Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Active and Passive Obedience of Jesus Christ
...clothed with His perfect righteousness

"That which we plead is, that the Lord Christ fulfilled the whole law for us; he did not only undergo the penalty of it due unto our sins, but also yielded that perfect obedience which it did require. And herein I shall not immix myself in the debate of the distinction between the active and passive obedience of Christ; for he exercised the highest active obedience in his suffering, when he offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit. And all his obedience, considering his person, was mixed with suffering, as a part of his exinanition and humiliation; whence it is said, that "though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered."

And however doing and suffering are in various categories of things, yet Scripture testimonies are not to be regulated by philosophical artifices and terms. And it must needs be said, that the sufferings of Christ, as they were purely penal, are imperfectly called his passive righteousness; for all righteousness is either in habit or in action, whereof suffering is neither; nor is any man righteous, or so esteemed, from what he suffers. Neither do sufferings give satisfaction unto the commands of the law, which require only obedience. And hence it will unavoidably follow, that we have need of more than the mere sufferings of Christ, whereby we may be justified before God, if so be that any righteousness be required thereunto; but the whole of what I intend is, that Christ's fulfilling of the law, in obedience unto its commands, is no less imputed unto us for our justification than his undergoing the penalty of it is."
-John Owen

This past week I was posting on a reformed baptist forum discussing the impeccability and peccability of Christ, when a member of the faculty from a well known evangelical seminary (a seminary that I respect) posted a brief comment claiming: "Now of course, I don't hold to what I think is a contrived concept of active/passive obedience. Christ lived a righteous life which demonstrated to the world and generations His fitfulness to be the perfect sacrifice on the cross. His righteous life does not atone for sin, only His death does that, and His righteous life credits nothing to my "account" as a believer. I think covenant theology reads way too much into the First Adam Second Adam parallel on this point." (It should be noted: the President of this particular seminary does not affirm this doctrinal aberrancy).

Did you hear that beloved? I was stunned, shocked and surprised that someone at a seminary level would assert that Christ's righteous life credits nothing to my "account" as a believer. There is no salvation without His righteousness being imputed to us in justification. And that righteousness is not a phantom righteousness, but that which results from His active and passive obedience in fulfilling the Law of God; and His once for all sacrifice on the cross as a propitiation for the sins of the people.

A few additional thoughts: First of all, Christ is never referred to as the Second Adam; only as the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). Secondly, The active/passive obedience of Jesus Christ is not a contrived concept--it is essential to our justification which is the gospel. Thirdly, that he thinks the sinless righteous life lived by our Lord Jesus Christ in fulfilling the Law "credits nothing" in regards to our salvation in justification as a believer is severe doctrinal error. (FYI: I offered complete this brother complete access to my blogs and website in order to address this crucial issue in a discussion/debate format for further engagement. He graciously declined due to current scheduling demands and commitments to unfinished projects.)

Q - How could a man of his theological learning and education drift into such obvious error on an essential truth on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ? As you can imagine, several questions arose from him posting this theological error : i.e., then what is the righteousness that is imputed to all who believe in the Lord if not the righteous life of Christ? What then did the Lord actually accomplish in fulfilling the Law and all righteousness in His sinless life lived in regards to justification? What does he think is the relationship between the First Adam and the Last Adam? etc.

As a Reformed Baptist, I affirm on this blog, the biblically rich 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith which says:

Chapter 11: Of Justification
1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God. (Romans 3:24; Romans 8:30; Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Romans 5:17 ) (emphasis mine)

2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. (Romans 3:28; Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26 )

3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. (Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Isaiah 53:5, 6; Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:26; Ephesians 1:6,7; Ephesians 2:7 )
Could it be any more clear?

To help address this important issue, I discovered a very thorough and powerful treasure, written by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, that answered these and many more important questions about the active and passive obedience in Christ. (Also, I would encourage you to listen to Dr. S. Lewis Johnson's excellent series on Imputation as well). This is a very important issue beloved. With the much anticipated significant conference next month, "Together for the Gospel"; the unfortunate and dangerous inroads being made into evangelicalism by those who affirm The New Perspective of Paul; Open Theism; and Brian McLaren's postmodern Emergent Heterodoxy; and the skewed aberrant views the seminary faculty member above asserted who has strayed from historic orthodox biblical Christianity; we must now, not assume anything anymore about what anyone teaches due to church, seminary, or Para-church affiliation. WE MUST ALL be faithful Bereans (Acts 17:11), everyone of us, and ask the tough, essential, critical, and necessary questions of anyone who claims to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel (1 Thess. 5:21-22). We must not play politics with God due to political alignment and personal relationships within evangelicalism. The stakes are too high beloved; for what we are talking about here is the integrity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Take your time reading this following article and the rich truths it contains. May it encourage you to stand firm in the Lord, retaining the standard of sound words, contending for the once for all delivered to the saints faith. I highly commend it to you all. Make sure you visit Dr. McMahon's website as well A Puritan's Mind. It is excellent with many valuable resources for your reading and biblical encouragement.

Grace and peace to you,
Steve Camp
2 Cor. 5:21

The Active and Passive Obedience of Jesus Christ
By Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

The following article explains the doctrine of imputation of the active and
passive righteousness of Jesus Christ. This article was first submitted to the
Whitefield Theological Journal, in which its first publication is soon to be released.

With the rise of the heresy of the Federal Vision, New Perspectives on Paul, and the Auburn Avenue Theology, there stands a continued need for reproclaiming the truth of historic Christianity. Contrary to modern liberal theologians who are continually trying to appeal to the masses with new fangled theological ideas, such a reproclamation of orthodox theology is in accord with both the Gospel, and the Westminster Confession of Faith, and needs no revision, updating or change. Reformed Theology does not need to be modernized; it simply needs to be understood.

Reformed Theologians have generally made a distinction between what is called the obedentia activa and obedentia passiva of Jesus Christ. These two components of the obedentia Christi are fundamental to understanding the foundational doctrine of the iustitia imputata of Christ.[1] The two accompany each other at every point in the Savior’s life.[2] Romans 10:4 declares, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Christ is the “termination” or te,loj of the law for all who believe (by faith) that His obedience forensically justifies them eternally.

The obedentia activa and obedentia passiva of Jesus Christ summarizes the iustitia Dei used throughout the Scriptures. This phrase relates to the reflection of God’s character as seen in the perfect obedience to the commandments, or lex moralis. Justification is a summation of the legal declaration of God toward the sinner – the actus forensis – counting the believer righteous (through imputation) rather than making him righteous (misconstruing justification and sanctification).[3] The iustitia imputata of Christ is completed upon God’s judicial declaration. At its heart “declarative justification” involves the iustitia alienum et extra nos (the alien righteousness not of the sinner but from Christ) imputed to the believer through faith by grace (Eph. 2:8-10).

This obedentia Christi fulfills the covenant breaking of the Law that the first Adam failed to uphold. Karlberg says, “Where the first Adam failed as a covenant breaker, the second Adam succeeded in perfectly fulfilling the demands of the covenant by his active and passive obedience.”[4] This does not liberate Christians from keeping the law – in terms of sanctification and holiness – but does release them from having to keep the law perfectly to satisfy divine justice and procure their own salvation (the first use of the law). Bahnsen states correctly, “Christ’s perfect obedience to the Law of God secures our release from the necessity of personally keeping the Law as a condition of justification.”[5] Rather, the foundation of Christian ethics is substantiated in the sinner through this iustitia imputata. McGrath rightly comments, “The doctrine of justification by faith declares that God makes available as a gift a new mode of existence, a new lifestyle, and enables believers to act in such a way that their actions correspond to those of Jesus.”[6] This does not mean that Christian ethics is justification. The only means by which the sinner is justified before God rests solely upon the imputation of the obedentia activa and obedentia passiva of Jesus Christ to a sinner, and subsequently God’s just declaration of the sinner’s soteriological state based on the work of Christ. It is this justification that makes Christian ethics possible.

Based on the requirements of the Law, it is not enough that Christ dies for the sins of His people. To die and cleanse sinners from their sin is to set them at ground zero. At that point redeemed sinners still continue to sin. As Luther said, they are piles of dung covered in gold. The remnants of remaining sin and the filthiness of the flesh still war with the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). They must also have a covering that continues to infinitely expiate their sin before the holy justice of God; otherwise, justification becomes analytic and not synthetic. Analytic justification is the Roman Catholic belief where God looks both at the sinner and the Savior and justifies them based on what Christ did and what the sinner continues to do. Synthetic justification is the biblical formulation where God recognizes Christ’s work, both the obedentia activa and obedentia passiva, and declares the sinner just as a result of them both. The sinner, in the ordo salutis, has been regenerated, acts with a fides reflexa (a reflex act of faith) springing from regeneration, is declared righteous by God on account of Christ’s iustitia imputata, but is then continued to be viewed in this credited manner because of the perfect obedentia of Christ’s work. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the iustitia Dei where men cannot. It is this active obedience that continues to justify them, and it is passive obedience that continues to save them before the wrath of God’s justice. Kline rightly comments, “For Christ himself enters upon the inheritance as the forerunner, surety, and head of the many only when by his active and passive obedience he has fulfilled the constant Hauptgebot of the covenant and submitted to the demand of the curse sanction voiced in the covenant from the beginning.”[7]

