Reformed Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness Refuted

“You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (Mark 1:11)

Christ’s earthly life and/or obedience to the law will be called R and his other acts as a divine person will be called D.

(1) R & D are belong Christ as a Divine Person equally. If R & D are not predicable of the same *subject* at all times, then Christ is (at least) two persons.

(2) If R is predicated of a divine person, accredited to him as a divine person, but also imputed to human persons as having performed R, then it follows that forensically the divine subject is a human subject or the human subjects are divine subjects, that is, through the Incarnation either a divine person forensically became a human person or human persons forensically become divine persons.

(3) If R is imputed to human persons as though executed by a human subject, then it follows that Christ is a human person and his personal righteousness creaturely rather than divine.

(4) If (1) is true, then (2)-(3) are false.

Comments and criticisms of this argument are not only welcome but actively sought.

“We are considered, as soon as we believe, as though the works of Christ here our works. God looks upon us as though that perfect obedience, of which I have just now spoken, had been performed by ourselves,—as though our hands had been bony at the loom, an though the fabric and the stuff which have been worked up into the fine linen, which is the righteousness of the saints, had been grown in our own fields. God considers us as though we were Christ—looks upon us as though his life had been our life—and accepts, blesses, and rewards us as though all that he did had been done by us, his believing people.” (Charles Spurgeon, The Lord Our Righteousness”)

[H/tip to Jay Dyer and Perry Robinson.]

84 Responses to Reformed Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness Refuted

  1. Jay Dyer says:

    MG, Hit me up privately and we’ll discuss that.

    -Jay

  2. Bobby Grow says:

    I think you all just need to read T. F. Torrance’s:

    The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons

    Then it will all become clear 😉 (I’ve been following the discussion between Perry and Steve).

  3. Steve,

    Correct, I reject divine simplicity in the Augustinian tradition whether its glossed via Aquinas or Scotus, which carry over to Reformed Scholastic glosses in the main.

    I think what Neo means to argue is something like the following. Not a reduction of all attributions to one, but since metaphysically they are the same, then the modality of volition will be the same as the divine existence. If so, regardless of whether one is a voluntarist taking moral value of objects or actions as extrinsic to them or a moral realist, the modality of the volitional activity will be the same and problematic.

    You are right that the answer will depend on how simplicity is explicated, and it is our contention that it depends on the way Helm and the Protestant tradition have so explicated it following Rome. Given that Protestantisms representative sources advocating either a Thomistic or Scotistic gloss, I don’t think Neo needs to find the gloss fully explicated in Helm since Helm means what Protestants have historically meant. If he doesn’t then, we’d need a reason for thinking that someone otherwise theologically conservative dissents from his tradition.
    To be fair, Calvin fails to give what we would like to see in terms of philosophical theology of a gloss on simplicity. This is for a number of reasons. Calvin does adopt the standard ways of expressing the Augustinian conception though and so there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think he dissents from the preceding scholastic tradition on that point.
    Granted that a lack of real distinctions in God doesn’t get you to voluntarism alone, it does get you to the idea that the modality of divine activity is the same as the modality of divine existence. Whether its more nominalistic or realistic seems irrelevant. So I’d suggest, that perhaps Neo was confusing voluntarism with the modal problem.
    If all things attributed to God are one thing, namely the divine essence, then it certainly seems as if what God wills is necessary in a way that conflicts with traditional orthodoxy. The modality will be applicable to all of the attributions equally. Moreover, it is by this underlying idea that Reformed arguments form foreknowledge to foreordination move since willing and knowing in God are the same.
    Given the above and given Calvin’s commitment to a kind of nominalism and his statements concerning the value of an act being extrinsic to it relative to the divine will, it seems reasonable to see Calvin as a sort of voluntarist. For myself, whether Calvin is a voluntarist or endorses moral realism is really only penultimately bothersome.

    “Here I am not asking how we must speak but of what in fact is the case. If they are the same thing then modal problems seem to appear rather quickly. If we retreat to talk of the necessity of the divine essence relative to itself as a terminus as distinguished from the “things on the way” to that terminus which are conditional we have made two useless mistakes. First, we have gone back to the way of speaking and not to the reality itself. Second, if the routes to the terminus are not the same act as the self subsisting act and are God, then we have compromised the proposed simplicity with two acts. If they are the same act, then the modal problem arises again with a necessary world and panentheism looms large.”

    You suggest that Calvin’s view on the divine will is highly qualified. What for example would you take one of the germane qualifications to be? Not that my experience is the standard, but he doesn’t make any qualifications that are grossly out of the ordinary in light of the preceding scholastic tradition, with all of the variety that the latter entailed. So I’d offer that we don’t think that qualifications won’t save the position.

    To view God either on a spectrum of being or as its terminus doesn’t need to draw a quantitative distinction. Scotus was quite happy to take it as qualitative in his doctrine of the univocity of being. God’s infinity of being is qualitative and not quantitative. And if existence has no precise understanding, certainly an every day understanding is not sufficient either in reference to God. Some specialized usage will be necessary one way or the other and this point is acknowledge among the Reformed.

    If I thought that something and nothing were the two ends of the spectrum that encompassed all possibilities, I might agree with you, but I don’t. Further, to appeal to God as “something” seems either to imply a kind of univocity of being or God as the terminus for something. “something” is not some general category to which God is subsumed as a member. God is not nothing, but God is not something either.

    The terminology in everyday usage isn’t meant to carry anything more than what you gloss, but certainly theologians, Reformed, Catholic, Lutheran or otherwise certainly think it does and is so deployed by them to that end. What we do in praxis is relevant to praxis, but not necessarily to metaphysics so your points about referring terms and generic reference apart from naming seem irrelevant to me.

  4. Fr. Maximus,
    I know that he has already translated the ‘Opuscula theologica et polemica’ of St. Maximus. Many years ago I recall, but never published the text as he didn’t trust anybody with it, for reasons that you are probably already familiar with. Hopefully, that text can get published through the seminary. And as good as GHD already is as is, he’ll need to eventually revisit it and make additions, corrections, and an editorial committee to review it that is as competent as he is. And then, maybe formal publishing with a traditional backing. My wish list. 😉 If and when, I trust that you folks will take good care of him.

    Photios

  5. Fr. Maximus says:

    Thank you for your prayers, Photios. They are much appreciated.

    The school is going to be long-distance, so I do not think it will take away much from his research into esoteric subjects. But I would like to see him start writing theological works again.

  6. MG says:

    Jay–

    You wrote:

    “I admit and see that much hangs together, but I am still not convinced of certain elements, such as Romans 9 being only by foreknowledge or a corporate-only election.”

    Where do you see individual unconditional election unto eternal salvation in Romans 9?

  7. I think if we explain that death has a very positive use and used by God this will be better understood. John Chrysostom says that death is put to good use by God because it curbs out the amount of evil that a person can no longer do.

  8. MG says:

    Blund—

    I guess I’m replying to your questions that were originally asked to some other people. Hopefully they won’t mind…

    You wrote:

    “To read Genesis 3 in “consequentialist” language doesn’t change anything because the consequences are enforced by God. With all respect, St. Palamas’ arguments does not seem to deal with the seriousness of God’s curse, and looks at the temporal aspect of the language for soft passivity rather than pronouncement of execution. I’ll see your Wisdom 1:13 and raise you a Deuteronomy 32:39.”

    First, consequentialist understandings of punishment do change things. The motivation for divine enforcement (upholding, energizing), of the natural order need not be retributive. God can be actively involved in upholding agents and objects, even as they sin or cause harm, without desiring to inflict retribution by means of this activity of upholding. He can do this without trying to increase the sin and harm done beyond what the agents (and objects) themselves choose (or are used for). God has reason to uphold the way the universe works, even when it works in ways that are unfortunate, and it need not be retributive motivation.

    Second, even granting that Deuteronomy 32:39 should be read as implying God literally actively kills people, why think that the punishment spoken of here is retributive in its intent? If we take a look at 32:43, it sure seems easy to see the motivation for punishment as restorative, corrective, and preventative. God executes justice to purify. We see the same kind of thing going on in Jeremiah, where God’s wrath is the divine word in the mouth of the prophet, which has a purifying or hardening effect on those that hear it (depending on their disposition).

    God being the author of death is different from God using death for his purposes. God can use the unwanted side-effects of our sins, and employ these things for good purposes. I see this going on frequently in Scripture; what I have trouble seeing is clear cases of God *retributively* punishing people by killing them.

    You wrote:

    “Secondly, I would like to humbly suggest that you are positing a false dichotomy between an ontological and forensic reading of the text. I would agree that there are priorities (and we may disagree as to which has the priority). Nevertheless, fornesic actions affect my ontology, and to not see both in Genesis 3 is, in my opinion, to drastically blunt the narrative.”

    I don’t see anything in the surface grammar or context of Genesis 3 that would favor there being a retributive element to the curse. The simplest interpretation that seems to read nothing into the text would take the curse as a natural consequence of sin. Its not that there’s a dichotomy going on here; rather, there’s a request for evidence that God is retributively imposing something on humans that is over and above the inevitable consequences of their actions.

    You wrote:

    “What is the relationship/connection to ‘R’ above and the “imputed glory” of John 17?”

    The glory of God is not imputed to Christ’s humanity; it indwells it. That’s what the disciples saw on Mt. Tabor—the uncreated glory of God shining forth from the flesh of Christ. Christ’s utilization of his human will in obedience secures the permanent indwelling of God’s glory and righteousness in the human will. This can be accessed by individual persons depending on their conformity to the way Christ employs his human natural will. See below about Maximus’ exegesis of Romans 5.

