Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review of Introducing Paul by Guy Waters

Over at Reformation21, Guy Waters of RTS has a review of my book Introducing Paul. I think it is a very fair review but with expected points of contention over "incorporated righteousness" vis-a-vis "imputed righteousness". There were some pointed questions by Waters and I appreciate that he has taken the time to understand what I was trying to say. He observes correctly that what I'm putting forward is not quite the standard Reformed view, but nor am I in the N.T. Wright camp. Waters raises a good question about what is the "righteousness" that believers are incorporated into or have imputed to them. Now I'm 100% convinced that it is not the merit of Jesus or his entire life of obedience. I've just gone and read again over Romans 5 and I see how people can think that, but it is clear that this is not explicitly said in the text. Jesus' "one act of righteousness" results in justification, but the one act of righteousness is not something that is imputed as the grounds of justification (Rom 5.18-19). My advice here is to look at the meaning of "righteousness" in 5.17 and 21 before going into 5.18-17. In Rom. 5.17, 21, righteousness refers to a salvific status not to a substance or merits that can be infused/imputed (delete as preferred). It is thereafter that we see in Rom. 5.18-19 that Jesus' act of righteousness (i.e., his sacrificial death) leads to justification and by his obedience believers will (note future tense) be righteous at the final day. Yet there is no explicit statement of imputation here and the righteousness in 5.19 might be transformative as well as forensic (see Schreiner's Romans commentary on this which is particularly helpful). I have a little rhyme: "No matter how much may people try, kathistemi does not mean logizomai." So Depending on the context of Romans 3-5, I think "righteousness" can refer to (1) The status of being righteous, (2) Deemed to have fulfilled a covenant relationship, or (3) Salvation generally. I think we are incorporated into the status that the Father gives to his Son in the resurrection (i.e., a verdict of righteous). Then by virtue of union with him we also share by implication in his faithfulness that was the basis of his vindication. So what is true of the Messiah is now reckoned to be true of the people of God. It is this implication that I think makes imputation legitimate. If we are in Christ than what is true of him is true of us, including the faithful execution of his messianic vocation as the second Adam, Son of God, and true Israel.


pennoyer said...

I've bookmarked your comment because I think it is worth returning to for careful consideration.

Partly formulated thought: Could some of this depend on whether we are looking at salvation as "us being in Christ" or, alternatively as "Christ being in us"? The latter might be more compatible with the concept of imputation.

David Reimer said...

Dunno about that rhyme. Doesn't scan very well, does it? How about this:

A Neutestamentler named Bird
Was apalled to see some meanings blurred:
"To think you can try
to change logizomai
To kathistemi is quite absurd!"

(Maybe no improvement! :)

howardpetts said...

It might be my lack of brainpower, but you're argument doesn't make sense (and I've read it through repeatedly)... I looked up Moo on Romans 5.18-19 and he supports imputed righteousness. Your rhyme is also plainly self evident - they are not the same word! - but that does not mean that kathistemi cannot be used in the sense of 'make, appoint' (BDAG)and hence support the doctrine of imputed rightesouness 'we are made righteous!'.... Perhaps you could try restating your argument so I (others?!) could follow...

John Thomson said...

I think Michael has almost got it right. In his heart he recognises transferred righteousness is simply not in the bible and not how the bible construes our righteousness in Christ. I wonder how far being presbyterian makes it impossible to completely break the umbilical cord with IAO.

Let me be mischievous - Moo may see IAO in Roms 5 but where does Paul give him reason to do so? Up until Roms 5 Paul has unambiguously located his saving righteousness in the death of Christ (Roms 3:20-25) and the resurrection of Christ (Roms 4:25). He brings these together in Roms 5

Rom 5:8-10 (ESV)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

The death and resurrected life of Christ are the location of righteousness and salvation.

Christ's 'one act of righteousness' must be read against its hinterland.

IAO is an assumption without an anchor, a tenet without a text.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Michael. I think I agree with pretty much everything you said there. Especially "I think we are incorporated into the status that the Father gives to his Son in the resurrection (i.e., a verdict of righteous)." This defintely comports well with the end of Romans 4 "It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord; who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (dikiasyne/righteousness).

I come from a Reformed background where the traditional understanding of imputation is something in solid stone. And most of the my Reformed brothers have taken away all of the chiseling instruments, never to be found again. Your articulation of this precious/crucial theme is refreshing and quite biblical. Thank you for being faithful to the bible and not the "traditions of men."

-Seth Odom