Throughout the centuries Reformed theologians and confessions have embraced and taught this distinction of the obedentia activa and obedentia passiva of Jesus Christ. The Belgic Confession states that understanding the justification of the sinner, “embraces Jesus Christ with all His merits…imputing to us all His merits, and so many holy works which He has done for us and in our stead.”[8] In question 60 the Heidelberg Catechism defines this righteousness which Christians receive, “as if I had never committed nor had any sins, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me.” The Second Helvetic Confession echoes these sentiments, “Therefore, solely on account of Christ's sufferings and resurrection God is propitious with respect to our sins and does not impute them to us, but imputes Christ's righteousness to us as our own (2 Cor. 5:19 ff.; Rom. 4:25), so that now we are not only cleansed and purged from sins or are holy, but also, granted the righteousness of Christ, and so absolved from sin, death and condemnation, are at last righteous and heirs of eternal life. Properly speaking, therefore, God alone justifies us, and justifies only on account of Christ, not imputing sins to us but imputing his righteousness to us.”[9] And so Calvin’s influence on the French Confession states the same where the, “obedience of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to us” saves sinners.[10] The Westminster Confession makes this distinction when it says that justification is through “imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ” to elect sinners. [11] The Confession qualifies what “obedience” means in respect to Christ’s obedentia activa and obedentia passiva when it says, “Christ, by his obedience and death,” making a conscious choice to utilize both his active obedience and his passive obedience (death) as the foundation for justification.[12]

John Gill states that the obedentia Christi encompasses, “not only the active obedience of Christ, with his sufferings and death, but also that the holiness of his human nature is imputed to us for justification.”[13]

John Owen speaks extensively about this throughout His works. In one example he states:
“First, By the obedience of the life of Christ you see what is intended, —his willing submission unto, and perfect, complete fulfilling of, every law of God, that any of the saints of God were obliged unto. It is true, every act almost of Christ’s obedience, from the blood of his circumcision to the blood of his cross, was attended with suffering, so that his whole life might, in that regard, be called a death; but yet, looking upon his willingness and obedience in it, it is distinguished from his sufferings peculiarly so called, and termed his active righteousness. This is, then, I say, as was showed, that complete, absolutely perfect accomplishment of the whole law of God by Christ, our mediator; whereby he not only “did no sin, neither was there guile fold in his mouth,” but also most perfectly fulfilled all righteousness, as he affirmed it became him to do. Secondly, That this obedience was performed by Christ not for himself, but for us, and in our stead.”[14]

Owen also says that, “with respect unto the imputation of the active obedience or righteousness of Christ unto us [is] an essential part of that righteousness whereon we are justified before God.”[15] Owen gathers these biblical ideas as a result of Christ’s work as the Surety of the covenant. He continues, “That which Christ, the mediator and surety of the covenant, did do in obedience unto God, in the discharge and performance of his office, that he did for us; and that is imputed unto us.”[16]

Charles Hodge states, “The righteousness of Christ is commonly represented as including his active and passive obedience. This distinction is, as to the idea, Scriptural.”[17]

According to William Ames, in differentiation from the works of Adam which brought condemnation, Christ’s works, all of them, are imputed to the Christian for justification, “The obedience of Christ is that righteousness (Romans 5:16) in the name of which the grace of God justifies us, just as the disobedience of Adam was that offense (Romans 5:16) for which God’s justice condemns us. Therefore the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers in justification.”[18]

Turretin explains the difference between the active and passive righteousness of Christ and its importance,
“the two things are not to be separated from each other. We are not to say as some do that the “satisfaction” is by the passive work of Christ alone and the “merit” is by the active work alone. The satisfaction and the merit are not to be thus viewed in isolation, each by itself, because the benefit in each depends upon the total work of Christ. For sin cannot be expiated until the law as precept has been perfectly fulfilled; nor can a title to eternal life be merited before the guilt of sin has been atoned for.”[19] He continues later, “the obedience of Christ rendered in our name to God the Father is so given to us by God that it is reckoned to be truly ours and that it is the sole and only righteousness on account of and by the merit of which we are absolved from the guilt of our sins and obtain a right to life; and that there is in us no righteousness or good works by which we can deserve such great benefits which can bear the server examination of the divine court, if God willed to deal with us according to the rigor of his law.”[20]
Witsius explicates the imputation of the work of Christ and the period of time in which Christ’s sufferings count for us, “from his very infancy, and through the whole course of His life, especially the close thereof, he endured all manner of sufferings, both in soul and body, humbling, nay, emptying himself, and being obedient to the Father unto death, even death of the cross…in time he fully performed for his people all that the law required in order to obtain a right to eternal life.”[21]

Jonathan Edwards explains why Christ’s active obedience is so vital in respect to covenant work and fulfillment:
The first distribution of the acts of Christ’s righteousness is with respect to the laws which Christ obeyed in that righteousness which he performed. But here it must be observed in general, that all the precepts which Christ obeyed may be reduced to one law, and that is that which the apostle calls the law of works, Rom. 3:27. Every command that Christ obeyed may be reduced to that great and everlasting law of God that is contained in the covenant of works, that eternal rule of right which God had established between himself and mankind. Christ came into the world to fulfill and answer the covenant of works, that is, the covenant that is to stand forever as a rule of judgment. And that is the covenant that we had broken, and that was the covenant that must be fulfilled.[22]
Shedd says the same more succinctly, “Christ’s active obedience is his perfect performance of the requirements of the moral law.”[23] Without this obedience, men can never be justified in the sight of God and obtain a true righteousness that does not fail them.

A no-nonsense article such as this is relevant to the theological seminarian today and his future ministry among the people of God. Why? Teachings surrounding the active and passive obedience of Christ in current Reformed Theological circles are under attack by those who desire to supplant these truths with a works-righteousness. For example, those who are advocating the New Perspective on Paul base much of their teachings on a rejection of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ in relation to the law. They rest much of their theology on parables (an historic practice heretics used to insert meaning of their own into the text) and on a reverse reading of typology (one consistently finds that their approach to typology has the Old Testament controlling the New Testament, rather than the other way around).

For example, they use the parable of the rich young ruler to say that works can save. In discourse with some of these advocates, one may listen affrightedly to their argumentation as they attempt to make Christ say that He expected the rich young ruler to save himself by giving away all his money. Then, they use John 15 to say that truly regenerate people who are indwelt with the regenerating new life of the Spirit can still fall away.[24] Such is the new-fangled “objectivity” of the covenant, and the “corporate justification” one should look to over and against the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ advocated by these “covenant moralists.” Yet, the Scriptures speak differently, as does Confessional Christianity and its orthodox teachers. Such teachings are infiltrating, not only aged seminaries, but the up and coming pastor attending those seminaries, and then finally the churches they preach in every Sunday. This is a blatant retreat from the historical Reformed position, both theologically and confessionally on this issue. And it is of such importance to the salvation of the elect sinner, that in speaking about the active and passive obedience of Christ, Gerhard Forde rightly states, “where the church no longer speaks this word, it has lost its reason for being.”[25]

[1] This should be noted, “It is not to be interpreted as if it meant, that His passive obedience consisted in mere suffering, or that His active obedience consisted in mere service; for it implies obedience in both, and excludes sufferings from neither.” Buchanan, James, Justification, (Carlisle, Banner of Truth Trust: 1991), Page 307.

[2] Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.: 1988) Page 379.

[3] Making one righteous is to cross into the heretical “works salvation system” that Roman Catholicism has erected through the infused righteousness one may gain from Christ, but may also lose. The only manner in which a Roman Catholic may be able to gain this back is through works assigned to them through penance.

[4] Karlberg, Mark W. Westminster Theological Journal, Reformed Interpretation of the Mosaic Covenant, (Westminster Theological Seminary 1981;2002). Vol. 43, Page 52.

[5] Bahnsen, Greg, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, (Covenant Media Press: 2002) Page 128.

[6] McGrath, Alister E. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, In What Way Can Jesus Be A Moral Example For Christians? (The Evangelical Theological Society: 1991;2002). vol 34, Page 296.

[7] Kline, Meredith, Westminster Theological Journal, Law Covenant, (Westminster Theological Seminary: 1965;2002). vol 27, Page 13.

[8] The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article XXII, Our Justification Through Faith in Jesus Christ.

[9] The Second Helvetic Confession - Chapter XV, Of the True Justification of the Faithful.

[10] The French Confession, Article XVIII.

[11] The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XI Of Justification, Paragraph 1.

[12] Ibid, cf. the Westminster Confession of Faith paragraph 3, the Westminster Larger Catechism question 70 and the Westminster Shorter Catechism question 33.

[13] Gill, John, Sermon 37: The Doctrine Of Justification, By The Righteousness Of Christ,
Stated And Maintained. (Auburn, Ages Software: 2002, CD ROM) Page 11.

[14] Owen, John. Works, vol 3 (Carlisle, Banner of Truth Trust: 1992) Pages 204-205.

[15] Owen, John. Works, vol 1 (Carlisle, Banner of Truth Trust: 1992) Page 359.

[16] Ibid, Page 384.

[17] Hodge. Charles, Systematic Theology, Volume 3, (Grand Rapids, Wm. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1986) Page 141.

[18] Ames, William. The Marrow of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Baker Books: 1997) Page 162. Emphasis mine.

[19] Turretin, Francis. Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol 2 (Phillipsburg, P & R Publishing: 1994), Page 448.

[20] Turretin, Francis. Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol 2 (Phillipsburg, P & R Publishing: 1994) Page 648.

[21] Witsius, Herman. The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, vol 1 (Phillipsburg, P & R Publishing: 1990) Page 402.

[22] Edwards, Jonathan, Works, vol 1 (Carlisle, Banner of Truth Trust: 1992) Page 575.

[23] Shedd, W.G.T. Dogmatic Theology, (Phillipsburg, P & R Publishing: 2003) Page 720.