    You wrote:

    “Can you distinguish between Jesus fulfilling the Law in his person or his office? Did Jesus complete His work based on the divinity of His person, or by reliance on the Holy Spirit? Right now, the only humanity that has “fulfilled the Law” is an elevated humanity, shot through with divinity. My reading of Romans 8:4 leads me to conclude that fulfilling the law doesn’t require being shot through with divinity, but walking according to the Spirit. Thoughts?”

    What do you mean by “in his person or his office”?

    Jesus fulfilled the law because of both the fact of his being a divine person, and the indwelling of the Spirit in his humanity. The divine person was incapable of sin, and his humanity was enabled by the Spirit to accomplish our salvation. The divine person of the Son obeyed the Father by correctly using his spirit-empowered human will in synergy with the divine will.

    What does walking according to the Spirit mean? Does it mean the Spirit’s active presence and influence in a human being enables him or her to obey? That’s equivalent, for us, to saying “shot through with divinity”. I’d think the Reformed would view the Spirit’s indwelling as a communication of created grace to Christ’s human nature (ala Berkhoff)

    You wrote:

    “I apologize for my naivete, but could someone please elucidate what real mediation looks like in light of the opening posts proposition #2 (”either a divine person forensically became a human person or human persons forensically become divine persons”)? Perhaps it would be helpful to hear an Orthodox interpretation of Romans 5:19 as well?”

    No need to apologize, you certainly don’t seem naïve. Its not every day that one actually sees an Orthodox engagement with these texts. That’s something I’d like to correct, by making this information available.

    Here’s an Orthodox interpretation of Romans 5:
    http://wellofquestions.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/st-maximus-on-the-corruption-of-christs-humanity/

    In Maximus, the righteousness is ontological and forensic. But we understand law differently than the Reformed. For us, “being righteous” is a matter of actually sharing in the quality of justice. We do not think that a divine act of categorization (whereby Christians fall under a specific concept or label) is sufficient for something to be (or be reckoned) righteous. Justice is ontological; you might say its a moral harmony that a thing can have, when they fit into the world correctly. This comes in degrees. Notice that Maximus doesn’t explicitly mention righteousness in his text. That’s because he sees impassibility, incorruptibility and immortality as intrinsically related to justice. To have these things makes one just. Humanity’s telos is to live forever; so human nature can be “put to rights” if it went from being in a state where it would not live forever, to a state where it will live forever.

    In one sense, all human beings are constituted righteous in Christ. This is because human nature has been healed, and therefore put to rights. It will not be annihilated because of Christ’s incarnation, and it will be reconstituted in unity of body and soul because of his death and resurrection. Whether or not all particular persons will access the grace that has entered their humanity through Christ’s incarnate economy (and therefore experience personal salvation) is a different question, with a negative answer.

    Does this help at all?

  9. My goodness. I had a hunch it was you folks, but I wasn’t sure. Joseph told me a while back (a year ago maybe?) that a certain Old Calendarist group had contacted him to teach. And knowing Joseph’s traditional stance on dogma and his adversion to ecumenism and “dialogue” (i.e. we will talk with you until you agree with us), I encouraged him. Didn’t seem like he was ready to get back into teaching as he was enjoying his pursuits in esoteric topics. God willing I’m hoping it happens for him and I hope he continues writing on his other hobbies and interests as well (e.g. music, poetry, esotericism and physics).

    I will pray daily for your seminary and its staff.

  10. Fr. Maximus says:

    Photios,

    I have already told the good doctor what I think of his works. God willing, he will be teaching in our seminary when we open in January; and his works will be read in various classes.

  11. Thank you Fr. Maximus. Most of my views of that period come from Bishop Chysostomos of Etna (CA), so I am still learning more about the period in history, but it does seem that there is some genuine confusion during that time period.

    Also, I know for fact that JPF would be very happy to hear your comment and the fact that people are putting his works to good and proper use.

  12. Fr. Maximus says:

    Photios,

    I think the level of the captivity of Orthodox theology during the 17th-19th centuries can be exaggerated. The number of thelogical schools putting out western style works was small in comparison to the number of monasteries where the Fathers were being read in their proper context; i.e, the ascetic and spiritual life. And the regular people were affected by the monasteries, not the schools. Even on the level of theological treatise, someone like Eugenios Voulgaris explicitly makes the essence-energy distinction and castigates the Latins for not. In any case, it is important to remember that academic theologians, whether they are echoing the fathers or not, are in no way a necessary part of the Church.

  13. Fr. Maximus says:

    Jay,

    Don’t get hung up on errors in detail that you find in Romanides. He often expressed himself in a hyperbolic way (he’s Greek after all) in order to make a point. Romanides is a monumental figure because he was able to express clearly a number of very important points which distinguish Orthodoxy from the west, like his essay Empirical vs. Speculative Theology. Hence his great popularity. But I think if you want to connect more dots Farrell’s works are better: more subtle, balanced, and comprehensive.

  14. photios says:

    The usual folks I see quoting Dositheos, and I don’t mean to say that everything he said was wrong, are *usually* the same folks that I see enticed with Bulgakov and Sophiology. Even Ware was aware that Orthodoxy goes in captivity during that time, and starts to give Roman Catholic answers to theological questions. That is to say that the methods being employed are no longer Patristic.

    I would subtly argue that from the fall of Byzantium to the patristic movement inaugurated by Lossky, Florovsky, Romanides and others. The practice of Orthodox theology has been rather patchy and largely practiced in the monastery.

    The issue is not submission to authority, but the recognition of rival authorities. I submit myself to authority, but I do as Romanides suggests (who complained he couldn’t find ONE Orthodox theologian in Athens) in being careful who I select as a teacher.

    The folks who speaks for Orthodoxy are the same folks who have always spoken for Orthodoxy: those who confess right doctrine and practice.

  15. RiverC says:

    Blund: I think he means that mankind condemns themselves, needing no condemnation from God.

    Yours is one way to resolve the contradiction, but one which seems to cut away the paradox in favor of consistency.

    In essence, falling on the horns does resolve the issue.

  16. Jay Dyer says:

    Will do. I read Mystagogy and the others have been on my to-read list for a while.

    I recognize your position on Rome. I see problems with Dositheos, as I have seen many hail it as dogmatic for Eo, while you do not. I understand your criticism of its Latinization, but who really speaks for Eo here? I have read Guettee, but not Klaus Schatz. I’m not trying to start a debate–as you know I am honestly trying to work through the issues. That’s one reason I’m taking a break for a while — to get these works and read them.

    As you know, it’s not merely Rome, but the question of submitting one’s intellect because there may be facts yet unknown to the individual student. I mean simply the practical question of authority.

    I don’t think we would say its ungraced humanity, as if it lost all grace, but that when Adam and Eve are booted from the garden, “grace” as in divine life, was lost, while human nature remained in coorruption.

    I affirm with you the recapitulation, but we see the NT speak of people being under the devil outside of Christ (I’m not intending to be Manichaean – they retain free will), its just to distinguish the good works in accord with conscience as mentioned in Romans 2 in regards to pagans, from theosis. Those outside of the mystical body, though receiving grace from Christ via recapitulation, are still not participants in theosis until baptism — hence, exorcism prayers for infants before baptism in the Byzantine Rite.

    It is not that they are completely “ungraced,” but that they do not participate in theosis – divine life. I have understood this to be in many Eastern Fathers, including the Damascene, though I am not anywhere near well-read as you guys in St. Maximus.

    Thanks for your recommendations.

    -Jay

  17. photios says:

    You really need to read JPF first, and in this order: 1) The Mystagogia of the Holy Spirit, 2) Free Choice in Saint Maximus the Confessor, 3) The Disputation with Pyrrhus, and then, 4) God, History, and Dialectic.

    And then, go back and read Romanides. JPF knows how to talk to a Western christian better.

    Rome’s place is somewhat irrelevant if she confesses heresy, and her place as an Orthodox see becomes more relevant when she confesses the faith that she once defended.

    We don’t deny the distinction between nature and grace. We disagree with the idea of ‘pure nature’ in practicality or in theory. 1) Patristic theology doesn’t play “what if” questions, and 2) There is no such thing as an ungraced humanity, since *that* humanity is seen, understood, and contextualized only in reference to the Logos Incarnate, in which He is The Image of the Father that we are created. So the idea of ‘pure nature’ is not only false, but *impossible* from this stand-point. To think of an ungraced human, from our stand-point, we are no longer speaking of Adam and his line.

  18. Jay Dyer says:

    Yes, I like all that I have read from Florovsky so far.

  19. Jay Dyer says:

    I admit and see that much hangs together, but I am still not convinced of certain elements, such as Romans 9 being only by foreknowledge or a corporate-only election. I also don’t understand the denial of nature/grace, since its in Athanasius and Cyril. I’m not being a jerk or argumentative, I judt don’t yet see the follow through. Much of what Romanides says is still problematic for me, such as what I listed in Me Retraction of last year.

    I am also not conviced on the question of Rome’s place.

  20. photios says:

    I don’t know how you can argue as you do and disagree with Romanides. Besides JPF, Romanides is probably the most important Orthodox theologian of the past century and greater than his theological mentor Georges Florovsky.

  21. Jay Dyer says:

    Yes, I haved certainly moved much more in this direction, but am unconvinced of much of Romanides.

  22. photios says:

    John Romanides discusses this in Ancestral Sin with exegesis and what the earliest Fathers thought of the Fall. There just reading ‘Augustinism’ into the text. Gregory Palamas is on a lot better grounds exegetically.

  23. Lotar says:

    -If one were to interprete the fall in the Reformed way, then it would have been more appropriate for God to have said, “If you eat of this tree, I will kill you.” Such an interpretation does not make sense, in that a punishment is doled out to persons who did not take part in the sin. It is not to say that God does not punish, but rather that the sin of Adam had the consequence of affecting human nature. It is consequencial and natural, not punishment and personal.

