for the believer. Nothing in the believer, not even faith itself, is seen as the basis of this act.
I don't know how Sanders would see his observation relating to the historical theological traditions, but if he does try to use it against the Reformed tradition, perhaps the best answer to such a polemic would be to point out that he is mistaking a part for the whole. For there have been others (e.g. DM Lloyd Jones, Romans ch 5-7) who, while affirming that God's justification of the ungodly is a judicial act and denying that anything in the believer is the basis of the act, do see an element of transfer involved in God's justification of the believer in that the judicially justified believer has been transferred from being in Adam to being in Christ, from being a captive of sin to being dead to sin, and from being inescapable linked to the law to being freed from the law to being made dead to the law.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
The active verb, with God as subject, occurs in Romans 3.26,30;4.5;8.30,33 and Galatians 3.8.
Let's stop to consider the content of these verses. It is impossible to remove the idea of "justify" as a judicial act, and replace it with the notion of a "transfer" and a "real change" of the person. In Romans 3:25-26 the justice of the Judge is fully satisfied by means of propitiation. In 4:5, the object of justification is the "ungodly." In 8:33-34, it is an irrevocable act of God which is grounded on the work of Christ for the believer. Nothing in the believer, not even faith itself, is seen as the basis of this act.
I don't know how Sanders would see his observation relating to the historical theological traditions, but if he does try to use it against the Reformed tradition, perhaps the best answer to such a polemic would be to point out that he is mistaking a part for the whole. For there have been others (e.g. DM Lloyd Jones, Romans ch 5-7) who, while affirming that God's justification of the ungodly is a judicial act and denying that anything in the believer is the basis of the act, do see an element of transfer involved in God's justification of the believer in that the judicially justified believer has been transferred from being in Adam to being in Christ, from being a captive of sin to being dead to sin, and from being inescapable linked to the law to being freed from the law to being made dead to the law.
Thats sort of what I am asking. Is it a good formulation without conflating justification with the start of sanctification as they (or he I mean), seems to do?
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
On the one hand, we ought to be serious enough to examine a person in terms of what he actually says and is trying to teach, rather than grouping him with others with whom there are significant dissimilarities.

In the case of Dunn, Wright, and Sanders, however, it is important to observe the trajectory of their teaching. Despite the differences, they are challenging (in one way or another and to one degree or another) the Reformation doctrine of justification. I am little interested in any view that is counter to justification sola fide, regardless of the nuance applied. Sanders (and Stendahl before him) made the point that Luther and Calvin were wrong on justification.

I have no desire to cross the Tiber and see no biblical or theological reason compelling enough to induce me to do so.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
For there have been others (e.g. DM Lloyd Jones, Romans ch 5-7) who, while affirming that God's justification of the ungodly is a judicial act and denying that anything in the believer is the basis of the act, do see an element of transfer involved in God's justification of the believer in that the judicially justified believer has been transferred from being in Adam to being in Christ, from being a captive of sin to being dead to sin, and from being inescapable linked to the law to being freed from the law to being made dead to the law.
Justification and its "consequences" seem to be fairly and properly distinguished by the Doctor.

Here is an example: http://www.monergism.com/justification-–-exposition-romans-828-30

Justification in its essence is a legal or forensic term, a term that belongs to the realm of the Law Court. It means ‘to declare just,’ and ‘to declare righteous.’ It is the opposite of condemnation. The Christian has moved from a state of ‘condemnation’ to one of ‘justification.’ For this reason the Apostle starts this 8th chapter by saying, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.’ He is taking up again the argument he had left off at the end of chapter 5, where he had been working out some of the consequences of justification. His constant emphasis concerning this is that it is something which is done by God, ‘Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified.’ In other words we do not justify ourselves before God. God justifies us, and He does it–and this is the argument of the first four chapters–entirely apart from us and our works. It is not the result of any merit that is in us. One verse that states this clearly and beyond any doubt is the 5th verse in the 4th chapter: ‘But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.’ God justifies the ‘ungodly’; not the ‘righteous,’ but the ‘ungodly.’
 
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