[24] Examples of this kind of Romanized teaching, and more, which denies the imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ and centers on a works-justification, may be found throughout the theology of the following works: Reformed is Not Enough, by Doug Wilson; Stumbling into Apostasy, Credenda Agenda, Vol. 13, Number 2, by Douglas Wilson; tapes from the Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference 2002 or 2003; The Climax of the Covenant, by NT Wright; What Saint Paul Really Said, by NT Wright; Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion, by E.P. Sanders; Word Biblical Commentary on Romans, by James D.G. Dunn; The Justice of God: A Fresh Look at the Old Doctrine of Justification by Faith, by James Dunn and Alan Sugate; Jesus, Paul, and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians, by James Dunn; Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays, by Krister Stendahl; The New Perspective on Paul, by Michael B. Thompson; The Call of Grace, by Norman Shepherd.

[25] Forde, Gerhard, Dialog, Justification by Faith Alone. The Article by which the Church Stands or Falls? (Fall 1988) Vol 27, Page 260.


Steve Sensenig said...

This is not meant to be a nitpick, but to ask for clarification. You seemed to have a problem with the reference to "second Adam", but then the article you quoted by McMahon quotes Karlberg as saying, "Where the first Adam failed as a covenant breaker, the second Adam succeeded in perfectly fulfilling the demands of the covenant by his active and passive obedience." (emphasis mine)

So could you clarify what you meant when you said, "I was stunned, shocked and surprised. First of all, Christ is never referred to as the Second Adam; only as the Last Adam...."

Again, I really don't mean that as a nitpick. I honestly did not understand what stunned, shocked, and surprised you in the reference to "Second Adam" in the seminary employee's writing.

I fully realize that was not the main point of your post, but it confused me a bit! :)

steve :)

jkrueger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jkrueger said...

From what you are saying, I would conclude that you are referring to either Dr. Seifrid at SBTS or Dr. Snider at Masters Theological Seminary. If I am wrong in this assertion, then I would certainly like to know where else this

On the first gentleman mentioned, I believe both Dr. White and Dr. Ascol wrote about Seifrid's departing from the orthodox, reformed understanding of imputation. If memory serves me correct, Dr. White pretty much obliterated Seifrid's position in the course of his blog. Dr. Seifrid remains in his same position at SBTS and has even been supported by the staff at the seminary for his less than "baptistic" views.

The second person mentioned, Dr. Snider, went forward with a rather unfortunate paper a few years ago when I attended ETS. Snider took some rather large hermeneutical leaps in coming to some rather interesting dispensational conclusions. His paper has not met with too much light, as in the light of day, but one must wonder as to whether or not Snider continues to teach in accordance to his thesis, and hence, in error. From what I have heard around the water cooler, many Master's Seminary staff have embraced Snider's errant view on the imputation of Christ's righteousness upon the soul of the elect.

In both circumstances, the seminary presidents of the men in question have been silent. I'm not sure if these good men understand that in today's world of instant information, instant debate, and instant reaction that this sort of gross theological error cannot be swept under a proverbial rug.

Sometimes really tough decisions must be made by Seminary Presidents that distance themselves from friends and cause friction amongst brothers that they have been in the trenches with. Even though this is a tough decision, the adverse situation that would and is being created by continuing to allow these gentlmen to teach these faulty positions is far worse; hundreds or perhaps thousands of men being trained for ministry that will perpetuate the errors of their professors.

Thanks for bringing this issue to light Steve. I know of others that have tried to bring correction in these areas that have been met by resistance. If my assertions were incorrect please forgive me.


Rusty said...


I am so appreciative that you've taken the time to talk about a unified and complete righteousness that is imputed to the believer - Christ's Active and Passive Obedience.

I've had to defend this Reformed belief because of some New Cov Theo folks who blatantly deny the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ.

The article was wonderful.

Thanks for your ministry Steve.

In the Saving faith of our Lord,
The Rusted One

SJ Camp said...

To Steve: The shock was not in relation to this brother misspeaking in relation to calling Christ the second Adam; but in denying the active and passive obedience of Christ as to what constitutes imputed righteousness in justification.

Be not confused any longer :-).

Puritan Belief said...

Mr John Owen is a hard hitter.

"and His righteous life credits nothing to my "account" as a believer"

Does he mean that it is only the death of Christ that credits to my account (righteousness) as a believer and nothing else?

the imputation simply: is the debt of sin we owe is taken away by Jesus Death. We are now without Sin and hence declared righteous.

It is not that God looks at us and instead of seeing us he sees the righteous life of Christ. (this is bad doctrine) He SEES US as we are without spot blemish wrinkle because sin has been dealt with now. Which previously made us enemies to God.

The righteous life is so important because by Him the law is fullfilled, the ordinances which spoke against us are no more because they couldn't stand up against Christ therefore they can't stand up against us and are nailed to the cross.... and so much more. After all the whole scripture is about it.

Steve Sensenig said...

Ahhh, I see you edited the post to clarify that now. Thanks for clearing that up.

I still wonder if you take issue with Karlberg using the term "second Adam".

Beyond that I'll digest the real meat of this post and leave the nitpicking now! :)

steve :)

SJ Camp said...

To Steve: I try to serve all who post here :-). You are welcome and nitpick away - it is how we all learn.

On the issue of the Second Adam - it's just not a biblical usage of the theological truth. I understand what he meant, he just didn't say it biblically. And its important to say it right--especially if you're a faculty member of a seminary. Agreed?

To JP: You are in the right ball park.


Mike Ratliff said...

So the imputation of Christ’s Righteousness to the saved is not just future. It is for us here and now that we should be holy and blameless before the Father!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

What a blessing!

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Terry Rayburn said...

Dear Brother Steve,

Let me preface my comments by saying what I think you already know: I despise the doctrine of the New Perspective, Wright, Gundry, Shepherd and the rest of the neo-legalists. Their views of justification are based on OUR works, and is legalistic, and I despise legalism.

However, because THOSE GUYS deny the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ, their names are used to smear others who fully believe in the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, but NOT the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ.

I am as sola scriptura as anyone I know. In fact I am so sola scriptura that I have a visceral reaction to "proofs" given without scripture, such as:

"The 1689 says..."
"The Westminster says..."
"McMahon teaches..."
"Calvin teaches..."
"Throughout the centuries Reformed theologians and confessions have embraced and taught this distinction..."
"The Belgic Confession...the Heidelburg Catechism...the Second Helvetic..."
"John Gill...John Owen...Charles Hodge...William Ames...Turretin...Witsius...Edwards...Shedd..."

Worst of all is the concept of defending "Historic Christianity", because in 1500 A.D. that would have meant Catholicism.

No doctrine should shrink from an examination from Scripture alone, and then a RE-examination from Scripture alone.

Having thoroughly studied this subject, but always open to Scriptural light, I looked for ONE verse of Scripture to support the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ, and found not one.

The question was asked, after quoting the 1689 LBC, "Could it be any more clear?"

No, the LBC couldn't be much clearer, but the Scriptures they referenced for "proofs" not only don't support their premise of imputation of Active Obedience, they teach the opposite.

For example, Rom. 5:18 says, "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through ONE act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."

Another example: Heb. 10:14, "For by ONE offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."

3rd example: 1 Pet. 1:18,19, "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."

Now I'm certainly not saying that Christ did not obey the Law perfectly throughout His life. He sure did.

But here's the key question:

Did Christ obey perfectly because He was righteous, or was He righteous because He obeyed perfectly? Surely it's the former. He was ALREADY righteous! That's why He obeyed. His righteousness was not dependent on His obedience, but His obedience showed that His righteousness was already inherent in Him.

I have read virtually every treatise on this so-called imputation of Active Obedience, and have repeatedly seen two things:

1. A dizzying reference to creeds, confessions, catechisms, and theological gurus, and...
2. A total lack of clear scriptural evidence.

In a much longer post, I could deal with the UNclear verses which are used to support the doctrine, but the burden of proof lies with those who teach the doctrine while avoiding relatively clear Scriptures like the plague.

Finally, why is this question important? Because the teaching of the imputation of the Active Obedience is a very subtle denial of the Cross, the Blood, the Death of Christ as sufficient for our justification.

Fire away boys and girls. But please, only with Scripture :)


Steve Sensenig said...

Steve, thanks for your gracious responses. I think this is turning into a bit more than a nitpick now, because I'm starting to feel like the reason you pointed out the "second" vs. "last" distinction was to show how unreliable you felt this faculty member's theology is.

I'll rephrase the question again: Do you take issue with Karlberg's use of the term "second Adam"?

I totally agree with you that it is important to speak biblically. But (you knew that was coming, huh? hehe) it seemed a little odd to use that point to show how this faculty member is not speaking biblically (casting doubt, then, on the real issue of his view of the Active Obedience) if the lengthy piece you reprinted to support your view also uses the same terminology.

If the "biblically incorrect" terminology is mentioned to undermine the teaching of that faculty member, then it should be consistently used to question McMahon's use of Karlberg.

Terry: Very interesting response. This is not an issue that I have studied in depth, so I was not prepared to offer the rebuttal that you did, but you referenced a lot of the same passages that were coming to my mind. I'll have to dig into this.

steve :)

4given said...

Okay Terry. You are making me dig... Even though this is very thorough in its presentation, there is always more to learn no matter how thorough. But I like digging. I like being challenged to really be assured of what I believe and why by way of sola scriptura especially. For the purpose of passing on these truths to my children. A role of motherhood and home education I take very seriously with appropriate fear.
I hope I do not sound too ignorant whe I say this for I know I have much to learn, but this all reminds me of the term used to describe the "trinity"
That term is not used in the Bible, but is an accurate description of Biblical truth.
That is what the this all boils down to really. Learned theologians describing Biblical truth with a statement that is not a direct quote from the Bible.... just like the term "Great Commission" and "missionary".

SJ Camp said...

To Steve: I have already answered this question. I don't approve of the use of the term "second Adam"; Dr. McMahon is not wrong here, he is just quoting another author; I do not support the use of that term by Karlberg either.

Qualifier: I did not site this to "undermine" the faculty member; but to demonstrate further his inconsistency in his assertions.