    -Ontological.

  24. photios says:

    If God is the author of Death, then how is Death God’s enemy?

  25. blund says:

    @Lotar

    Hello! Thanks for explaining consequences again. I assumed that is what you all meant. But to have God merely warning humanity to not get burned doesn’t do full justice to the text. What kind of arrangement did God enter into with Adam anyway? Divine lifeguard? Omnipotent “caution” sign? I agree with you there is a distinction between a child getting burned and a child being punished, but as far as I know the Reformed have fairly uniformly sided with the latter understanding.

    Thanks for the words on Romans 5:19. Do you mind a few follow up questions? When you say human nature was “restored with the second [Adam],” I assume you are correlating that with “the many will be made righteous.” Is this restoration ontological, forensic, or both?

    @RiverC

    I assume you are referencing John 3:18. But as you have it, “already stood condemned,” who is the one enacting that passive verb? Who is already condemning? I don’t think the answer can be the Satan, because he wouldn’t condemn anyone for not believing on the Name of the Son of God. (Moreover, I think he functions more as Accuser of the Brethren, rather than a judge who can condemn.) The Law certainly doesn’t. So who is He who condemns?

    But I recognize the thrust of your argument. I want to stress that the Godman really is God. However, I think it is safe to say that Jesus is speaking here according to the purpose of the Father in sending Him the first time. Of course Christ does condemn the world in His Second Coming. But in His initial revelation, He is doing something new/different from God’s old economy (Isaiah 42:9; 43:19). So yes, as God, He has condemned all who are under the curse of the Law. But as the Christ, He was not (yet!) sent into the world to condemn it, but offer divine Life.

    What do you think, RiverC? Am I in the clear, or still on the horns of the dilemma?

  26. RiverC says:

    To read Genesis 3 in “consequentialist” language doesn’t change anything because the consequences are enforced by God. With all respect, St. Palamas’ arguments does not seem to deal with the seriousness of God’s curse, and looks at the temporal aspect of the language for soft passivity rather than pronouncement of execution. I’ll see your Wisdom 1:13 and raise you a Deuteronomy 32:39.

    Either Deism or the position implied by Blund make God into a liar, for Christ’s mouth is heard uttering: “I have not come into the world to condemn it, but it has already stood condemned…”

    According to this position he is being deceptive, since as God, he was the one that condemned it anyway.

    Is this not the case, Blund? Or is the Godman not really God?

  27. Lotar says:

    Blund,

    -By consequences we mean the effects that sin had upon our nature, not consequential punishment imposed upon our nature by God. As in the difference between a child being burned from touching a stove, versus a child being punished for touching a stove. There is an important distinction there.

    -If Christ’s righteousness is credited to us as personal righteousness, then it follows that Christ’s personal righteousness was either human because we are human, or that His righteousness was divine and that we then become forensically divine. Both options contain multiple heresies in their conclusions. It is a classic miscategorization of person and nature.

    Romans 5:19 speaks of human nature, which was fallen with the first Adam and restored with the second.

  28. blund says:

    NeoChal:
    To read Genesis 3 in “consequentialist” language doesn’t change anything because the consequences are enforced by God. With all respect, St. Palamas’ arguments does not seem to deal with the seriousness of God’s curse, and looks at the temporal aspect of the language for soft passivity rather than pronouncement of execution. I’ll see your Wisdom 1:13 and raise you a Deuteronomy 32:39.

    Secondly, I would like to humbly suggest that you are positing a false dichotomy between an ontological and forensic reading of the text. I would agree that there are priorities (and we may disagree as to which has the priority). Nevertheless, fornesic actions affect my ontology, and to not see both in Genesis 3 is, in my opinion, to drastically blunt the narrative.

    As to asymmetry, I apologize for not being clearer. I completely agree that there is symmetry between the reward (eschatological life) and punishment ((eschatological death); I only meant to highlight the asymmetry between the requirement and the reward. We may very well agree if I had been clearer. I also agree with you that moral standards are a creation of the divine will.

    Cyril: I will try to pull the Vos quote tomorrow, as I am away from my office and don’t have it with me. I am not denying that Vos was supra (though many Continental Dutch were infra, and the Canons of Dordt were decidedly influenced in this direction); rather, I am asserting the “real-ness” of Adam’s potential.

    Greetings Jay. You say:
    “Jesus’ “glory” He gives to us (John 17:3) is not what He “earned” as a human person from the Father, it’s what He always possessed as the divine Logos and natural Son of the Father.”

    What is the relationship/connection to ‘R’ above and the “imputed glory” of John 17?

    You say:
    “Jesus does fulfill the law, in terms of His human nature within time, but the graces and good works He does are the actions of the divine energies in Him, communicated to His humanity, which inter-penetrate and elevate it’s natural energies.”

    Can you distinguish between Jesus fulfilling the Law in his person or his office? Did Jesus complete His work based on the divinity of His person, or by reliance on the Holy Spirit? Right now, the only humanity that has “fulfilled the Law” is an elevated humanity, shot through with divinity. My reading of Romans 8:4 leads me to conclude that fulfilling the law doesn’t require being shot through with divinity, but walking according to the Spirit. Thoughts?

    ===

    I apologize for my naivete, but could someone please elucidate what real mediation looks like in light of the opening posts proposition #2 (“either a divine person forensically became a human person or human persons forensically become divine persons”)? Perhaps it would be helpful to hear an Orthodox interpretation of Romans 5:19 as well?

  29. steve hays says:

    Perry Robinson Says:

    “If simplicity and composition are taken to be opposites and to encompass all possibilities, then a rejection of one would entail an endorsement of the other. To the degree that a thing is unified it is simple and to the degree that it is not unified is the degree to which it is composite. We wish to pick out a notion of simplicity that doesn’t work this way by seprating off unity from simlicity so understood. A plurality is not opposed to unity, only if unity is understood as a complete lack of plurality and plurality entails composition. But we don’t think it does in either case. One of our reasons for thinking so is that in God, the plurality of persons does not compromise divine unity or amount to ‘parts’.”

    I take it from this answer that you don’t oppose divine simplicity, per se. Rather, you oppose certain models of divine simplicity.

    I also notice that your disagreement with the statement which Neo quoted from Helm (summarizing Calvin) seems to be a rather selective disagreement rather than a wholesale disagreement.

    “What Neo seems to be getting at is that to speak of different attributions or predications is a way of speaking for something that is otherwise unified in a way that excludes either all distinctions in itself or all distinctions except for those of a definitional or formal nature.”

    Neo seized on a particular statement by Helm. Does this objection follow from the actual wording of the statement he quoted? Does it even follow from Helm’s additional exposition, in the article I cited?

    “Either way via act there will be no difference in so far as the thing is in the things that are attributed. They are the same. If that is true to say that the divine nature is not reducible to any one attribution is true but somewhat misleading since the difference is in our way of speaking and not in the object. If God’s decisions and actions are not reducible to sheer will, then are will and intellect in God the same thing? Is the divine essence and the divine will the same thing?”

    i) The answer would depend, in part, one how divine simplicity is explicated. Neo seems to be attacking a very specific model of divine simplicity. But the passage he quoted lacks the specific features that you and he are objecting to.

    I have yet to see in the combox here an exposition of Calvin’s doctrine of divine simplicity which would give rise to these objections, and further underwrite the claim that Calvin was a voluntarist. What I see, rather, is a bare conclusion in which all of the key steps of the argument leading up to that conclusion are missing.

    ii) Even if, for the sake of argument, we stipulate the absence of “real” distinctions in the Godhead, that doesn’t get you to voluntarism. For that model of divine simplicity doesn’t select for one particular attribute as the defining attribute of the Godhead. Equating all the attributes is not the same thing as singling out one attribute in particular (e.g. the divine will) as the overriding principle. Divine simplicity doesn’t isolate one particular attribute, then subsume all other attributes to that one particular attribute. There’s no directionality to divine simplicity. It doesn’t privilege God’s will over God’s justice or God’s mercy or God’s omniscience or God’s omnipotence, &c. It doesn’t prioritize the will of God as the dominant principle.

    What’s actually going one here seems to be the use of “voluntarism” as a pretext or stalking horse to target the real quarry–which is a particular version of divine simplicity. And if you can connect the two, you can also transfer the odium of theological voluntarism to divine simplicity.

    “Here I am not asking how we must speak but of what in fact is the case. If they are the same thing then modal problems seem to appear rather quickly. If we retreat to talk of the necessity of the divine essence relative to itself as a terminus as distinguished from the “things on the way” to that terminus which are conditional we have made two useless mistakes. First, we have gone back to the way of speaking and not to the reality itself. Second, if the routes to the terminus are not the same act as the self subsisting act and are God, then we have compromised the proposed simplicity with two acts. If they are the same act, then the modal problem arises again with a necessary world and panentheism looms large.”

    Right now I’m not here to either defend or oppose Calvin. At this stage of the discussion an evaluation of his position would be quite premature. We can’t begin to properly evaluate a position until we accurately state what that position is. Thus far I haven’t see anything resembling a detailed exposition of Calvin’s position on voluntarism–much less his position on divine simplicity, even assuming the two are internally related.

    From what I’ve read, Calvin’s position on the divine will is highly qualified. In the discussion, thus far, I don’t see that any allowance has been made for his qualifications.

    “You ask if God exists a se. Well this would presuppose adherence to a notion of existence or rather being to which we do not subscribe. We do not take God to be self subsisting being. So we deny that God exists as se, but without the consequence your questions imply for they suppose that God fids his place somewhere on a spectrum of being or as either of its terminal points. On our view the entire spectrum, even with its ‘zero’ and maximal points are not applicable to God ad intra in the first place. This is what it means in part to say that God is beyond being.”

