The Gospel as “Outside”

Good news (or Gospel)–Isaiah 52:6-7–is always from “the outside.” It is extra nos.  By definition, any announcement of good news must come from outside ourselves.   This is radically at odds with any soteriology that views salvation as hinging on an interior-principle.  If my problem with reality is ontological, then what is the point of a good news announcement?  In that case, I don’t need anything from the outside.   I need an interior renovation to help me overcome the perpetual slide into non-being.

Announcement as Theosis

All reality is infused with language.  Language mediates everything.   We do not need “substance-altering” models of soteriology in order to avoid nominalism.  The very nature of speech itself demonstrates this.   Sound echoes in vibrations in the air.  These are real.  God speaks and creation happens.   That is real.   Why is it less real when God speaks “not guilty” in our justification?

God speaks and it echoes throughout both soul and body.  Call this the beginning of theosis, if you will.

A Primer on Study Bible Polemics

This is in response to a comparison between the Orthodox Study Bible and the Geneva Bible.

In regard to the claim that justification is an ongoing process.

Point 1:  If we are justified (aorist) then how is it an ongoing state?  At best that is vague language.   The aorist tense suggests a completed action, not an ongoing one.  It seems the OSB is conflating “salvation” with “justification,” but Protestants do not hold that. The study bible says,

Faith is more than the conviction that something is true

This is classic Reformed 101.   Reformed define faith in a 3-fold way.  This is further evidence that for all of the irenicism, Orthodox simply do not bother to understand what Reformed teach.

Stated:  In its reaction to medieval Roman Catholicism Protestantism became allergic to the role of good works in salvation.

This is ironic since the Puritans are usually accused of being legalists.  We simply deny that works are the instrumental and efficient causes in our salvation.  How hard is that to understand?

About tradition:  Quick question:   give empirical verification that the traditions you have today are the same as the apostles’.  Do not employ the fallacy of asserting the consequent.

About the real presence:  essentially the Protestants are wrong because they are ambivalent on the real presence.  Maybe so, but that’s not an argument that it is logically true.  Also ironic is that the Scriptures suddenly become clear, objective, and literal when proving a pet doctrine.  But I come back to a question:  Is the divine nature present in the Eucharist?  Presumably the OSB will say yes.  Can the divine nature exist outside of a hypostasis, whether that of Father, Son or Spirit?   The OSB will have to say no because of the doctrine of enhypostasis.  This means logically that the hypostasis of Jesus is present.   But this becomes problematic when multiple Eucharists are being celebrated at the same time, for then we will have multiple hypostases of Jesus!  Nestorius didn’t even teach this!

Then there are the usual calls tha tProtestants need to own up to their own traditions.   Have these people not heard of the presuppositional school?   Of course Protestants know that.  We also know that our understanding isn’t infallible.

Justification by faith *how?*

Many cavail against the Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone, noting how it (superficially) seems to be against James’s words.   Admittedly, this is a tough point for Genesio-Lutherans to answer, but if we understand the causal models (instrumental, efficient, final, etc) correctly, there is no problem.   We believe that works function as a subalternate final cause in justification, and in that sense we are in complete agreement with James 2.   The synergist, by contrast, has a much more difficult position in dealing with Paul’s claims.  James Buchanan relates Melancthon’s words, “If the exclusive term, only, is disliked, let them erase the Apostle’s corresponding terms, freely, and without works” (Buchanan, 129).

Initial precis on Justification

A Catholic friend of mine keeps quoting James 2 as if that refutes the doctrine of justification by faith alone.   Hopefully all sound readers of Scripture realize that a single verse doesn’t “refute” any one system.   To be consistent, he would have to admit that Jesus’ words “let no man call you Father” refute the Romanist idea of the priesthood (not to mention Christ saying the greatest of you will be the servant, and then contrasting that with the fact that the Pope is an absolute monarch and legal political head of state).  If they will not grant those counter-examples as destructive of their system, neither will I grant that a single verse refutes sola fide.

  • It’s ground:  the ground of justification is Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
  • It’s instrument:  the instrument is faith.

Even though Romans 3 doesn’t say “alone” we can properly reason that it is there.   Take Romans 3:24ff:  “Justified freely by his grace.”  How many works are included in the word “freely?”

Semantic domain:  the word dikaoo, in contrast with the Latin justificare, denotes a declaration (see the LXX translation of Leviticus 25:1).  The Latin word, by contrast, necessarily denotes a “making righteous.”  The Latin (and Romanist) reading is necessarily flawedIf we take justificare and insert it in the passage in Leviticus, it is sheer legal nonsense.