Don't let this rabbit trail divert you from the real issue here: what constitutes the righteousness imputed to us in justification? Focus on that...


Steve Sensenig said...

I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had answered the question with regard to Karlberg (via McMahon). I thought you were just reiterating your point about the faculty member. Thanks for clearing that up!

steve :)

SJ Camp said...

Terry: You wrote: "But here's the key question: Did Christ obey perfectly because He was righteous, or was He righteous because He obeyed perfectly? He was ALREADY righteous! That's why He obeyed. His righteousness was not dependent on His obedience, but His obedience showed that His righteousness was already inherent in Him."

If I may be so bold, that is not the issue here at all. No one is questioning whether or not the Lord is righteous (Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30). The issue is imputation; what constitutes the righteousness imputed to us in justification.

Jesus Christ is Theanthropos - the God-Man (the hypostatic union - One person, two natures - fully God/full Man. He is fully God (the Word) and fully Man (became flesh and dwelt among us). Why incarnate? Why did the Word become flesh? Why did Jesus Christ not abolish the Law, but fulfill it? Why was it necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness even though He is already perfectly righteous? Why was His obedience to the Law essential for us in justification?

For whom did Christ primarily die? It's an important question. Most CCM music today says that "we are the reason" "He thought of me above all" etc. etc. etc. But scripture teaches something quite different - Christ Died for God. (Romans 3:21-26; Eph. 1:7-12; Gal. 4:4).

By your logic brother, that righteous life lived didn't need to occur. Taken to its logical conclusion, you would have to say that Jesus could have incarnated on Monday, died on Friday, rose on Sunday, and ascended back to glory on Monday. There was no need to be born under the Law and fulfill the Law.

But again, this is where a proper understanding of Romans 5:12-18 is very important. (I know you are familiar with this text and there is not space here to unfold its truths, but please read and study this passage again).

If His sinless life meant nothing in His propitiatory sacrifice, then why did He need to live it? (For Himself? Hardly. That kind of thinking, as John Owen has shown, is rooted in Socinianism.)

Answer: the first Adam didn't. Adam as our federal head disobeyed God and sin entered this world; and the guilt, penalty and sin has now been imputed to all who come after Adam. Original sin. We are sinners not because we commit acts of sin; but because we are conceived in sin; we are sinners by nature; children of wrath by nature; sons of disobedience by nature. And sinful people will always sin.

So as our perfect substitute and merciful/faithful High Priest, Jesus Christ had to become like His brethren in all things, tempted as we are, yet without sin (cp, Heb. 2:14, 17; 4:15). (Sounds like active obedience to me...)

Christ came to fulfill the Law (Matt. 5:13-20); because we needed a better righteousness than that of the scribes and Pharisees to have eternal life (Matt. 5:20); the Law is God's standard of His holiness and justice revealed to lost man and by which all men are measured, judged and condemned guilty as charged before Him (all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God); but, Christ fulfilled the Law; was the spotless Lamb without blemish; and the sinless High Priest that went beyond the veil (Heb. 1:2-4; 6:19-20; 7:21-26) as a propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17); so that we would be justified freely by His grace (Titus 3:7) and have peace with God forever (Rom. 5:1).

The Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) who by His perfect obedience in life in fulfilling the Law and all righteousness; perfectly as our High Priest in His sufferings and death; rose victorious in His bodily resurrection from the dead; has actually redeemed us. "He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Why is the Law no longer our judge condemning us? Because Christ perfectly fulfilled it on our behalf in His sinless life resulting in His once for all sacrifice on the cross, redeeming us from the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13). It was not just the act of dying that brought our salvation; but the entirety of His life (virgin birth, sinless life lived, fulfilling the Law and all righteousness, His sufferings under Pilate, His propitiatory vicarious substitutionary death on the cross and His bodily resurrection). ALL OF IT.

If you don't like the terms "active and passive" - that is fine. For even men from Owen to Spurgeon have affirmed, the cross was anything but a passive obedience. I do understand that. We could just say that the Lord Jesus Christ in life, death, and resurrection was the perfect, unspotted Lamb of God; who was our divine substitute in all things pertaining to God; fulfilled the Law and all righteousness; propitiated the Father; satisfied God's justice and holiness; endured the eternal wrath of God upon the cross that you and I deserve in hell forever and ever; and that He instituted a new covenant; and brought us into peace with God forever.


That is why is active obedience is so important. You cannot divorce His life lived from the cross suffered. It is all part of God's plan of redemption for the elect (2 Tim. 1:9-10; Titus 1:1).

Here is the real issue Terry: this faculty member doesn't want to embrace the active/passive obedience of Christ - not because it is not in the text (the whole of Scripture supports this), but because he would have to embrace Covenant Theology to do so. That's it.

If you affirm that the covenant of works with Adam that God established in the garden was broken; and that the Last Adam came to fulfill God's Law in incarnation as Man, because the First Adam was disobedient to God's command, then he would have to abandon his "steroidal dispensational grid" for a biblical reformed theology; and that is what is at the root of this issue with many of these guys.

Hope this helps clarify a bit more.

Press on... I always appreciate you and your comments.

2 Cor. 5:21

donsands said...


"...David also describes the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works,
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. ...that righteousness might be imputed unto them also". Romans 4:6-8,11

2 Cor. 5:21 "...that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [Christ]."

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,". Isaiah 61:10

Interesting Hebrew word here for Robe.
For me this lesson from Steve excited my soul. It gives so much glory to God! And the Scriptures surely proclaim this marvelous teaching, at least for me they do.

One question for whoever, wy did our Lord allow Himself to be baptzed? Perhaps for a different post?

4given said...

I have come to the conclusion Terry, that this really is a thorough work. That sola scriptura here has already thoroughly been displayed. Perhaps not exhaustively... but extensively.
On the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist:
Matthew 3:15
Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.
--"Although Jesus alone did not need John's baptism-he was the giver of the true baptism (3:11)-he submitted to it to fulfill God's plan (3:14-15). In a traditional Mediterranean culture where society stressed honor and shame (Malina 1993), Jesus relinquishes his rightful honor to embrace others' shame... on behalf of others Jesus voluntarily accepted a lower status than he deserved. Since "fulfilling righteousness" elsewhere in Matthew may pertain to obeying the principles of the law (5:17, 20; compare, for example, Sib. Or. 3.246), Jesus presumably here expresses his obedience to God's plan revealed in the Scriptures. But Jesus sometimes also fulfilled the prophetic Scriptures by identifying with Israel's history and completing its mission (Mt 2:15, 18)... This text declares the marvelous love of God for an undeserving world-especially for us who by undeserved grace have become his disciples. Jesus' example also calls us to offer ourselves sacrificially for an undeserving world as he offered himself for us. In a world that regards moral boundaries as impractical, where nothing higher than selfish passion guides many lives around us, Jesus reminds us of a higher mission and purpose for our lives... We who often trifle with obedience in the smallest matters-for instance, the discipline of our thoughts or words for God's honor-are shamed by our Lord's obedience. May we worship him so intensely that his desires become our own and we, like our Lord, become obedient servants with whom the Father is well pleased."
Please forgive me if I have rabbit trailed. This is a process of learning for me.
Eager student... servant/co-leader to my children, servant-helper to my husband.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I'm with you Campi.

donsands said...


"Christ died for God." This is so important for the believer to understand. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.


"Jesus relinquishes his rightful honor to embrace others shame"

Good thought. What a Savior!

SJ Camp said...

Joseph you wrote: "This is a hangover of Catholicism, which makes Christs' pre-cross sufferings somehow atoning."

This is a false statement and not even consistent with the skewed system of Romanism.

1. Rome doesn't consider the pre-cross sufferings as atoning in and of themselves. They consider faith plus works; grace plus merit; an infused righteousness in a progressive justification rather than Christ's imputed righteousness in a forensic legal declaration atoning. But not even that is sufficient for Rome. You must also include their complex system of penance; baptism; the mass as propitiatory; the Fifth Marian dogma; the Treasury of Merit; Purgatory, etc. as part of being made worthy of heaven. IOW, it is a complex semi-Pelagistic system of works righteousness.

2. I'm not sure if you really understand the issues here. Christ Himself is not imputed to us--it is His righteousness that is imputed to us in justification. The doctrine of imputation in the most simplistic form is this: our sin imputed to Christ; His righteousness imputed to us. To affirm, as you suggest, that Christ Himself is imputed to us; you would also have to affirm that we ourselves were imputed to Him. Surely you don't believe this... do you?

3. Christ as our Federal Head was treated on the cross as if He lived our life; and we by grace through faith, are treated as if we lived His life. IOW, every sin, that would ever be committed, by everyone that would ever believe, was imputed or credited to Christ as their propitiation on the cross (including the guilt, penalty and the wrath of God (Heb. 2:17; Rom. 3:21-26); so that we could be clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ and have peace with God forever (Rom. 5:1).

4.This issue is about what constitutes the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to us. And it is not just His sacrificial death on the cross pardoning the penalty of sin; but also, that demand to satisfy God's holiness and justice that He fulfil the Law and all righteousness so that those who are in Christ the law has no claim upon. As Paul says, culminating on the cross, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;" (Col. 2:14).

5.The Bible though never speaks of Jesus Himself being imputed to us. It does speak of us being "in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17); of Christ being "in us" - the hope of glory (Col. 1:5); of us being crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20); of putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14); of being part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12), etc. but never of Christ Himself being imputed to us.

I would encourage you to revisit your thinking on this brother.

Thank you for your comment.
Romans 3:21-26

Terry Rayburn said...


You said, "Hope this helps clarify a bit more."

Actually, no. So much dust is being kicked up (some of it wonderful dust, but not directly related), that I sense the initial subject can't be seen.