    That depends on whether you’re going to invest terms like “being” and “existence” with a very specialized conceptual meaning. In and of themselves, these are very generic terms.

    To say that God “exists” doesn’t range God along a continuum of existence, as if there are degrees of being, and God simply has more of that property than a creature. It’s not drawing a quantitative distinction–a difference or degree rather than kind.

    i) Rather, it’s a distinction between something and nothing. Entities or nonentities. Existents or nonexistents. Is there a God?

    ii) The terminology isn’t meant to carry much specific metaphysical baggage. In common discourse, a “being” often functions as nothing more a grammatical object or verbal placeholder–like any noun or pronoun. A referring term, like “something” or “someone.” We can’t talk about something without naming it. And there are times when we prefer the most generic terminology available to avoid prejudging the nature of the referent. Or because it isn’t relevant to what we want to say at that point to use a more specific descriptor.

    iii) We prefer to call God a “being” rather than a “thing,” someone rather than something, because “thing” language carries the connotation of an inanimate object.

  30. Jay Dyer says:

    Jesus does fulfill the law, in terms of His human nature within time, but the graces and good works He does are the actions of the divine energies in Him, communicated to His humanity, which inter-penetrate and elevate it’s natural energies. But even those natural energies of his humanity are the possession of the only person/subject there – the Logos.

  31. Jay Dyer says:

    blund: For Jesus to fulfill the Law as a “Divine person” (still uncomfortable with this, btw) is not special. The Law is for those who use it lawfully (I Tim 1:6), that is, creatures.”

    Jay: The only person/subject there is the divine person. A human subject meriting and working to earn perfection before God is Nestorianism. The Logos is the sole subject of all the actions of the God-man, according to the Bible and Cyrilline orthodoxy.

    Therefore, its impossible for there to be a created, time-bound human righteousness earned by a “human person” Jesus.

    Jesus’ “glory” He gives to us (John 17:3) is not what He “earned” as a human person from the Father, it’s what He always possessed as the divine Logos and natural Son of the Father.

  32. Steve,

    If simplicity and composition are taken to be opposites and to encompass all possibilities, then a rejection of one would entail an endorsement of the other. To the degree that a thing is unified it is simple and to the degree that it is not unified is the degree to which it is composite. We wish to pick out a notion of simplicity that doesn’t work this way by seprating off unity from simlicity so understood. A plurality is not opposed to unity, only if unity is understood as a complete lack of plurality and plurality entails composition. But we don’t think it does in either case.

    One of our reasons for thinking so is that in God, the plurality of persons does not compromise divine unity or amount to “parts.” The plural divine activities are activities of the persons using their essential power. The potentia as a second potentiality is antecedent to the activity but not to the persons who bring them to act.

    What Neo seems to be getting at is that to speak of different attributions or predications is a way of speaking for something that is otherwise unified in a way that excludes either all distinctions in itself or all distinctions except for those of a definitional or formal nature. Either way via act there will be no difference in so far as the thing is in the things that are attributed. They are the same. If that is true to say that the divine nature is not reducible to any one attribution is true but somewhat misleading since the difference is in our way of speaking and not in the object. If God’s decisions and actions are not reducible to sheer will, then are will and intellect in God the same thing? Is the divine essence and the divine will the same thing?

    Here I am not asking how we must speak but of what in fact is the case. If they are the same thing then modal problems seem to appear rather quickly. If we retreat to talk of the necessity of the divine essence relative to itself as a terminus as distinguished from the “things on the way” to that terminus which are conditional we have made two useless mistakes. First, we have gone back to the way of speaking and not to the reality itself. Second, if the routes to the terminus are not the same act as the self subsisting act and are God, then we have compromised the proposed simplicity with two acts. If they are the same act, then the modal problem arises again with a necessary world and panentheism looms large.

    You ask if God exists a se. Well this would presuppose adherence to a notion of existence or rather being to which we do not subscribe. We do not take God to be self subsisting being. So we deny that God exists as se, but without the consequence your questions imply for they suppose that God fids his place somewhere on a spectrum of being or as either of its terminal points. On our view the entire spectrum, even with its “zero” and maximal points are not applicable to God ad intra in the first place. This is what it means in part to say that God is beyond being.

  33. steve hays says:

    NeoChalcedonian Says:

    I’m not disputing what you’re claiming; I asked a question: “What basis does Calvin have for rejecting voluntarism?”

    ********************************

    Since, on his view, the divine nature is not reducible to any one attribute, God’s decisions and actions are not reducible to a sheer will.

  34. steve hays says:

    Neo,

    You quote, and take exception to, the following statement:

    [As to that link to Paul Helm (like the blog name), Pr. Helm writes “Second, Calvin adheres to the doctrine of divine simplicity, according to which God’s nature does not consist of parts which compose it. (Inst. I.13.2) No parts are antecedent to God himself. He exists a se, independently and in an absolutely underived sense. So his will is ‘bound’ to his nature, for it is, strictly speaking, not a separate ‘part’ of it. God necessarily acts in accordance with it.”]

    In your opinion, what, exactly, is wrong with this statement? Do you think that God’s nature does consist of “parts”? Is God a composite being? Do you think that in God’s nature, one part is antecedent to God himself? Do you think that God’s existence is derivative? Do you deny that God exists a se? Do you think that God’s will is a separate part of his nature?

    What, precisely, is there in this formulation of divine simplicity that’s mistaken?

  35. Cyril says:

    Steve,

    First off, sorry I misread what you had typed (read over the upper cases).

    Next, Calvin “framed” his arguments against and in accordance with a whole host of thinkers and ideas, so that his expansions from one edition of the Institutiones to the next can often include more than one principle in any argument: e.g. look at the incorporation of Blandrata’s thought into those sections in which he is treating the thought of Servetus, an incorporation that Calvin does not overtly state he is making, but is clearly there. To make Paris the only referent of an argument does Calvin an injustice. Aside from all of this, you missed the proviso I made “on this count” (a qualification I made in two of my posts). I don’t know if Calvin was a voluntarist, for he contradicts himself in discussing the distinction between poetentia absoluta and potentia ordinata: at several places affirming (in his Exodus, Romans, and Psalms commentaries, and as well in the Institutiones , and if you wish the Latin I shall post it toute suite), another denying the distinction (ICR III.23.2, though the first part of that section severely qualifies- – as Seeberg, Cole and Wendel have pointed out – – what is affirmed in that latter part). What I was pointing out was that on the merits of Christ he was clearly a Scotist, for he is lifting this in II.17.1 almost verbatim from Duns Scotus’s commentary on Lombard’s Sentences (Commentaria liber III distinctiones XIX notitia iv, v, vi, vii). This, again, so I shall write slowly so you can understand, simply speaks to what I was saying: Calvin was contradictory in his thought. It clearly changed over time, and in particular after his relations and readings of Vermigli (NB: look at the alterations in Calvin’s predestinarianism from pre to post Martyr, let alone his Eucharistic thought, though this may have been more the press of circumstances following Muhlberg). But on the merit of Christ, irrespective of what faculty has priority in the Divine Being, Calvin followed Duns Scotus.

    All I am saying is not new, Thomas Stapleton, the English Jesuit, had already alluded to many of these things in his post 1566 lectures and writings while at Louvain: his chief target Calvin and his pedisequum . His Latin in his Antidota evanglica and Antidota apostolica is clear and precise and should cause you no trouble when you look it all up. Stapleton had already taken this up even before he left Antwerp in his dealings with Jewel et al, so some of it is in English.

    As to that link to Paul Helm (like the blog name), Pr. Helm writes “Second, Calvin adheres to the doctrine of divine simplicity, according to which God’s nature does not consist of parts which compose it. (Inst. I.13.2) No parts are antecedent to God himself. He exists a se, independently and in an absolutely underived sense. So his will is ‘bound’ to his nature, for it is, strictly speaking, not a separate ‘part’ of it. God necessarily acts in accordance with it.”

    Since God is simple, we can just as easily say that his intellect or nature is bound to his will, for if nature is anterior to will, then God is not simple. This is all part of what I was saying about contradictions within Calvin, and it would be best to realize that before Calvin ever took up theology (something he never did as a discipline), he was trained as a lawyer at Orleans under l’Estoile, and then Bourges under Alciato, i.e., he was a humanist first, a theologian, if you will second. For me Calvin pales next to Martyr: trained in Theology and Scholasticism, an expert of the syllogism, and a man who unlike Calvin, knew Hebrew. Calvin is an excellent writer, his Latinity is among the best of the Renaissance writers (it doesn’t rival Peterarch’s, Pietro Bembo’s, or Castiglione’s, but I have preferred it to Pico’s and even in many places Erasmus’s), and his commentaries worth a read, but all I am saying here is that the coherence of his system fails: if it were so clear, why all the arguments among the Reformed about what it was? If anything, I am in agreement with Richard Muller that the sources of Calvin’s thought, and thus (if we follow Aristotle about to know a thing is to know its cause) the real substance of what he thought here, is lost to us.

    And so Steve, please spare me: I would expect such patronizing of the current plague of political demagogues who have no bolts to fire, but not someone interested in serious discussion.

    Neo,

    Excellent post! Keep at it.

  36. Steve,

    I’m not disputing what you’re claiming; I asked a question: “What basis does Calvin have for rejecting voluntarism?

  37. steve hays says:

    Cyril Says:

    “Calvin’s use (dare we say, “isolated quote mongering”) of St. Augustine leaves no room for quibbling about isolated passages, let alone his Scotist proclivities on this count.”

    You’re disregarding the fact, if you’re even aware of it, that Calvin frame’s his discussion of God’s will in opposition to the Sorbonnists–who really were voluntarists.

