Can the Divine touch the guilty human?

A while back I had a discussion with several fellows over whether Christ’s active obedience was a helpful or even theologically coherent category.   Ultimately I argued that Christ’s active obedience, where his human nature “earns” merit and grace according to the law, does us no good as Christians.    For I pointed out that Christ’s righteousness that he earns per his human nature is only a created grace.   It accrued from nothing during time and space.  Presumably it is transferred to our account.

Besides the rigidly medieval Roman Catholic categories this argument assumes, I pointed out that we are not saved by created grace, but by the divine energies–the uncreated grace.

We went back and forth on some specifics regarding if it were really created or not.  The details need not trouble us here.   One fellow, a man and former seminary classmate whom I respect greatly, and is quite knowledgeable on the ins and outs of Reformed theology, said that we have to assume the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and God’s forensic declaration of us as “not guilty,” for how can God have fellowship with sin?

I was impressed by his argument, and still find the internal logic of it somewhat compelling.   I reflected on it, though, and realized that it proves way too much.

Christ took the same human nature that we have.   Hhow then could the divine have any kind of *communion* with it.  Yes, Christ was without sin, but this human nature had suffered the effects of sin.  This human nature, too, would have stood in need of healing.   Under the above logic, Christ could not have assumed a human nature (sound familiar?).

We say that Christ united the human nature to himself and healed it–Christ is the site of transformation.

However, even on some Calvinist readings (e.g., Peter Leithart), if all of the benefits of the New Covenant are subsumed under union with Christ, then imputation is redundant.

One comment on “Can the Divine touch the guilty human?

  1. What an interesting discussion. I wish I were not so isolated from such a company as you enjoy.

    The rhetorical question of your Reformed friend, “How can God have fellowship with sin?” is suspect to me for the reason that I imagine it must have been in the minds of the opponents of Jesus whenever they beheld him in the company of persons judged by them to be sinners (in his conversation, mingling, healing, dining, etc. with those outside the covenant)

    I myself reject the philosophy and theology of ‘imputed’ righteousness, but I see hints in the NT for a type of ‘imputation’ of human sin upon Jesus (even while he remained sinless). His opponents would see him as a sinner simply by assoiation with many he came in contact with.

    So that in the process of offering salvation to sinners, Jesus becomes sin in the eyes of the old Law.

    Thanks again for the post – and the blog, an occasion for reflection this afternoon.

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