The hypostatic union; for whom Christ primarily died; Socianism; first and last Adam; use or non-use of the terms "active" and "passive" obedience;....these are all dusty clouds obscurring the issue.

May I attempt to position the issue in a mini-catechism?:

Q. What is imputed to us?
A. Christ's righteousness.

Q. What is righteousness?
A. Right standing or right relationship with God, without guilt of sins.

Q. Is righteousness inherent in men?
A. No, they are born and live in wrong standing or wrong relationship with God, and stand guilty of sins, until they are justified, or declared righteous by God.

Q. Is righteousness inherent in Christ?
A. Yes, since He has always been in right standing and right relationship with God, and has always been sinless.

Q. When a man is regenerated and given faith in Christ, is he justified or declared righteous, once forever?
A. Yes.

Q. How is he declared righteous?
A. In the pattern of Abraham, his faith is credited to him as righteousness, Christ's righteousness is imputed to him, and he is thereby declared righteous (that is, in right standing and relationship with God, without guilt of sins, which are forgiven).

Q. By what act or series of acts is this justification obtained?
A. By ONE act, the shedding of the blood of Christ in his death on the Cross.

Q. Is there a CLEAR scripture to prove this?
A. Yes, here are two:
Romans 5:18, "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through ONE ACT of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."...and,
Hebrews 10:14, "For by ONE OFFERING He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."

Q. What then of His life of obedience to the Father?
A. He did indeed live a life of "Active Obedience", which should never be discounted, but it did not make Him righteous.

Q. Was His obedience instrumental in His righteousness?
A. By no means. His righteous is inherent in Himself. His obedience did, however, authenticate His righteousness, and identify Him as the Messiah and Son of God, along with many other prophetic and miraculous authentications.

Q. And it is this righteousness inherent in Him that He imputes to us?
A. Yes, through the instrument of the ONE ACT on the Cross.

Q. Are you intimidated by the fact that so many godly Reformed men disagree with you?
A. Not in the least, though I am humbly willing to change my mind in a moment, if there might be an abandoning of red herrings, smoke and mirrors, Confessions and theologians...in favor of just a verse or two which might show that Christ's "active obedience" is imputed to us....AND if the aforementioned Rom. 5:18 and Heb. 10:14 are honestly confronted, instead of evaded.

Steve wrote: "We could just say that the Lord Jesus Christ in life, death, and resurrection was the perfect, unspotted Lamb of God; who was our divine substitute in all things pertaining to God; fulfilled the Law and all righteousness; propitiated the Father; satisfied God's justice and holiness; endured the eternal wrath of God upon the cross that you and I deserve in hell forever and ever; and that He instituted a new covenant; and brought us into peace with God forever.

In that, my dear brother, we are in complete agreement :)

Love sharpening iron with you,,

Jeremy Weaver said...

I may be out of line here as one of the least of theologians, but it seems that your defintion of 'righteousness' is faulty.

You said, "Q. What is righteousness?
A. Right standing or right relationship with God, without guilt of sins."

This definition looks more like a declaration of 'not guilty' than a declaration of righteousness.

Could you clarify please?

Mike Ratliff said...

Having just completed "The God Who Justifies" by James R. White I feel like I have had the imputation of Christ's Righteousness hammered into me.

Brother Terry, nice mini-catechism. I agree with you completly.

The imputation of Christ's Righteousness to us at salvation is God's legal declaration that we are in right standing before Him. Our regeneration does change us so that we now have the abiliity to obey God, but we are not given Christ Himself. He is our savior, but it is His righteousness that is imputed to us. Our unrighteousness was imputed to Him on the cross.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Puritan Belief said...

Jesus is righteous because of who he is the ONE true and eternal God of both old and new testaments. There is NO OTHER.

It was impossible for him to sin or fail. I hate when catholics say "... Jesus could have sinned when tempted". LIARS!!!!

All his works in his life was for us and to fulfill what HE WROTE of HIMSELF.

Jesus commonly said when something amazing happened:
"This was for your sake not mine"

Many people over complicate what is clearly spelled out in scripture to do with imputed righteousness. If it is too complicated then it is not of the Spirit of Christ. The truth is never complicated.

"God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

So what is imputed righteousness? Simple isn't it. It is those whose sin is no more.

Doxoblogist you miss the simplicity and truth of righteousness by wanting to complicate and add on to what is plain.


Bhedr said...

I'm with you Terry:-)

I must say that I have tremendous respect for Campi, but believe Terry's point should not so easily be dismissed.

Terry? Your arguments give me peace as this is the only place where I can find rest...and Know!

Terry Rayburn said...

Darth Doxo,

While Scripture doesn't specifically define righteousness, there seems to be two biblical aspects to it:

1. A relational aspect, specifically a right relationship to God, or what we loosely call “right standing” with Him. Under the New Covenant, those who were not His people are now the people of God, with no barrier between them and God.

2. A “forensic” or judicial aspect, in which one is sinless (as in Christ), or in which sins are no longer held against one (as in justified believers). Or as the wordplay on “justification” is sometimes put, “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned”. Not a bad cliché.

Thus my homely definition:

“Right standing or right relationship with God, without guilt of sins.”

How would you define it, biblically?

Peace to you, Yellow Eyes,

4given said...

You guys are just way over my head now. But have given me much food for thought. Thank you.

Jeremy Weaver said...

It just seems to me that a declaration of 'not guilty' cannot produce a right standing with God. There must also be a positive in relation to imputed righteousness because forgiveness of sins can only take us from '-1,000,000,000' to '0', so to speak. But God requires righteous works for entrance into heaven.
We can go one of two ways here,
1. Christ brings us to level zero and then we supply the needed works for entrance into heaven,or
2. Christ brings to level zero and then supplies our positive righteousness for entrance to heaven.

I believe that option #2 is the biblical position, my puny language notwithstanding.

I am also not sure whether Christ's righteousness as God is the basis of our salvation so much as His righteousness accomplished as a man. Otherwise, why the incarnation?

SJ Camp said...


My response to your Q&A:

Q. What is imputed to us?
A. Christ's righteousness.
SC - that is correct

Q. What is righteousness?
A. Right standing or right relationship with God, without guilt of sins.
SC - that is incorrect in part. What you described here is more akin to justification. Righteousness is classically defined as: having integrity before God and man--being in right relationship with; conformity of life to the divine law; includes all we call justice, holiness, virtue; moral uprightness. exact rectitude according to the perfection of God's character. AND it is the cause of our justification by sola fide.

AND justification is not "just as though we never sinned." That minimizes man's sin and diminishes the work of Christ. Justification is not reversing the clock to Eden; it is a forensic legal declaration that sinful man is no longer the enemy of God, under the judgement of God, alienated from God. He is now the friend of God, the child of God. We are declared righteous in Christ. BUT also we are clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ (His active and passive obedience) so that we are no longer under the curse of the Law or its demands, but in Christ.

Q. Is righteousness inherent in men?
A. No, they are born and live in wrong standing or wrong relationship with God, and stand guilty of sins, until they are justified, or declared righteous by God.
SC - that is correct

Q. Is righteousness inherent in Christ?
A. Yes, since He has always been in right standing and right relationship with God, and has always been sinless.
SC - the first part is correct, the second is not and you should be careful here dear brother. Christ is God of very God. His righteousness is not because He is in right standing with God. He is God, has always been God, He is immutable in His character and even in incarnation He is never ceased to be God or strayed one moment from the perfection of His holiness. He is thoroughly righteous by fact of nature not by fact of right standing.

Q. When a man is regenerated and given faith in Christ, is he justified or declared righteous, once forever?
A. Yes.
SC - that is correct and you got the order correct: regeneration precedes faith.

Q. How is he declared righteous?
A. In the pattern of Abraham, his faith is credited to him as righteousness, Christ's righteousness is imputed to him, and he is thereby declared righteous (that is, in right standing and relationship with God, without guilt of sins, which are forgiven).
SC - this needs clarification: faith is not that which is imputed to us; faith is only the instrument by which justification occurs; is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9); and by faith the fullness of Christ's righteousness is imputed to us.

Yes, we are declared righteous; but also, and you keep leaving this out, we are clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ. It is just not a declaration alone. It is imputation as well (2 Cor. 5:21).

Q. By what act or series of acts is this justification obtained?
A. By ONE act, the shedding of the blood of Christ in his death on the Cross.
SC - you are incorrect. First of all, when the Scriptures speak of Christ's blood being shed for us (i.e. "blood of His cross") it is not speaking about the fluid of blood only, but of the entire atoning work of Christ--not just His dying. Secondly, the act of justification though culminating on the cross, involves His incarnation, sinless life lived in fulfilling the Law and all righteousness AND the resurrection. As Paul says in Rom. 4:25 "who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised zfor our justification."

Terry, you cannot divorce His virgin birth, sinless life, obedience to the Law and fulfilling all righteousness, HIs scourging, and HIs resurrection from the once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross. ALL was necessary for our salvation brother.

Q. Is there a CLEAR scripture to prove this?
A. Yes, here are two:
Romans 5:18, "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through ONE ACT of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."...and,
Hebrews 10:14, "For by ONE OFFERING He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."
SC - Oh my. You are confusing the "once for all" sacrifice of Christ; to the ONE reason you are trying to proof text here. Paul is comparing the one act of disobedience in the First Adam, by federal representation, to the one act of righteousness by the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, our federal head in justification. BUT this one act of righteousness is comprised of several things--not just one thing. That is the difference.

Q. What then of His life of obedience to the Father?
A. He did indeed live a life of "Active Obedience", which should never be discounted, but it did not make Him righteous.
SC - Once again that was not the purpose of His sinless life. Where do you get these things? The purpose was to fulfill the Law of God and all righteousness on our behalf, which was only possible by our Holy and Righteous Lord--not to make Him righteous. That would be a form of Socinianism.