    Finally, here’s another analysis of Calvin’s alleged voluntarism:

    http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2008/02/will-of-calvins-god-can-god-be-trusted.html

  38. steve hays says:

    NeoChalcedonian Says:
    May 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm
    Steve,

    In the essay you linked to, it states:

    “God’s power and essence and will and justice are the same…”

    If so, then what basis does Calvin have for rejecting voluntarism?

    ******************************************************************

    The sentence you lifted out of the essay doesn’t reduce God’s choices a sheer will, not does it? Rather, his will is also characterized by his justice–and other attributes. That’s not the same thing as voluntarism.

    And divine simplicity is not the same thing as voluntarism. Divine simplicity doesn’t boil everything down to God’s sheer will.

    If you want to take issue with divine simplicity, you’re welcome to do so, but that’s distinct from the issue of voluntarism.

  39. steve hays says:

    Cyril Says:

    “I had Paul Helm’s Calvin and the Calvinists some years ago and either gave it to my brother or deposited it with the library of the PCA church I then attended. I don’t remember anything that remarkable about the text. Not to say there isn’t, I just don’t remember.”

    I wouldn’t expect you to remember since that isn’t the book I referenced. To repeat, I mentioned Helm’s book on Calvin’s Ideas. That’s the title. Try again.

  40. I was just recently exposed to your blog. I love it! We have a lot of the same contentions.

    Read this if your interested: http://theophilogue.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/what-martin-luther-really-said-luthers-sola-fide/

    Bradley

  41. Cyril says:

    Steve,

    I had Paul Helm’s Calvin and the Calvinists some years ago and either gave it to my brother or deposited it with the library of the PCA church I then attended. I don’t remember anything that remarkable about the text. Not to say there isn’t, I just don’t remember. I shall try to look at it again. As for “isolated quote mongering” you can look at the whole passage in II.17. Calvin’s use (dare we say, “isolated quote mongering”) of St. Augustine leaves no room for quibbling about isolated passages, let alone his Scotist proclivities on this count.

  42. Kenny says:

    I think there is a confusion here: divine command theory does not imply Cartesian voluntarism (i.e. the creation of eternal truths). One can accept that eternal necessary truths are eternally in the divine understanding (logically prior to the divine will) and deny that moral truths are among the eternal necessary truths.

    The question about divine command theory is the one that is relevant here. The more general voluntarism is not. I don’t know Calvin that well, but I was under the impression that he did accept divine command theory. I just wanted to point out that he could still consistently reject voluntarism.

  43. Steve,

    In the essay you linked to, it states:

    “God’s power and essence and will and justice are the same…”

    If so, then what basis does Calvin have for rejecting voluntarism? Are not God’s powers of foreknowledge, predestination, creation, goodness and justice all identical to the divine essence and to each other? If so, it makes *equal sense* to say that moral necessity is *created by* God as it does to say that it is *eternally inseparable* from God’s immutable nature. You can infer anything from a contradiction.

  44. steve hays says:

    Cyril Says:
    May 22, 2009 at 2:11 pm
    Calvinism may eschew voluntarism, but Calvin’s theology itself is riddled with contradictions on this very count: essentially his humanist Stoicism fighting with the patrimony of Platonism and Aristotelianism which sits at best in tenuous equipoise in his works. As NeoChal has already here indicated, the Divine Will is antecedent and anterior in and to all things. With regard to the discussion of this thread, I think there is an even more telling passage in Book II.

    ************************

    There’s a reason I referred you to Helm’s detailed analysis. Isolated quote-mining is deceptive. If you can’t bring yourself to read Helm, here’s another discussion of the same issue:

    http://philofreligion.homestead.com/files/Calvin_Distinction_FD.htm

  45. Karen says:

    Jim, it seems to me that your comment is where the Orthodox rubber meets the road, so to speak (and the Reformed rubber doesn’t quite). This blog is devoted to talking about Orthodox vs. various other theologies in the abstract. Although this has its place and a certain limited usefulness, it is not what the Fathers of the Church have called theology. Real theology is what happens when one encounters the Spirit of Christ in prayer–for most of us, if not all, we often don’t enter that kind of prayer until confronted with certain of the realities of life that bring us to the end of ourselves and expose our delusions, as you seem to have discovered. What the writers of this blog are attempting to show is that Orthodox words about Christ (and the spiritual life) are the only ones that are appropriate to the fullness of the reality you have encountered in your life and don’t somehow throw an obstacle in the way of our seeing it correctly when we encounter it. At least this is how I understand it. May the Lord have mercy on you and your family members in your current circumstance.

  46. Cyril says:

    Calvinism may eschew voluntarism, but Calvin’s theology itself is riddled with contradictions on this very count: essentially his humanist Stoicism fighting with the patrimony of Platonism and Aristotelianism which sits at best in tenuous equipoise in his works. As NeoChal has already here indicated, the Divine Will is antecedent and anterior in and to all things. With regard to the discussion of this thread, I think there is an even more telling passage in Book II.

    Calvin, Institutes II.17.1.

    Therefore when we treat of the merit of Christ, we do not place the beginning in him, but we ascend to the ordination of God as the primary cause, because of his mere good pleasure he appointed a Mediator to purchase salvation for us. Hence the merit of Christ is inconsiderately opposed to the mercy of God. It is a well known rule, that principal and accessory are not incompatible, and therefore there is nothing to prevent the justification of man from being the gratuitous result of the mere mercy of God, and, at the same time, to prevent the merit of Christ from intervening in subordination to this mercy. The free favor of God is as fitly opposed to our works as is the obedience of Christ, both in their order: for Christ could not merit anything save by the good pleasure of God, but only inasmuch as he was destined to appease the wrath of God by his sacrifice, and wipe away our transgressions by his obedience: in one word, since the merit of Christ depends entirely on the grace of God, (which provided this mode of salvation for us,) the latter is no less appropriately opposed to all righteousness of men than is the former.

  47. “Foolish men raise many grounds of quarrel with God, as if they held him subject to their accusations. First, they ask why God is offended with his creatures who have not provoked him by any previous offense; for to devote to destruction whomsoever he pleases, more resembles the caprice of a tyrant than the legal sentence of a judge; and, therefore, there is reason to expostulate with God, if at his mere pleasure men are, without any desert of their own, predestinated to eternal death. If at any time thoughts of this kind come into the minds of the pious, they will be sufficiently armed to repress them, by considering how sinful it is to insist on knowing the causes of the divine will, since it is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists. For if his will has any cause, there must be something antecedent to it, and to which it is annexed; this it were impious to imagine. The will of God is the supreme rule of righteousness, so that everything which he wills must be held to be righteous by the mere fact of his willing it. Therefore, when it is asked why the Lord did so, we must answer, Because he pleased. But if you proceed farther to ask why he pleased, you ask for something greater and more sublime than the will of God, and nothing such can be found.” […]

    4. They again object, Were not men predestinated by the ordination of God to that corruption which is now held forth as the cause of condemnation? If so, when they perish in their corruptions they do nothing else than suffer punishment for that calamity, into which, by the predestination of God, Adam fell, and dragged all his posterity headlong with him. Is not he, therefore, unjust in thus cruelly mocking his creatures? I admit that by the will of God all the sons of Adam fell into that state of wretchedness in which they are now involved; and this is just what I said at the first, that we must always return to the mere pleasure of the divine will, the cause of which is hidden in himself. But it does not forthwith follow that God lies open to this charge. For we will answer with Paul in these words, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” (Rom. 9:20, 21). They will deny that the justice of God is thus truly defended, and will allege that we seek an evasion, such as those are wont to employ who have no good excuse. For what more seems to be said here than just that the power of God is such as cannot be hindered, so that he can do whatsoever he pleases? But it is far otherwise. For what stronger reason can be given than when we are ordered to reflect who God is? How could he who is the Judge of the world commit any unrighteousness? If it properly belongs to the nature of God to do judgment, he must naturally love justice and abhor injustice. Wherefore, the Apostle did not, as if he had been caught in a difficulty, have recourse to evasion; he only intimated that the procedure of divine justice is too high to be scanned by human measure, or comprehended by the feebleness of human intellect. […]

    6. Impiety starts another objection, which, however, seeks not so much to criminate God as to excuse the sinner; though he who is condemned by God as a sinner cannot ultimately be acquitted without impugning the judge. This, then is the scoffing language which profane tongues employ. Why should God blame men for things the necessity of which he has imposed by his own predestination? What could they do? Could they struggle with his decrees? It were in vain for them to do it, since they could not possibly succeed. It is not just, therefore, to punish them for things the principal cause of which is in the predestination of God. Here I will abstain from a defense to which ecclesiastical writers usually recur, that there is nothing in the prescience of God to prevent him from regarding; man as a sinner, since the evils which he foresees are man’s, not his. This would not stop the caviler, who would still insist that God might, if he had pleased, have prevented the evils which he foresaw, and not having done so, must with determinate counsel have created man for the very purpose of so acting on the earth. But if by the providence of God man was created on the condition of afterwards doing whatever he does, then that which he cannot escape, and which he is constrained by the will of God to do, cannot be charged upon him as a crime. Let us, therefore, see what is the proper method of solving the difficulty. […]

