Monday, June 21, 2010

Preachers and Morality continued . . . again

To read the previous two posts and comments side by side in additional windows, click on these links: Preachers and Morality and Preachers and Morality continued . . . .

Dear Nick,

It is good that you recognize the importance of the subject. Because you impress me as one who is sincere, I am responding to you as one who is sincere.

At first I struggled to know your perspective and why you are pursuing this fallacious argument. I did not at first grasp why you pressed upon me the argument against “alien righteousness” when I did not use this terminology. I think I understand the reason now. For the concept of alien righteousness permeates the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, and therefore it permeates my theology, whether or not I use the terms themselves. You are, in fact, attacking and denying the chief article of Christian faith, the article of salvation by grace through faith, through your attempt to discredit alien righteousness, which is clearly articulated throughout the Scriptures as the righteousness of God that supplants our unrighteousness through the faith that the Holy Spirit works through the power of the Gospel.

You have attempted to use one word, logizomai, and a partial definition and use of the word as set forth by a skewed lexicon, to avoid the doctrine of God’s righteousness that is from outside of ourselves, imputed to us through faith worked by the Holy Spirit, as that which justifies, sanctifies, enlightens, saves and preserves those whom God saves. The lexicon that you have chosen claims to use Thayer’s and the large Kittel for its sources. Yet the final statement is not in either, at least not that I found. Neither is it in BAGD. All three of these recognized resources demonstrate a much broader usage of the word, logizomai, than that final statement that you quoted.

You mention 40 occurrences of the word in the Scriptures. But you ignore the context, especially of the ones that you do not quote. One passage is enough to demonstrate the fallacy of your argument.

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (Romans 5:13-14)

You have argued:

The lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

In Romans 5:13-14 St. Paul uses logizomai to teach that the imputation of sin is not made where the Law is not residing or being. Thus the imputation is taught as not being dependent upon the sinful act, but upon the gift of the Law which imputes the sin to us so that we may be brought to recognize our need for the righteousness of God that is from beyond our grasp or doing. According to our own imputation, according to our own logizomai, we do not account for our sin and our unrighteousness, our total corruption that makes sinners of us even from our conception, as Psalm 51 clearly teaches.

Thus, in Romans 5 St. Paul uses logizomai exactly the way that you say that it is not used.

But the larger point is that it is entirely fallacious to rule out by means of one word what the Scriptures plainly teach. That is why at first I did not deal fully with the word, logizomai, but rather gave other Scriptures that teach what you deny.

In my original post I directed the attention to the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, in accord with St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2. I also referred to preaching “Christ our righteousness.”

The following are passages of the Scriptures that teach this:

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:6)

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

The Lord hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God. (Jeremiah 51:10)

O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. (Daniel 9:16-19)

You argue:

So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22).

But St. Paul does not say that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Here is what St. Paul writes:

     And being fully persuaded, because what He has promised He powerful is also to make, through which also was credited to him into righteousness.

“Being fully persuaded” = plerophoretheis, which is an aorist, passive, participle. For this discussion the points of emphasis are that it is aorist, or past tense, and especially that it is passive, meaning that it was worked on him from beyond, that is, his conviction or persuasion or belief was alien to him. It was worked by God, who gave the promise and with the promise also made the faith or persuasion, which overpowered Abraham’s unbelief, so that God’s action was credited to Abraham into righteousness. This also is critical to right understanding. St. Paul does not actually say “as righteousness” but “into righteousness.” This is the same manner as with Baptism, especially as St. Paul refers to it in Titus 3.

Additionally, the following Scriptural passages highlight the fact that the righteousness which is credited to us is God’s righteousness (with emphasis added to certain pertinent portions):

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
(Romans 3:1-28)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 5:1-21)

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(Romans 10:1-10)

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:27-31)

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
(Galatians 2:15-21)

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:11)

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11)

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
(2 Peter 1:1-4)

The Old Adam rises up in indignation against this doctrine. Our sinful nature despises the acceptance of the teaching that we are truly “dead in sins” and must be “quickened together with Christ” and that we are truly “saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” and that we are truly and entirely from beginning to end in every aspect “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2) Our sinful nature despises the notion that all that we are in Christ Jesus, all that is holy, all that is righteous, is God’s work and nothing that we logizomai as our own. That the good works that are manifested in our lives are God’s works, prepared beforehand, and that we merely walk in His good works being worked in us and for us, this is truly alien to our sinful and corrupted reason. But for all of our resistance to it, this is the way of grace, and grace is from God alone. When the Holy Spirit convicts us fully, as He did with Abraham, then we live confident of God’s power and mercy and love, and we live without the burdens that we and sin would place upon us. When we logizomai in accord with how God logizomais, then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding does indeed guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

1 comment:

Nick said...

Hi again,

I am thankful that there are people out there who are willing to discuss this, even if some of the points can be uncomfortable to some.

Here are my thoughts on your most recent response:

(1) You said: "You have attempted to use one word, logizomai, and a partial definition and use of the word as set forth by a skewed lexicon"

First of all, I am not intentionally misusing any lexicon, nor am I trying to skew any information. (Not that you're accusing me of such). Second of all, I might be focusing on "one word, logizomai," but that is a very critical word. It's the foundation from which the very concept of "impute" arises. If that word didn't exist, there would be no Romans 4:3, no "faith was *credited* as righteousness".

(2) You said: "You mention 40 occurrences of the word in the Scriptures. But you ignore the context, especially of the ones that you do not quote."

Please show where I ignored context, especially in the passages I *did* quote, otherwise that's not fair to accuse me of this.

(3) You said: "One passage is enough to demonstrate the fallacy of your argument. [Romans 5:13-14]"

I've looked into this passage in the past, but the fact is it doesn't use the term "logizomai" but *another* term. Further, the phrase "sin is not imputed when there is no law" fits my general claim: if there is no law, then one cannot be charged. For example, if Noah failed to keep the Sabbath as Jews did, he would not be charged with sin because the Mosaic Law didn't exist at the time so there was nothing violated. Noah cannot have sin imputed to his account if there is no law he's violating.

(4) You said: "St. Paul does not say that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness."

I would disagree with that, for that is precisely what the "it" is referring to. Further, 4:5 and 4:9 explicitly say "Abraham's faith".

I agree with other points you made in your article, but I'd say the above are the main points that I see going against the Biblical evidence (which I'm open to correction).