Q. Was His obedience instrumental in His righteousness?
A. By no means. His righteous is inherent in Himself. His obedience did, however, authenticate His righteousness, and identify Him as the Messiah and Son of God, along with many other prophetic and miraculous authentications.
SC - the question is mute. You are trying to develop a logic that says that Christ fulfilled the Law to somehow make Him righteous in a way that He was not.

Q. And it is this righteousness inherent in Him that He imputes to us?
A. Yes, through the instrument of the ONE ACT on the Cross.
SC - Again, you are confusing His inherent righteousness that is His by nature, to that which is imputed to us by virtue of His obedience in incarnation. Under your scenario, Jesus could have just appeared on a Monday, died on a Friday, resurrected on Sunday and ascended back to glory on a Monday. Foolishness.

Q. Are you intimidated by the fact that so many godly Reformed men disagree with you?
A. Not in the least, though I am humbly willing to change my mind in a moment, if there might be an abandoning of red herrings, smoke and mirrors, Confessions and theologians...in favor of just a verse or two which might show that Christ's "active obedience" is imputed to us....AND if the aforementioned Rom. 5:18 and Heb. 10:14 are honestly confronted, instead of evaded.
SC - You should be brother. To toss away that much wisdom in church history is a bit arrogant. AND, it is more than just Reformed brethren who affirm His active and passive obedience. Did you read the 1999 statement on yesterday's post?

Terry, I find it interesting that you want to casually toss out the Creeds and Confessions of the faithful men of God from years past, but then you offer us your own "confession" in their place and we are to honor it?

The Confessions were written in defense of biblical doctrine under attack by faithful men of God skilled in God's Word and theology who wrestled through these issues with painstaking care and then articulated their findings. With all do respect, your "mini catechism" is not worthy to be considered for such dialogue though I appreciate you and the effort you made.

Grace and peace,

SJ Camp said...

I am posting this on behalf of Uncialman. He has had trouble getting his comments to post.

Terry stated:
Not in the least, though I am humbly willing to change my mind in a moment, if there might be an abandoning of red herrings, smoke and mirrors, Confessions and theologians...in favor of just a verse or two which might show that Christ's "active obedience" is imputed to us....AND if the aforementioned Rom. 5:18 and Heb. 10:14 are honestly confronted, instead of evaded.

Uncialman replies:
Actually, Terry, you have yet to give a positive presentation for the unorthodox view that you are attempting to present. Sadly, your errors have not only been exegetically unsound, but your entire eschewing of a historical understanding for the view that you are espousing is, to say the very least, quite troubling. Possibly instead of turning what you refer to as "red herring" and a "dizzying array" of historical heremeutic decrees from faithful men entrusted to preserve the gospel into an ad hominem, maybe you should consider that the weight of burden exists on your shoulders to disprove what has been proven through careful examination of the Scriptures. Sadly, your methodology in argumentation is quite similar to the old JW "well find me anywhere in the Bible where I can find the word 'trinity' and I'll believe" style of presentation.

Steve Sensenig said...

doxoblogist wrote: God requires righteous works for entrance into heaven.

Sincere question: Is there a difference between righteous works and righteousness?

Matthew2323 said...

Thank you Mr. Camp for the responses to the catechism. Well said! How can we divorce any of Christ’s life and death from the benefits we freely receive? Indeed we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

Consider Zechariah 3.
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, " The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, " Remove the filthy garments from him." Again he said to him, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes." 5 Then I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6 And the angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, 7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing {here.}
8 'Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you--indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. 9 'For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 'In that day,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'every one of you will invite his neighbor to {sit} under {his} vine and under {his} fig tree.' "

Terry Rayburn said...

For 30 years as a Christian, in seeking the face of the Lord, and seeking to learn and explain His precious Word, I have noticed something.

This "something" used to be very disturbing to me, but honestly, I accept it as part of life and Providence. Obviously, I would prefer it were otherwise, yet I rest in the fact that God is doing His poetry in ALL believers.

This "something" I have noticed is this:

When a person is at a loss for a clear Biblical argument, they almost invariably grasp at any stick they can reach to club their opponent. In other words, when they believe something passionately, but can't support it with clear verses from God's Word, they will twist, smear, make innuendoes, gather support from others of the same opinion, paint their opponent with a brush of "unorthodox", etc.

I understand that. That's why it has always taken courage to "unleash the scriptures, one verse at a time".

In view of this "something":

You know that I know that Jesus is God. Why infer otherwise in the little dissertation on Christology? To win a debate?

You know that I don't "...divorce His virgin birth, sinless life, obedience to the Law and fulfilling all righteousness, HIs scourging, and HIs resurrection from the once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross." I never even implied that I don't treasure these important truths. Only that they are not imputed to us. Why would you infer that? To win a debate?

You know I'm not a Socian. Why would you use such an inflammatory brand? To win a debate?

Surely you know that I'm not saying, "Jesus could have just appeared on a Monday, died on a Friday, resurrected on Sunday and ascended back to glory on a Monday. Foolishness." I imagine that when we ask "What was God's purpose in this or that?", God chuckles, because He has thousands or millions of purposes in all He does, far above our ability to even perceive. Why would you attribute such a silly view to me, when I never even came close to such absurdity? To win a debate?

Why would you say it's arrogance to not be intimidated by the opinion of Reformed scholars? I know you are a believer in sola scriptura. I don't "toss away" their wisdom, as you suggest, I merely refuse to believe them when I think they are in opposition to Scripture. I have no fear of being found "off their reservation". And I will NEVER support an argument by quoting a Confession! I love the Confessions, and the men who labored over them, but they are not Scripture, and I have a visceral reaction to treating them as if they are. I know you agree with me in your heart, brother. Why would you call that arrogance? To win a debate?


Since you made no biblical case for anything, I have no answer to your comments, except to say that it's a perfect example of my long-time observation noted above.

Meanwhile, I have yet to see any cogent scriptural arguments indicating that the "Active Obedience" of Christ is imputed to believers, any more than the Old Covenant lambs' romping in the fields eating clover covered the sins of the Israelites on Yom Kippur. It just showed they were lambs, as Christ's precious undeniable "Active Obedience" showed He was the Lamb of God.

I don't want to take back that last paragraph, because I think it makes a good point. But please, don't anyone write back something like, "Terry, how DARE you compare the romping of a dumb animal in the field with the precious Active Obedience of our precious Lord? You...you...PITA person!" Ple-e-ease. ;-)

Sola Scriptura, with the emphasis on Sola,

Jeremy Weaver said...

Steve Sensenig,
I used the words righteous works to bring a more biblical sense to the conversation. It seems that some would say that righteousness is merely a state of being, but true biblical righteousness is always accompanied by works in the text.

Uncialman said...

Sadly, Terry, your post betrays the critical arguments that you are attempting to make in your argument against a Scriptural understanding of imputation.

Sir, re-read your posts and you will find that you have not made a positive, scriptural, exegetical case for your position. You demand exactness from others, have dismissed the entirety of the reformed hermeneutic with a mighty waive of the back of your hand and, if I may be so bold, have twisted, smeared, made innuendoes, gathered support from others of the same opinions, painted their opponent with a brush of "unbibilical" without ever making a positive presentation of your view. As you had began in your original post on this thread, you then end your discourse in your most recent entry with an ad hominem - are you seeing any sort of hypocrisy in your statements.

Lastly, your methodology has remained the same as a run-of-the-mill Jehova's Witness in your engagement of this issue. As you have obviously dug your heals into some sort of dispensational or NCT framework, you have been unable to examine the issues of the fall and redemption exegetically without the influence of your rather *new* hermeneutic.

To say that you are above all a believer in sola scriptura seems to be somewhat questionable. Are you saying that you came to your current viewpoint without *any* influence of *any* other pastors, professors or authors that hold to this position? Are you saying that you have developed your own systematic understanding of the interpretation of Scripture without *any* assistance or teaching? Come on Terry...

Lastly, holding to sola scriptura - as has been so defined throughout the centuries - does not mean "me and my bible on a deserted island under a tree". We should be taught and catechized as a proper way of understanding *how* to interpret the Scriptures - not just boldly go where no man has gone before in our interpretive endeavors.

I pray you will allow yourself to be taught on this issue and deal with considerable seriousness with the Scriptural arguments Brother Camp is making.

Terry Rayburn said...

By the way, I meant P.E.T.A., not PITA : )


SJ Camp said...

For those who may be getting lost in this issue, the importance of it is profound. The gospel of sola fide is under attack today. Justification is being rewritten by the New Perspective of Paul crowd; and now we have mainline evangelical seminaries with faculty who don't hold to a biblical view of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ IN justification. And some for not wanting to embrace Covenant Theology in Adam's Fall in the garden of Eden.

Recently, R.C. Sproul summed it up well when saying: "if we are going to talk about justification today, than we cannot talk about it apart from imputation; and if we are going to talk about imputation today, we cannot talk about it apart from the active and passive obedience of Christ."

This is essential cardinal doctrine, beloved, that I am willing to "go to the mattresses" over (to quote a wonderful Sicilian theologian, Don Vito Corleone).

Now, on to my passionate and verbose friend Terry:

Firstly, P.E.T.A. - People for the Ethical Treatment of Arminians. :-).

Secondly, let's all take a deep breath here for a moment. I wasn't making any slams against you, but trying to show the logical conclusions of some of your assertions. You are a dear brother in the Lord and I appreciate you greatly.

And I am not trying to win a debate--that's easy to do. What I am trying to make is the biblical case for this important doctrine concerning our justification. But I have to say that I don't understand your reasoning here.

You see the need for Christ's righteous life lived. You see that the law had to be fulfilled with all righteousness by Jesus in incarnation. You see that we cannot divorce from incarnation to resurrection His life from its purpose in atonement. So what is the issue here?