    7. They deny that it is ever said in distinct terms, God decreed that Adam should perish by his revolt. As if the same God, who is declared in Scripture to do whatsoever he pleases, could have made the noblest of his creatures without any special purpose. They say that, in accordance with free-will, he was to be the architect of his own fortune, that God had decreed nothing but to treat him according to his desert. If this frigid fiction is received, where will be the omnipotence of God, by which, according to his secret counsel on which every thing depends, he rules over all? But whether they will allow it or not, predestination is manifest in Adam’s posterity. It was not owing to nature that they all lost salvation by the fault of one parent. Why should they refuse to admit with regard to one man that which against their will they admit with regard to the whole human race? Why should they in caviling lose their labour? Scripture proclaims that all were, in the person of one, made liable to eternal death. As this cannot be ascribed to nature, it is plain that it is owing to the wonderful counsel of God. It is very absurd in these worthy defenders of the justice of God to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. I again ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy unless that it so seemed meet to God? Here the most loquacious tongues must be dumb. The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknow what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. Should any one here inveigh against the prescience of God, he does it rashly and unadvisedly. For why, pray, should it be made a charge against the heavenly Judge, that he was not ignorant of what was to happen? Thus, if there is any just or plausible complaint, it must be directed against predestination. Nor ought it to seem absurd when I say, that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it. For as it belongs to his wisdom to foreknow all future events, so it belongs to his power to rule and govern them by his hand.(John Calvin, Institutes, Book III, 23, 2, 4, 6-7)

  48. steve hays says:

    A couple of quick points:

    1. Yes, Vos was a supra. He makes that plain in his review of Bavinck’s systematic theology.

    2. Calvinism typically rejects voluntarism. See Helm’s discussion in Calvin’s Ideas.

  49. Cyril says:

    Jay,

    Yes. Spot on. Hodge was not anything if not a mime of the WC standards. To him this is what theology looked like. One has but to read his lamentable exchanges with John Nevin (all housed at the Princeton Sem library), in which he threw Calvin under the Trolley, to see how much the WCF was his one prism. Hodge came to realize that the Reformation was not what he had thought. This is all the substance of a great host of questions now being argued about in Reformation studies, questions often being raised and assertions frequently made by people who are interlopers into the discipline. Even without them, the shape of the question of Reformation thought is at best a tangled forest, especially as regards the Reformed (Zwingli, Calvin, Bullinger, Bucer, Vermigli, Zanchius, Oecolampadius, but to name of few). Some of these were adamant in their embrace of Aristotle, others reactionary against him; some of the reactionaries would still scruple to use the four causes in the commentaries. It happens to be, lamentably, where I am at the moment as regards my discipline, though it has its benes in that most people reading the Reformed have not a clue what the Greeks say, and have near no introduction to Patristic studies.

    Blund,

    I will have to order Horton. There has been some work on this of late in the scholarly (and not so) literature, seeing in Calvin and Luther doctrines of deification and theosis. This is all special pleading, as a number of people have pointed out. Hooker may be different, but even he does not approximate what the Fathers meant by it (Hooker believed that there was an inherent righteousness in the Christian).

    As for Vos, could you be so kind as to point me to the pertinent discussion in his PE (my copy of BT is at my office, though if it is online and if you have the page #s I can look at them there)? What he says in the PE seeming augurs against your assertion, particularly in his arguing that Paul’s use of the designation Pneumatikon, when he applied it to the order of resurrection, that it must be seen as chronologically posterior to pseuxikon. He then makes the point in a footnote that Paul here affirms the opposite of the notion (drawn from Philo) of an ideal man whose existence precedes and informs Adam’s. Paul’s categories, writes Vos, are Hebraic and not Hellenic. He makes reference to Romans 5:14, but he never draws from the text that which the Orthodox do. If you could point me to the specific pages that would be grand. This would seem the perfect place to assert that “not Plan B” theology, but I can’t find it.

    You are right that for Vos (but I don’t know any Reformed who would deny this), that something happens to our bodies at the resurrection analogous to what happened to Christ at His. This is certainly a divine act, but not one, at least on my read of Vos, predicated on our image being that of the Incarnate Logos, but one in which we enter the age to come by the power of the Spirit. I may be over-reading a distinction without a difference in his thought, but the resurrection for Vos is clearly not from our sharing a deified human nature with Christ, but instead being enlivened by the Holy Spirit. Indeed his whole discussion about capitalizing Pneumatikon would seem to push that conclusion. Have I misread GV?

    Again, I will look at Horton, but admitting that both he and Vos affirm as you say, they are still the minority report among the Reformed. Further, while he won’t be the first Dutchman who is not a supralapsarian, I had always been under the impression that he was. Perhaps my memory is conflating my reading of him with my reading of Warfield (this is now some 20 years ago).

    I am happy to be taught better, and thanks for your responses.

    Cyril

  50. Blund,

    Your exegesis of the Genesis texts seems to both affirm and deny Reformed theological presuppositions. First, why can’t God’s claim that “On the day you eat of it, you will surely die” and “The man who does these shall live by them” be read in *consequentialist* and *ontological* terms rather than in metaphysically empty forensic terms, in which God and man are separate and relate not by sharing being/life but through conformity to external laws?

    “Man’s transgression against the Creator’s righteousness brought the soul’s death sentence into effect; for when our forefathers forsook God and chose to do their own will, He abandoned them, not subjecting them to constraint. And for the reasons we have stated above, God lovingly forewarned them of this sentence. But he forbore and delayed in executing the sentence of death upon the body; and while He pronounced it, He relegated its fruition to the future in the abyss of His wisdom and the superabundance of His love for man. He did not say to Adam: ‘return to whence thou wast taken,’ but ‘earth thou art, and unto earth thou shalt return’ (Gen. 3:19). Those who hear this with understanding can also comprehend from these words that God ‘did not make death’ (Wisdom 1:13), either the soul’s or the body’s. For when He first gave the command, He did not say: ‘in whatsoever day ye shall eat of it, die!,’ but ‘In whatsoever day ye shall eat of it, ye shall surely die’ (Gen. 2:17). Nor did He afterwards say: ‘return now unto earth,’ but “Thou shalt return’ (Gen. 3:19), in his manner forewarning, justly permitting and not obstructing what should come to pass.” [St. Gregory Palamas Physical Theological Moral and Practical Chapters 51 (PG 1157-1160).]

    Secondly, how could the rewards/punishments that God attaches to *anything* be “asymmetric to the task” if all pre-existing moral universals/standards upon which to evaluate such things are wholly arbitrary constructions or creations of the divine will rather than eternal *objects* of the divine understanding *upon which* God acts? I believe how these specific questions are answered constitute the very foundations of the Reformed conceptual scheme.

  51. blund says:

    Gentlemen,

    Oops! I thought I had subscribed to the comments, and I was wondering why this post was so quiet. I apologize that it seemed like I had dumped and dashed.

    I briefly scanned the comments, but I may have missed some things. On whether an Arian Christ, it is true that on the point of righteousness, the Reformed think that all that is required of humanity is creaturely righteousness. WCF 19.1 (mentioned above, thanks!) notes that Adam was promised real life upon obedience. The opposite of “On the day you eat of it, you will surely die” is “The man who does these shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). When God “condescended” to Adam to enter into a pact/covenant with him, God promised Adam a reward that was asymmetric to the task.

    This does not make Christ a “Plan B,” however. Geerhardus Vos (see Biblical Theology or Pauline Eschatology) notes that the Incarnation of the Son is necessary even had Adam obeyed, since (a la I Corinthians 15) the Second Adam is not just a living soul, but a Lifegiving Spirit. Even after creaturely righteousness, there is a divine translation required. For more on these ideas, see Michael Horton’s “The Weight of Glory: Justification and Theosis” in Covenant and Salvation.

    I would also like to add that the Reformed have typically seen the Law as generating in the character of God. (See especially English Puritan John Owen on this.) For Jesus to fulfill the Law as a “Divine person” (still uncomfortable with this, btw) is not special. The Law is for those who use it lawfully (I Tim 1:6), that is, creatures.

    May I submit for your consideration, gentlemen, that part of this lies in a deeper debate. The Reformed are suspicious that for the East, salvation ultimately means losing a part of our creaturely-ness. But will I ever get past being a glorified human in the eschaton?

    @Photios
    Yes, nowhere does Romans 5 mention inherited guilt. But it does presuppose inherited/imputed death.

    @Jay
    Good point about the energies of the Church. Also, when you say, “Christ does not transfer to us some created effect, but the very divine energies He possess as the divine Son;” see the Horton essay above.

    Finally, I would just add, that imputation carries a very important place in Reformed soteriology, but so does union with Christ. I think many of the fears here might be calmed if this doctrine is remembered alongside imputation?

    Thanks for letting me jump back in. If my comments slow down discussion, feel free to ignore them!

  52. Jay Dyer says:

    Cyril,

    I think the problem, though, is that both of the those theologians, and Hodge especially, see the perfection rooted not in His own divinity, but in the fact that He is the second Adam, who merits perfect righteousness throughout His life.

    For example, the Westminster Confession says concerning the so-called “covenant of works”:

    “II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works,[2] wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity,[3] upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.[4]”

    And concerning Christ’s keeping of it:

    “IV. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake;[22] which that He might discharge, He was made under the law,[23] and did perfectly fulfil it;[24] endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,[25] and most painful sufferings in His body;[26] was crucified, and died,[27] was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.[28] On the third day He arose from the dead,[29] with the same body in which He suffered,[30] with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father,[31] making intercession,[32] and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.[33]

    V. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father;[34] and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.[35]”

    There doesn’t appear to be any communicating of “righteousness” by virtue of His divinty, but rather it appears to explicitly be a humanly-earned legal status, and this is what is transferred to us in justification.

  53. photios says:

    Jay,
    There is an ambiguity here. What do the Father’s think we are condemned *to* by Adam’s sin?

    I think we need to review back over the text between Maximos and Pyrrhus on virtues. Are virtues natural things? Back to the Ordo Theologiae, that’s how we solve this.

    Photios

  54. Cyril says:

    Interesting and wonderful posts to say the least.

