Sunday, September 02, 2007
Distinction between Justification and Sanctification
Paul Helm has a good post on Calvin's Stroke of Genius in articulating the Reformed distinction between justification and sanctification. I agree with the distinction, and I think it is impossible to explain the charge of antinomianism that Paul had to respond to (Rom. 3.7-8; Acts 21.21; Jas. 2.14-26) if he was merging sanctification and justification.
But a larger problem that looms on the Reformed side is how one integrates eschatology into their understanding of justification and sanctification. Calvin never covered this point as far as I can tell, and I have noticed a number of Reformed authors implying or insisting that to attribute to justification a not-yet or future element is tantamount to embracing a Tridentine view of justification. However, I submit that justification has a future element (see Rom. 2.13-16, 10.9-10, Gal. 5.5, etc) and many commentators such as G.Vos, G.E. Ladd, H. Ridderbos, and L. Morris have appropriately articulated it. I think there is fundamental misunderstanding in some circles that to postulate a future or not-yet dimension to justification is to engage in a double-justification - one by faith and another by works (as Martin Bucer held) - or to see justification as a process of becoming just (e.g. Trent). But this is hardly a necessary corollary; eschatology pervades the entire matrix of Paul's theology, ethics, and view of ministry. It is not to be feared or explained away.