Why can't you accept His obedience to the Law and His complete sacrifice on the cross in propitiation as that which satisfies the holiness, justice and wrath of God; so that by faith in Christ that righteousness by the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, as Son of Man, is imputed to us as His believers so that we have a right standing before God in justification?

His sinless life of obedience, His complete atoning sacrifice, His bodily resurrection all goes to our justification.

Thirdly, why I am concerned here, is that what you are representing is not the orthodox position throughout church history as taught and affirmed in the Scriptures.

That is what Uncialman was trying to say to you. He gave the example of someone denying the doctrine of the Trinity because the word Trinity is not in the Bible. It may not be a biblical term, but it does represent biblical truth. The same applies here with the "active and passive" obedience of Christ. It's a nomenclature is not a biblical term, but it represents a vast amount of biblical truth--which I have tried to demonstrate for you.

Fourthly, however, in all our discussion so far, nowhere have you demonstrated that Christ's inherent righteousness by virtue of His nature from all eternity past, is the righteousness that is imputed to us in justification. In fact you ARE saying that He fulfilled the Law not for us, but for Himself.

Have you read the article i posted today by John Owen on this very thing? He deals with that aspect powerfully and biblically. I know you would enjoy reading it and benefiting from it.

Grace and peace,
Col. 1:9-14

Bhedr said...


One sacrifice is the argument Terry is trying to make here.

What sleeps at the heart of this issue? I think Terry is trying to draw out what so often subtly sleeps as leaven trying to draw us back to the Law and seek to demand that we find ourselves in the acts of the obedience of Christ. When Steve gives the gospel Call he always tells us to take up the cross in order to be saved.

Is this how some of you got saved?

I don't think this is how Steve got saved, but so often many of us become like Peter and want to say, "Not so Lord." in referance to allowing him to wash our feet.

I think some of it has to do with testosterone. It is hard for us men to admit that we have smelly feet and that we are in need and hurt and need the Love of God who loves like a mother loves her young.

Peter tried to find himself in the righteous acts of Jesus when he said he would follow the Lord to death. Are you sure this is not what sleeps here? Please consider this. The only place I can look is to the cross to believe I am forgiven. Of course his righteous acts were part of redemptions plan, but what I think Terry is trying to isolate is that we are confusing ourselves in trying to evaluate ourselves by the righteous acts of Christ. Peter heard the call and thought he could answer it while no one else could. Ask yourselves if this might be the issue here at stake, and in this process could we be embracing what Peter had such a hard time distancing himself from...and that is the Law as we read in Galations that he was drawn away by it again. By whom?

Old Jewish buddies. Made sense to him at the time.

Would you consider the damage done to others in this quest?
I am going to post something from Tozer in the next comment. Would you consider it?

Rest in Calvary guys and find your Joy in the resurrection. The Joy of the Lord should be our strength.


There is not one righteous work of mine that is required to enter Heaven. Grace alone. Plus nothing...minus nothing. If you look up the greek word for grace, you will see that it is a gift given without anything expected in return. Otherwise it wouldn't be a gift and then I wouldn't be able to cherish it so. It would be an indian gift and that would make God an Indian giver.

Bhedr said...

"An earnest Christian woman sought help from Henry Suso concerning her spiritual life. She had been imposing rigid austerities upon herself in an effort to feel the sufferings that Christ felt on the cross. Things weren't going so well with her and Suso knew why.

That old saint wrote his spiritual daughter and reminded her that our Lord had not said, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up *my* cross, and follow me.' He said 'Let him...take up *his* cross.' There is a differance of only one small pronoun; but that differance is vast and important.

Crosses are all alike, but no two are identical. Never before nor since has there been a cross-experience just like that endured by the Saviour. The whole dreadful work of dying which Christ suffered was something unique in the experience of mankind. It had to be so if the cross was to mean life for the world. The sin-bearing, the darkness, the rejection by the Father were agonies peculiar to the Person of the Holy Sacrifice. To claim any experience remotely like that of Christ would be more thatn an error; it would be sacrilege.
Every cross was and is an instrument of death, but now man could die on the cross of another; each man died on his own cross; hence Jesus said, "Let him...take up *his* cross, and follow me."

Now there is a real sense in which the cross of Christ embraces all crosses and the death of Christ encompasses all deaths. "If one died for all, then all were dead"..."I am crucified with Christ"..."The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." This is the judicial working of God in redemption. The Christian as a member of the body of Christ is crucified along with his divine Head. Before God every true believer is reckoned to have died when Christ died. All subsequent experience of personal crucifixion is based upon the identification whith Christ on the cross.

But in the practical, everyday outworking of the believer's crucifixion his own cross is brought into play. "Let him take up his cross." That is obviously not the cross of Christ. Rather it is the believers own personal cross by means of which the cross of Christ is made effective in slaying his evil nature and setting him free from its power.

The believers own cross is one he has assumed *voluntarily*. Therein lies the differance between his cross and the cross on which Roman convicts died. They went to the cross against their will; he because he chooses to do so. No Roman officer ever pointed to a cross and said, "If any man will, let him." Only Christ said that, and by saying He placed the whole matter in the Hands of the Christian. He can refuse to take his cross, or he can stoop and take it up and start for that dark hill. The differance between great sainthood and spiritual mediocrity depends upon which choice he makes.

To go along with Christ step by step and point by point in identical suffering of Roman Crucifixion is not possible for any of us, and certainley not intended by our Lord. What He does intend is that each of us should count himself dead indeed with Christ, and then accept willingly whatever of self-denial, repentance, humility and humble sacrifice that may be found in the path of obedient daily living. That is his cross, and it is the only one the Lord has invited him to bear." - AW Tozer from Treasurey of Tozer.

Please...before you dismiss this as comming from left field...please consider as Gods people need to be freed by God's once for all sacrifice and not enslaved to measuring their lives by His obedience.

Ask yourselves if maybe you have been demanding this of yourself as you too need to be freed of it. It is a hard burden that none of us can bear. Only He could.

Steve Sensenig said...

Steve Camp, I do appreciate what you're trying to do here. At the same time, I can see why Terry is frustrated. To be honest, I'm a bit frustrated, too. Please bear with me as I try to explain.

As an example, in part of your response to the Scripture Terry gave about the "one act", you wrote:

BUT this one act of righteousness is comprised of several things--not just one thing.

This is where some of us have trouble. How many sins did Adam have to commit for sin to be imputed to us? Answer: one. It was one act. And that's the parallel being drawn in Scripture as to the "one act" of Christ.

But when you take a clear word in Scripture ("one") and say that it really is comprised of "several" things, it seems you have some 'splainin' to do! :)

On the one hand, you say that your point "represents a vast amount of scriptural truth". But then you reference verses that either don't talk about imputation (just refer to Christ being sinless) or, as in the above example, actually seem to say the opposite of what you say it says.

This seems to be the cause of some of the frustration -- or at least it is for me.

Steve, I think very highly of you. I can tell that you are a man who is very passionate about the Scriptures. I remember seeing you in concert at Philadelphia College of Bible many years ago, and you preached for about 90 minutes in that concert, if I remember correctly. So, obviously, you care about proclaiming the Word. I applaud that!! :)

But it is hard for me to understand (and this is how I feel about a lot of theologians, past and present) how it is acceptable to take a word or phrase such as "one act" (or "all", if you are keeping up with Frank Turk's latest debate!) and say that it really means something other than what it says.

Terry's point about confessions, creeds, and historical teachers/preachers/authors is a concern that I share.

When Martin Luther stood up and began speaking his reforming beliefs, it seems pretty logical to assume that some would have asked him, "How can you question centuries of teaching?" (except they would have said it in Latin or German!) ;)

Now, I'm certainly not saying that I, or Terry, or anyone else are necessarily a modern-day Luther. But I do think that it would be a much stronger argument to go with Scripture as your primary, if not only, basis. Many of the statements you quote do not give Scriptural evidence, but just make the claim that Scripture teaches it.

This can be (although not necessarily) dangerous at times. Because what can happen is that people just pass the thought along without checking it.

For example, if you read John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Dwight Pentecost, and others on the pre-trib rapture position (as I did both at PCB [now PBU] and Dallas Theological Seminary), they all support their positions with a little Scripture, and a lot of quoting each other.

Now whether or not you believe the pre-trib rapture is not the issue here. But what I'm saying is, by quoting each other in a circular fashion, their argument gets weaker -- whether or not their point is valid.

Likewise, I am very open to your points here. But if the most-quoted arguments have more to do with what a particular Reformer or group of Reformers said about a passage (or even just about the topic in general, without referencing Scripture), that gives reason (for those of us who are looking to be convinced) for a bit of pause.

Please understand my spirit in writing this. You say that this is a very essential and important doctrine for us to believe. Fair enough. Then, Scripture will likely be very plain and clear on it. And you won't have to redefine words in order to make the doctrine fit.

For example, someone here (perhaps you...there's a lot to keep up with here!) mentioned double imputation. Our sin was imputed to Christ, and His righteousness was imputed to us. OK, great point. Scripture tells us that "He Who knew no sin became sin for us."

So was Christ "sin" His entire earthly life? I know of no one who believes that. Christ became sin on the cross. So, that would be one argument in favor of the idea that the work on the cross was the "one act" in which the double imputation took place.

I don't expect anybody to really change positions on this. But I do feel like there is strength on both sides of the debate, and I think that has to be considered. Historical precedent in itself is not a strong argument, in my mind, on issues which are not clearly stated (not derived from, but clearly stated) in Scripture.