    The Reformed see Adam as possessing an original, natural, albeit creaturely, righteousness, and thus his keeping of the law would have been sufficient for his posterity to obtain union with God (whatever union with God would have looked like in this scenario). Thus, the active obedience of Christ for the Reformed, in that it completed what Adam failed to do, was formally human as a cause of our salvation (and it would not have to be materially divine either), whereas the passive obedience was both divine and human, for it involved the voluntary death of the Incarnate Logos. Any Reformed reading of II Corinthians 5:21 will bring this out: Calvin: “”In the first place, the righteousness of God is taken here to denote not that which is given us by God, but that which is approved by him.” Calvin in the Institutes asserts that God accepts the Incarnate Son’s obedience not because of anything meritorious in the Son’s life (Calvin is a good Scotist, here, or a bad one, depending), but merely because He (the Father) wished to accept it. If you want the Latin for these I can provide them. If we look at Charles Hodge it is less stark, but still there: “The only sense in which we are made the righteousness of God is that we are regarded and treated as righteous in Christ, and, therefore, the sense in which he was made sin is consistent with his being free from sin in himself; and our being made righteous is consistent with our being ungodly in ourselves.” Perhaps another post could take up the unnecessity of the Incarnation in Reformed Theology had Adam never fallen. I think this as much as anything points to the arbitrary and fictive nature the forensic relationship creates between the Christian and the Logos.

    Cyril

  55. Jay Dyer says:

    Agreed it doesn’t say personal guilt, but it does say condemnation. St. Cyril does speak much stronger than Kalomiros. Doesn’t Paul’s argumentation seem to be that death comes upon all, even those who haven’t “sinned in the likeness of” Adam?

    Also, aren’t the “many” only those who experience theosis, while all are recapitulated in His humanity?

  56. photios says:

    Ah, okay gotcha. I tend to look at Romans 5 of course Recapitulationally. Christ the Second Adam does over again certain aspects to the Fall and does this according to his humanity (in which I am consubstantial).

  57. Kenny says:

    I should note that I actually think Romans 5:12 is probably the best Scriptural evidence against original guilt.

  58. Kenny says:

    I didn’t say that Romans 5 says we are imputed guilt. Romans 5 draws a parallel between Adam and Christ such that IF you believe in an imputation of guilt you probably ought to believe in a parallel imputation of righteousness. Because of the figurative language of the passage, you probably could get a disanalogy between the two cases to work without actually contradicting it, but as a matter of actual historical fact, I think that this parallel has been pretty influential in the west.

  59. photios says:

    Romans 5 doesn’t say we are imputed guilt. No where.

  60. Kenny says:

    I recommend the paper “The Metaphysics of Original Sin” by Michael Rea. Apparently it is soon to appear in a volume entitled Persons: Human and Divine. Anyway, it examines the (mostly implicit) metaphysical commitments of the doctrine of original guilt, especially as explained by Augustine, Aquinas, and Jonathan Edwards. If I recall correctly (it was quite a while ago that I read it), only Aquinas ends up imputing guilt to human nature.

    The Edwards view, true to form, comes out with virtually no metaphysical commitments: because Adam was our ‘federal head’, when he became an enemy of God we all became enemies of God. This is supposed to be analogous to the way that all Americans (allegedly) came to be in a state of hostility with the Hussein regime just in virtue of W declaring such a state and performing acts of hostility, on account of his being our ‘federal head.’

    The sense in which Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us should be parallel to the sense in which Adam’s guilt is imputed, per Romans 5.

    It’s unsurprising if the Reformed view makes certain important points to be “matters of completely arbitrary divine volition, not any pre-existing moral universals” since divine command theory is popular in Reformed circles. I agree with you that this is a problem for the view, and if it turned out that the Reformed understanding of imputation required a divine command theory, that would be an interesting result, but it probably wouldn’t succeed as an “internal” critique.

  61. 1. Adam sins and incurs guilt. (Personal)
    2. All humans inherit guilt from conception. (Nature/Person?)
    3. Christ comes & is declared a righteous MAN. (Personal)
    4. Christ’s HUMAN righteousness is imputed to predestined believers. (Nature/Person?)

    2 & 4 are a matter of completely arbitrary divine volition, not any pre-existing moral universals.

  62. All,

    Does the life of perfect obedience humans owe God belong to them as created persons or to human nature in general? Inherited guilt from Adam would seem to imply the latter; it is by perfect obedience as man that Christ eliminates the deficit attached to our human nature and exchanges it for his. A pre-existing person/nature confusion supplies the context of the doctrine.

  63. Kenny,

    I appreciate the interaction and thought-filled comments. Indeed, my problem with the Reformed view is that “our salvation does not depend in any special way on Christ’s divinity” as Christ’s human righteousness *comes into being* and *is imputed to me* as belonging to a human person or as the fulfillment of creaturely obedience, resulting in a soteriological Arianism. The point of (2) & (3) is that the Incarnation is God rewarding God as a created agent and dispensing those merits to others as from a created rather than a divine subject. Christ being God is absolutely accidental to the origin and substance of the gift. The only way to rectify this problem is to introduce Nestorianism by asserting that the righteousness we receive from Christ comes into being and belongs exclusively to his humanity while at the same time proper to him as a Divine Person rather than a human person; this is because the “righteousness of God” that is needed for salvation has been emptied of all ontic content and redefined as extrinsic moral credit possessing no clear relationship to Christ’s being a divine person.

  64. Jim says:

    As one who has subscribed to passive righteousness being the cornerstone of the gospel, I’ve been forced to examine what kind of spirituality that this propositional faith produces.

    When faced with a family crisis which has brought me to my knees, the truth I’ve had to face is that imputed righteousness doesn’t have much to offer in the dark night.

    As this post suggests, there are some serious cracks, and when real pain and suffering comes, there’s not anything left to stand on.

  65. RiverC says:

    Kenny, I got rolling there. I think I meant (on the last paragraph) the judgments of God; But I think in general if we have the theology wrong we eventually run into a kind of brutal existence where things that cannot be other than bad are called not just necessary but good.

    The imputed righteousness seems to lean this way, if it is indeed a ‘legal fiction.’ The notion of God calling good that which is not actually so.

    Either that, or we weren’t unrighteous at all, and the law itself is meaningless…

    I may, however, be taking things in the way they were never meant to be taken.

  66. Jay Dyer says:

    Blund: @Jay Dyer
    May I humbly suggest a category confusion in your first comment? The Church is created, but it saves us. Only God can save us, amen. But I suggest you haven’t gone far enough yet.”

    Jay: No, its not because the Church’s role in saving us is only on the basis of it being an extension of the Incarnation. The only reason the Body of Christ and His Body the Church save us, is because they are suffused with the divine energies, which are not created. Jesus told us He would give us His glory (John 17), and that glory is not a creature. It comes to us through created means, such as sacraments, but the grace is not created.

  67. Jay Dyer says:

    The more I think about this, the more devastating I think it is, in so many facets. What is a corporate person? This is the kind of weird, mental gymnastics reformed theology must resort to.

  68. Corporate person? I guess I see this as just another big wrong turn in law as being affected by medieval Trinitarian theology and its confusion between person and nature (i.e. the filioque). Is the Holy Spirit the ‘corporate person’ of the Trinity since his name as ‘holy’ and ‘spirit’ are attributes of the two other persons?

    Photios

  69. Kenny says:

    RiverC – I’m not sure I understand the last part of your comment, but I agree with your overall judgment that the Reformed doctrine on justification/atonement/imputation is not incorrect as such but is incomplete in problematic ways.

  70. RiverC says:

    Hmm, but to me it seems incomplete. Almost as though something was not understood, and therefore possibilities were disclosed in favor of a more consistent reading.

    It also seems to ultimately ‘justify’ not man, but individual men to be unrighteous. I.e, it excuses unrighteousness as though unrighteousness were only before the law. That would mean all God would really have to do is just revoke his law to make things better. That makes him kind of arbitrary in the sense that we really don’t know why he would impose X or Y on us, and we have no way of really understanding it by reason.

    This doesn’t stack up well against a lot of the Fathers, or even Paul, who while they admit his judgments are past searching out, if God is the Logos, his judgments are not inscrutable because they are more or less random and because God is God therefore they are good, but because they are deep, beyond time, and transcending categories that we presently comprehend.

    The first view relies more on assertion than the second, since the first admits that they could be ultimately bad for us, but because God is God it is goodness, but the second declares that because God is God they must ultimately be existentially verifiable or we’re insane.

    Which is part of the reason I think Calvin’s Geneva was so brutal.

  71. Kenny says:

    RiverC – I, at least, don’t think you are off-track.

    Of course, there are at least two crucial reasons Christ must be divine on the Reformed view: first, because of the total depravity of human beings, they could never have any righteousness to offer to God. So only a human being who was somehow free from Original Sin could play this role, not just anyone. But why not an Arian Christ? That would do, wouldn’t it? Even an angel could perhaps become incarnate without Original Sin and save humanity. So this won’t quite do it: it gets that Christ must be fully man but not merely man, but it doesn’t require him to be fully divine.

    The second reason would have to do with Christ’s role as mediator. It seems that in order to be an effective mediator – i.e. in order to hash out this deal whereby Christ’s sacrifice is accepted on our behalf – Christ must be on both sides of the conflict, the side of God and the side of man. I’m not sure exactly why this is a strict requirement (rather than simply something that is helpful, as is the case in ordinary cases of mediation), but it seems to be in both the NT and the Reformers, doesn’t it?

    On forensic persons – don’t forget that a corporation is a ‘forensic’ (or, more commonly, legal) person, despite not being a natural/metaphysical person at all. In order to know whether any of this is plausible as an interpretation of the NT, you would have to examine legal personhood in Roman law, and in order to know if it was plausible as an interpretation of the Reformers, you would have to examine 16th century European law, but surely it is a concept we can make sense of today. Perhaps the Church, with Christ as its head, is the legal person to whom the righteous acts are imputed, and they are thereby indirectly imputed to its members. On this view, Christ would be like an officer of a corporation acting in his official capacity, and his actions would thereby be actions of the corporation. This probably isn’t too far from the classical Reformed view, since it looks rather similar to federal headship. Of course, in practice most Protestants take a much more individualistic reading. (Which, let me note, I think is unfortunate.)

  72. RiverC says:

    So in other words, if it is merely the human acts which constitute righteousness, and that righteousness is imputed onto us (in a ‘legal fiction’) and this saves us, then to be the Christ only incidentally requires Divinity; they’re saying that it took a Divine person to fulfill this, not because there is any real communion or connection with the human and divine, but because the acts themselves were too difficult for a human alone.

    If I’m right, it is a self-consistent doctrine, not actually horribly flawed in and of itself, except that it is exceedingly shallow and incomplete. (Or that is, rather, what I’m seeing.)

    It indicates that we are indeed saved by a creature or rather COULD be, except that it so happens that the activities required were too difficult for anyone but a divine person. This makes the righteousness essentially creaturely, correct?

    Therefore what is really going on is we’re talking about an entirely different economy, sort of a ‘sub’ economy of the Orthodox (or even Roman Catholic?) one.

    Other thoughts:

    A ‘forensic person’ seems like at best a subset of ‘person’ since ‘person’ is not ‘metaphysical’ strictly, but refers to properties (free will, uniqueness, relation) that have more than a metaphysical scope?

    Forensic person would then seem to be a role, which person is not. I.e. being two forensic ‘persons’ – like ‘the A.G.’ and ‘John’ does not actually make me two persons, but I take on two ‘personal’ roles in view of the law? Whereas, no matter how many ‘personalities’ I obtain through the use of illicit drugs, I still remain a unitary person?

    Also, isn’t ‘Christ’ both a role or title, and also a proper name in the sense that ‘The Christ’ like ‘That Prophet’ is a different title than simply ‘christ/savior’ or ‘prophet’?

    Maybe I’m offtrack here.

  73. Kenny says:

    So, one and the same person is identified by the terms Logos, Jesus, and Christ/Messiah. The first two are proper names (one of which we use to emphasize the divine nature and the other to emphasize the human), but the last is (or at least was initially) a title. So perhaps this is a better candidate for an ‘office’. Whatever the case, I don’t think it is even necessary to identify a particular role/office to make the Reformed doctrine consistent with the unity of Christ’s person: all we have to do is point out that it is possible for Christ to be two judicial/forensic persons while being one metaphysical person. Now, one objection to this will be that it makes our salvation depend on a ‘legal fiction’! But perhaps (at least some of) the Reformers would be willing to accept that… It does at least make it clear that our salvation is utterly gratuitous!

    Based on your second paragraph, I think I misunderstood your initial argument. It now sounds as if the problem is supposed to be that, on the Reformed view, our salvation does not depend in any special way on Christ’s divinity (or at least it does not depend on Christ’s divinity in the way it should). Is this what you mean to be getting at? This seems to me to be a point worth reflecting on. The Reformed can probably escape from it, but perhaps not in a fully satisfying way. From the way you phrased your argument, I had initially thought that the problem was supposed to be that the Reformed doctrine entailed a form of Nestorianism.

    So, part of my ‘general point’ was supposed to be that your argument does not seem to be internal to the Reformed position, because you are reading the Reformed doctrine in a metaphysically deep way. However, re-reading the argument in light of your most recent comments, I think perhaps I was wrong about that and you don’t require a deep metaphysical reading of righteousness for your point to go through.

  74. Craig says:

    Hi,
    Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that James White who seems to patrol the web looking for challenges to reformed theology has stayed silent on this and related issues. Surely he’s aware since Turrettinfan posted replies on White’s website.
    Just curious.
    Craig

  75. Kenny,

    The role/person distinction and some of its implications I hope to have clarified in my reply to Blund. I have not seen how Christ being a divine person was necessary or even relevant to the acquisition of moral credit for perfect obedience to the commandment to love God and neighbor fully.

    My argument is that the moral credit imputed to believers from Christ is a creaturely legal standing acquired by actions performed according to his creaturely nature without any particular reference to his status as a divine person. Is this correct?

    Your general point I think is absolutely on target in whole and in part. I’m attempting to perform not an external but rather an internal critique.

  76. Kenny says:

    Just addressing places one might try to escape the argument, without necessarily endorsing any of them:

    (1) Building on what Blund said, it is possible for someone who is metaphysically one person to be forensically two persons. For instance, suing Eric Holder and suing the Attorney General of the United States are in some sense two different things. (and a judicial system could conceivably distinguish them much more strongly than we in fact do)

    (2) Your premise (2) is confusing. It assumes some kind of distinction between human and divine forensic subjects, and assumes that no one act could be attributed to both a human forensic subject and a divine forensic subject. Why is this supposed to be? The matter is further confused by the fact that the one who literally performed the actions is both human and divine.

    (3) The specific acts of righteousness with which the doctrine in question are concerned are acts which Christ performed according to his humanity (kata ten anthropoteta), since they are specifically the acts he performed in his earthly life. Of course they are predicable of the one subject who is both human and divine. I’m not sure what effect this has on your argument, exactly, but it seems relevant.

    A more general point: I always thought that one of the main objections the Orthodox had to Reformed doctrine on this point was that the Reformed picture is metaphysically deflationary, as opposed to the Patristic doctrine of theosis and ontological regeneration. The doctrine of imputation relies entirely on claims about justice. But your argument here seems to rely on a non-deflationary reading, that is taken to have a lot of metaphysical baggage. Since the concerns on the Reformed view are forensic/judicial, they seem to be in a position to simply reject all of the alleged metaphysical implications. They can simply say that for some reason -a reason to be found entirely in principles of justice – we are justly treated as if we had performed all and only the acts Christ in fact performed. I think the real position is a little more complicated than this, but isn’t this the basic outline?

  77. Blund,

    [I have not replied to your objection to (2) as I did not understand it.]

    I want my argument to be attacked mercilessly so thanks for firing the first shot. I made the distinction between Christ’s earthly life and other divine actions for the purpose of argument and don’t know in what relevant sense I “split” them up.

    I cannot see how there could be a confusion of person and substance because I merely point out that Christ is the one subject of actions proper to two distinct natures.

    I agree that one person can fill multiple offices or “roles,” but I deny that human personhood and divine personhood are such things. If the category of person is not something absolutely distinct from or above what is predicable *of* the persons, then the category of person has been collapsed into that of activity. In short, I deny that “being a father” and “being (insert your name)” are the same or denote the same category.

    Point (3) might be mistaken, but it cannot beg the particular question you suggest it does because it explicitly states the relation of Christ’s person to the Law He fulfills. To the person of Christ and predestined benefactors is accredited perfect human obedience for having lived a perfect life.

  78. Jay Dyer says:

    Christ does not transfer to us some created effect, but the very divine energies He possess as the divine Son. No creature can save us.

  79. blund,

    The Church is created and yet she saves us through her union with Christ. Christ has deified flesh and through the Church, Christ deifies us. Because the Church is deified, because she has “become one flesh” with Christ, she offers us the body and blood of Christ. By being united to it, we too become His flesh, His body, His bride, His Church.

    This is very simply the intention of St. Paul who calls the Church both the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. The terms are roughly synonymous. This is what it means to “put on” Christ and to be “in” Christ.

  80. blund says:

    May I hop into the discussion? Here’s a brief response to the above:

    It is a false dichotomy to split R & D according to what the Son does in His Incarnation.

    (1) & (2) Per the Definition of Chalcedon, how is this not a confusion of person and substance?

    (1) Cannot one subject person act according to different offices? Can a policeman act towards his wife in two opposite ways, one according to his vocation and the other according to his vows? Why the division of persons and not offices?

    (2) Christ completely fulfills the curse of the Law. To fulfill the curse of the Law requires an infinite act. Human subjects are incapable of infinite acts. Therefore, the statement “imputed to human persons as having performed R” is untenable and cannot follow.

    May I please re-iterate that “through the Incarnation … a divine person forensically became a human person” seems to me to be non-sensical in light of Chalcedon and Nicaea?

    (3) I would like to suggest that this begs the question between Christ’s relationship to the Law as Lord or Servant.

    Thus, I currently find the argument unworkable, but I’m willing to be taught.

    @Jay Dyer
    May I humbly suggest a category confusion in your first comment? The Church is created, but it saves us. Only God can save us, amen. But I suggest you haven’t gone far enough yet.

    Thanks!

  81. Jay Dyer says:

    Perry:

    “This merit it should be noted is earned by Christ. It is not the righteousness Christ has by virtue of being the divine person he is. The relation qua righteousness or rather the material relation between Christ and the sinner is therefore contingent. It may be an eternally planned for righteousness or justice, but it is not an eternal righteousness. In this sense this merited righteousness is a created grace and as such it is appropriate to human nature that was created intrinsically righteous or with natural grace. The righteousness on the schema of Sola Fide then that is applied forensically or taxonomically to me is a created intermediary between me and God. That in sum is the doctrine. And that doctrine is taken by Protestantism to be the Gospel so that if one rejects that idea, one is rejecting the Gospel.”

  82. Jay Dyer says:

    Amen. They are both “created” realities.

  83. If the *moral credit* proper to a perfectly obedient creature and that I receive from Christ are identical, then why aren’t they?

  84. Jay Dyer says:

    And, this “righteousness” time-bound and increases, therefore it is created. A creature cannot save us, only God.

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