If the confessions are not inspired Scripture (and I know of no one who claims that they are), and if sola scriptura means that Scripture is sufficient for showing us how to live, then it really stands to reason that one should be able to argue their position solely from Scripture. Certainly one can reference what someone else says about a passage of Scripture, but that in and of itself should not bear nearly as much weight in a debate such as this as Scripture speaking for itself.

Does any of that make sense? I'm sorry for the length, Steve, and feel free to delete this comment or edit it if you feel that it doesn't add much to the discussion.

I just hoped to add another calm voice to the discussion at hand and see if maybe it wouldn't be possible to draw a balance here.

I firmly believe that the sinlessness of Christ is incredibly important as a belief in and of itself. As to what role it plays in the imputation of righteousness, I'm honestly not sure at this point. I tend to lean toward the views Terry has presented, but I'm open to understanding other viewpoints. I don't see why it is such an absolutely essential doctrine, as you seem to be saying. If I can grasp that, it might make a big difference.

In love and with a spirit of peace,
steve :)

Dennis Swanson said...

You are certainly free to use my name so useless speculation about the excellent New Testament scholar at Souther Baptist Theological Seminary, Mark Seifrid; and my friend and colleague at Master's Seminary, Andrew Snider, can stop and they are not slandered. Read all about me at www.narnia3.com

SJ Camp said...

Welcome to CampOnThis.

In response to your comment:

1. No one has slandered anyone here brother--we don't engage in that sort of thing and I do resent the implication. Good vigorous discussion is necessary and encouraged on issues like this one. One thing I don't allow here is what I call: "Drive-by posting." You know what this is: posting a comment of strong theological content, but then never answering legitimate questions others will ask in challenging that theological content. We demonstrate more respect for people than that.

2. Contrary to what you've implied, you are not the focus nor the issue here--the issue of the active and passive obedience of Christ in imputation is the issue. As you know, both Mark and Andrew have written a book and a paper, respectively, that have had less than favorable response from many well respected men from around the country.

Dr. James White dealt very sufficiently and with Christian charity in his dialogue with Seifrid; I am not certain who Andrew has publicly interacted with on this issue other than presenting his paper at ETS a few years ago.

3. I believe that the root issue for both you and Andrew, is really that of fear and dislike of Covenant Theology.

4. Lastly, you are welcome to comment here any time you desire. And the invitation I made to you last week remains open if you choose to present an article supporting your views in denying the essential doctrine of Christ's active and passive obedience in imputation.

Unitl then, I remain
Yours for the Master's use,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Uncialman said...


Brother, I would kindly ask for you to read over Steve Camp's original posts on this issue. I believe that you have completely misunderstood the issue after reading many of Terry's posts and some others here that are similarly confused.


Welcome to the conversation; that is, if you wish to join in the conversation. However, I would agree with the earlier comment (where have you gone to jkreuger?)that Seifrid's position on imputation and his defense thereof were "obliderated" in his exchange with Dr. White. I believe that the entire saga with Seifrid (no pun intended) is available on the Alpha and Omega site.

In terms of Mr. Snider's position, I believe that Steve Camp has correctly identified the motivations for creating this particular view of his ex nihilo. I would take it that you are aware that Snider's position is 180 degrees opposite from Dr. John MacArthur's exegetical and historically founded position on imputation?

MarieP said...

Campi, thank you so much for your recent blogs! I agree that this is an issue worth defending. What other hope do we have except that Christ fulfilled the law perfectly on behalf of His sheep, and that His righteousness is imputed to us!

A question to those who would deny Christ's active obedience: If Christ's life did nothing towards the righteousness imputed to us, then how is the law really fulfilled? Doesn't the law not only require not doing sin ("do not steal...") but also require doing good ("love the Lord thy God...")? And are we not lacking in original righteousness? Isn't our own righteousness as a filthy garment before God?

MarieP said...

Joseph said:

"(By the way the Catholics do hold to life and words of Jesus being of salvific worth, check the catachism for verification.)"

And mass and purgatory and baptism, etc...What exactly is your point here? The Roman Catholic view of justification is grossly unbiblical, thus their gospel cannot save.

"The big Reformed names are no real benefit to the discussion. They are in error in many lessor doctrinal mysteries, so why would they have great force in this most awesome of truths?"

Huh? Please explain to me why that is a valid statement. I, as a Reformed Baptist, have much more in common with a (non-Auburnite, non-NPP) PCA member, for instance, than I would with an Arminian Southern Baptist. Or are you trying to be sarcastic, to which I ask "what's your point exactly"?


MarieP said...

Her is the link to that page on Dr. White's site that deals with the Seifrid situation:


Terry Rayburn said...

I've been absent awhile, first from busyness, then from taking Campi up on thoroughly reading the Owen treatise (too convoluted and based on circular assumptions, not Scripture).

Campi wrote: "You are a dear brother in the Lord and I appreciate you greatly."

Likewise, my friend.

Campi wrote: “...in all our discussion so far, nowhere have you demonstrated that Christ's inherent righteousness by virtue of His nature from all eternity past, is the righteousness that is imputed to us in justification."

I rejoice that in this statement, you are at least giving evidence that you understand what I am saying about the righteousness of Christ which is imputed to us. It is eternal and didn't have to be "achieved" as the 1999 gospel Affirmation incorrectly puts it (Affirmation #13).

In other words, although it's absurd to envision Christ dying for us as an infant -- because God had many other plans and purposes for His life -- yet He was just as righteous then, as at age 33. He was just as much in right standing with His Father, and just as sinless, both as God and man.

After all, it was the "lambs", not the “sheep”, slain for atonement under the Old Covenant, having been BORN qualified (without spot or blemish). And it was the Lamb of God who was slain for justification and redemption under the New Covenant, having been BORN qualified (without spot or blemish).

I think it can readily be demonstrated that it's that eternal righteousness (not some "achieved-by-obedience" variety) which is imputed to us in justification for at least two reasons:

1. "Christ's" righteousness is virtually interchangeable with “God’s” righteousness.

Rom. 1:17, ”For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…”

Rom. 10:3, ”For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”

2 Pet. 1:1, …by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Was God’s righteousness eternal, or did it need to be achieved? Surely, eternal. And it’s this righteousness which is referred to as a GIFT in Rom. 5:17, “the gift of righteousness…through the One, Jesus Christ.”

2. There are no scriptures that indicate that Jesus
a. was ever NOT righteous
b. ever BECAME righteous
c. ever GREW in righteousness
d. was ever anything BUT righteous.

So whatever purposes there were in Christ’s fulfilling the Law, which He certainly did, it clearly WAS NOT to “achieve” righteousness.

The more I think about it, in light of scripture, the more I think that the 13th Affirmation of the 1999 Gospel Affirmation borders on blasphemy. It is as follows:

13. “We affirm that the righteousness of Christ by which we are justified is properly His own, which he achieved apart from us, in and by His perfect obedience.”

To say that Christ “achieved” righteousness, for which the Committee, of course, gives no scripture, implies that He was either unrighteous before His birth, or born unrighteous.

I would love to pose the following question to the signers of the 1999 Affirmation:

“Do you think that Christ had to achieve His righteousness, or that it was inherent in Him always, eternally as God, and from conception as man?

I would wager that 75% of them, having not been tipped off to their inconsistency, would answer, “Righteousness was inherent in Him always, eternally as God, and from conception as man.”

And they would be correct, and therefore have wrongly signed the Affirmation.


isaiah543 said...

I posted this a few days ago on Calvinist Gadfly before I discovered the conversation was taking place over here...

"I don’t know who we’re talking about, but I think it is at least possible that we are being excessively censorious. I believe it’s possible to deny a distinction between active and passive righteousness without completely denying imputation. I think that some reformed theologians (I’m a reformed baptist, by the way) want to safeguard the glory of the cross by saying that on the cross alone Jesus accomplished our righteousness. The active obedience imputed to me was Jesus obeying the Father by going to the cross, not Jesus obeying the Father when he was eleven years old. I personally lean toward the view that says that the whole obedience of his whole life is imputed to me. I’m just saying that if one decided that the active obedience of Christ was restricted to his active obedience on the cross, that wouldn’t by itself make one a heretic."


Michele Rayburn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nick said...

Oh I wish I wasn't so late to the party! Anyway, just so people know, Terry is not some nut job modern day liberal in his views of denying the active obedience of Christ.

It turns out, the Westminster Confession teaching on Justification was actually drawn up as a COMPROMISE between a Majority Camp (who affirmed Active obedience) and a Minority Camp (who denied it). The Confession was deliberately written vaguely enough that both views were acceptable. (see link at the end of this post)

It needs to be REITERATED that Terry AFFIRMS Christ's Righteousness is Imputed to the Believer by Faith Alone.
Also, his side AFFIRMS Christ lived a holy and righteous life, keeping all the commandments.

What his side REJECTS is that Christ keeping of the whole law perfectly was done FOR US and IN OUR PLACE...IN SO FAR AS it needed to be part of "Christ's Righteousness" which is imptued. In otherwords, Christ's Righteousness imputed - what man needs for justification - ONLY requires His so called "Passive obedience."

The strength of Terry's argument is the fact the Bible always links justification to Christ's death WHILE nowhere clearly teaches Christ kept the law IN OUR PLACE, and in fact the Bible flatly contradicts it (eg when it says the Law never could save in the first place, eg Gal 3:15-18).

The weakness of Terry's position is the question of what kept Adam from being justified? Terry's position cannot answer this because Adam obviously had no sin yet perfect law keeping is not what justification is based off of.

Where do I stand? I'm a Catholic who has studied the classical "Majority View" for a while now, and I believe it's the only way to preserve Sola Fide as the Reformers intended it. That said, the Minority View argues an important point, and that is the Scriptures never teach Christ kept the Law in our place. It's a critical issue in the Sola Fide foundation, but is astonishingly absent from the Bible.

You guys might want to have a look at this link: