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§ 11. Modern Views on Justification.

Rationalistic Theories.

These cannot be given in detail. Certain classes of opinions can be referred to only in the briefest manner. The Rationalists were divided into two classes; first, those who regarded the Scriptures as a supernatural revelation of natural religion, or of the truths of reason; and secondly, those who denied the supernatural origin of the Scriptures altogether, assigning to them no higher authority than belongs to the writings of good and wise men.

The former class came to agree very nearly with the latter as to what the Bible actually teaches, or, at least, as to what is by us to be regarded and received as true. Those who admitted the divine origin of the Scriptures got rid of its distinctive doctrines by the adoption of a low theory of inspiration, and by the application of arbitrary principles of interpretation. Inspiration was, in the first instance, confined to the religious teachings of the Bible, then to the ideas or truths, but not to the form in which they were presented, nor to the arguments by which they were supported. The fact that Christ saves men in some way was admitted, but not as a sacrifice nor as a ransom, nor by being a 196substitute for sinners. The miracles of Christ were acknowledged as historical facts, but they were explained as mere natural events distorted by the imaginations of spectators and historians. It was granted by some that Christ and the Apostles did teach the Church doctrines, but this, it was said, was done only by way of accommodation to the prejudices, superstitions, or modes of thought of the men of that generation. The first step in this process was the denial of all distinction between the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of Christ. In this way a wet sponge was passed over all the doctrines of redemption, and their outlines obliterated. This unnatural process could not be long continued, and, therefore, the majority of Rationalists soon threw off all regard to the normal authority of the Bible, and avowed their faith in nothing which did not commend itself to their own understanding as true, and for that reason alone.

As to the doctrine of justification, the whole tendency of the efforts during this period was, as Baur correctly says,204204Die Christliche Lehre von der Versöhnung, III. i. Tübingen, 1830, p. 565. to make the reconciliation of man to God the work of the man himself. “A man was entitled to regard himself as reconciled with God as soon as he determined to repent and to reform.” God was regarded as a father. A father is displeased with a son only so long as he is disobedient. The only end of any chastisement he may inflict, is the reformation of his child. If that be accomplished, all necessity and all propriety of punishment cease. Wegscheider, a representative of this class of theologians, says,205205Institutiones Theologiæ, III. ii. § 140, 5th edit. Halle, 1826, p. 438. Quicunque e vita turpi, qua pœnas sibi contraxit, ad virtutem emerserit, is eadem proportione, qua jam in virtutis studio progressus fuerit, in gratiam cum Deo reversus, ab eodem præmiis dignus judicabitur.

Philosophical Theories.

The philosophical theories on this subject were as different as the systems on which they were founded. Some of these systems were theistic, others pantheistic, and others monistic, i.e., founded “a the oneness of God and man, without denying the distinct personality of either.

The influence of Kant’s philosophy upon theology, for a time at least, was very great, and in some aspects salutary. As he exalted the power of the pure reason, making it give law to the outward, subordinating, as his disciples say, the objective to the 197subjective, so in the sphere of religion and morality he exalted the power and authority of the practical reason. Everything was subordinate to moral excellence. Happiness was not the end. It was only a means of promoting and rewarding what is morally good. The attainment of the highest amount of moral excellence requires perfect harmony between happiness and goodness, that is, that rational creatures should be happy in exact proportion to their goodness, and miserable in proportion as they are wicked. The punishment of sin is therefore inevitable. It is determined by the immutable moral order of the universe, which can no more be changed or set aside than any physical law on which the existence or order of the external world depends.

From these principles some of the Kantian theologians inferred that the pardon of sin is impossible. Misery is as inseparable from sin as pain is from the laceration of the body. If the only punishment of sin, however, be its natural consequences, then the removal of sin effects the removal of punishment. This determines the view which many of the disciples of Kant take of the nature of redemption. It is purely subjective. Men are delivered from sin and thereby from its punishment.

To others, however, this view was unsatisfactory, (1.) Because the punishment of sin is not purely or exclusively natural. It is not so even in this world, as is proved by the deluge, by the destruction of the cities of the plain, and by a thousand other instances. Much less is it true with regard to the future world. Conscience is not the only worm that never dies, or remorse the only fire which is never quenched. (2.) Because this theory reverses the natural order of events. It makes reformation precede pardon, whereas pardon must precede reformation. On this point Bretschneider206206Dogmatik, § 159, 3d edit. Leipzig, vol. II. p. 320, note. quotes even Ewald207207Die Religionslehren der Bibel, II. v. zu nro. 27; Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1812, vol. ii. p. 149. as saying, “It is as unpsychological as it is unchristian so to present Christian reformation, that a man must become better before he is forgiven. It is precisely through the love of God anticipating our reformation, by which the man morally dead is quickened, that the elements of all religion, gratitude, trust, and love are called into exercise.” This is certainly Paul’s doctrine. (3.) The theory in question overlooks guilt, responsibility to justice for sins already committed. (4.) The ends of punishment (according to the Kantians) are, first, the satisfaction of the moral excellence of God, who by necessity of his moral perfection must punish sin; secondly, 198the improvement of the offender; and thirdly, the upholding the moral order of the universe. The two former of these ends, Bretschneider says, may be answered by the reformation of the sinner. When a man ceases to sin, he ceases to be opposed to God, and God ceases to be opposed to him. But the third end of punishment, namely, preserving the moral order of the universe, is not answered by the sinner’s reformation. He is not the only person to be considered. The interests of morality would suffer, if he were rendered happy notwithstanding his past transgression. The question then is, is there any way in which the authority of the moral law can be sustained, and yet the sinner be forgiven and rendered blessed? The Church answer to this question, the disciples of Kant reject as contrary to reason; but reason, says Bretschneider, has nothing to object to the doctrine stated generally that God can consistently pardon sin for Christ’s sake. He sums up under the following heads, what reason may accept in regard to this whole subject. (1.) That the divine nature of Christ rendered his sufferings more important for the spiritual world and more available for man than they otherwise would have been. (2.) We cannot properly say that He suffered the penalty of the law, or the punishment of our sins, but that He endured his unmerited sufferings for the good of the world. (3.) That He did not make satisfaction for sin, but rendered secure the moral order of the universe. (4.) Although He did not make satisfaction, He procured or mediated our pardon. He is not our sponsor, but our “mediator salutis.” (5.) The expression “the merit of Christ” does not mean any good imputed to us, or any title belonging to us, but simply the claim of Christ that his sufferings shall avail to the good of men. (6.) The word “reconciliation” is anthropopathic. It does not express any change in God; but either objectively the possibility of pardon, or subjectively the hope of pardon. (7.) “To impute the merit of Christ” does not mean that God regards Christ’s obedience as our obedience, or his sufferings as our punishment, but simply that, through love, God has determined to render his sufferings available for the good of men. (8.) That Christ’s death was vicarious in so far that in consequence thereof sin may be pardoned in the renewed. (9.) Justification is the application to individuals of the general declaration of God that He will save all who strive to reform. This is the highest form in which theologians regarded as rationalistic are willing to receive the doctrines of atonement and justification.


Speculative Theologians.

The views of the speculative theologians on these points have already been presented in the chapters on the person of Christ and on his work, as fully as is proper in such a work as this.

However much this class of theologians may differ as to their philosophical principles, or as to the length to which they carry those principles in their explanation of Christian doctrine, they agree, first, in rejecting the Church view of the plan of salvation; they deny that Christ obeyed the law and bore its penalty vicariously, or as the substitute of sinners; they deny that his righteousness is imputed to the believer as the ground of his justification; they deny that saving faith consists in receiving and resting on the righteousness of Christ as something objective; they deny that justification is a forensic or judicial act in which God pronounces the sinner just, not on the ground of his subjective state or character, but on the ground of what Christ has done for him. All this they pronounce mechanical, external, magical, unreal, and unsatisfactory. On the other hand, they agree in representing justification as an act by which the sinner is made inherently or subjectively just; and consequently that his acceptance with God, and his title to eternal life, are founded on what he is; they agree in regarding faith as that state of mind which renders the sinner receptive of the infusion of whatever it is that renders him thus subjectively righteous in the sight of God. What that is, is the main point on which their representations differ. Those who regard man as only a form of the manifestation of God, say that one man’s being justified and not another, means that God is more fully developed in the one than in the other; or that the one realizes more truly the idea of man than the other; and this, after all, consists in one’s coming to the consciousness of his oneness with God, which others have not attained. “The most universal and essential idea of redemption and reconciliation is man’s becoming one with God. The necessary objective assumption, on which alone the individual can be one with God, or redeemed and reconciled, is the truth, that man as such is one with God (dass der Mensch an sich mit Gott Eins ist).”208208Baur, Die Christliche Lehre von der Versöhnung, Tübingen, 1830, p. 628. This, according to one view, is an eternal process; God is ever becoming man, and man is ever returning into God. According to Schleiermacher, as already repeatedly stated, this manifestation of God in man was hindered and could never become perfect by a process 200of natural development; and, therefore, by a new creative act Christ was produced, in whom the idea of man was fully realized, or in whom the oneness of God and man was clearly exhibited, and from Him a new process of development commenced as perfectly natural as the process before his advent, and the redemption of man consists in the communication of the sinlessness and blessedness of Christ to the individual. This is expressed commonly by saying that the life of Christ, — not the Holy Spirit as derived from Him; not his divine nature; not his humanity; but his divine-human life, — is communicated to the Church and to all its members. In other words, as Christ is God in human form, so is every believer. The incarnation goes forward in the Church. In the language of the older mystics, what is communicated is “the essential righteousness of God,” or “the essence of God,” the life of God, or God Himself.

According to this view the objective work of Christ, what He did and suffered is of no avail for us; it is not that which makes us righteous, or by which we are redeemed. Redemption and reconciliation are a purely subjective process; something which takes place in the sinner’s own soul, and not something which was done for him. It matters little whether there was a historical Christ or not; or, at least, whether the facts recorded of Him be true or untrue; whether the Gospels are historical or mythical.

According to another view, the work of Christ was in no sense a satisfaction to divine justice; neither his obedience nor his suffering was designed to be set over to his people with its merit, as the ground of their justification. The Word became flesh. He assumed our fallen humanity into personal union with Himself. This necessitated conflict and suffering as the only way in which the new life could triumph over the law of sin and death which belonged to our fallen humanity. This was the atonement of Christ, the triumph of health over disease. This was the victory of Christ over sin and hell. Thus He becomes the author of salvation to men. Humanity in Christ suffered and died, and rose again. That humanity is our nature. It is that which constitutes us what we are. By union with the Church, which is the body of Christ animated by his theanthropic nature or life, we become one with Him. What is communicated to us is not his merit, nor his Spirit, but his essence, his substance, his life. There is no dualism between the soul and body. They are one life. The soul externalizes itself in the body, they are 201one. So there is no dualism in Christ; not a divine and human substance; not a divine and human life; but one life which is simply and purely human and yet divine; for God and man are one; and humanity reaches its completion only when thus identified with the divine. This divine-human life passes over from Christ to the Church; and this takes place in the way of history, growth, and development. Partaking thus of the life of Christ, we partake of its righteousness, its holiness, and its glory. Thus redemption is purely subjective. It is wrought in us, although the source is without us. As we partake of Adam’s sin and condemnation, because we partake of his nature; so we partake of Christ’s righteousness and holiness because we partake of his divine-human life, or of humanity as healed and exalted in Him.209209See Mystical Presence, by John W. Nevin, D. D.; Morell’s Philosophy of Religion, and Princeton Review, April, 1848.

Ebrard of Erlangen.

There is an important class of modern theological writers, of whom Dr. J. H. A. Ebrard of Erlangen may be taken as a representative, who consider themselves faithful to the doctrines of the Reformation, while developing them into new forms. As Ebrard represents this class of writers among the Reformed, so Delitzsch does the same for the Lutheran theologians. These writers are abundantly orthodox in their exposition of the nature of Christ’s work. This is especially true of Delitzsch in his admirable treatise on “The Vicarious Satisfaction of Christ.”210210Ueber den festen Schriftgrund der Kirchenlehre von der stellvertretenden Genugthuung, printed as a second Appendix to his elaborate commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. As these writers identify regeneration and justification, their views may be found briefly stated in the chapter on regeneration.

Christ, it is admitted, made expiation for sin and satisfied the justice of God as our substitute by his vicarious obedience and sufferings. This righteousness, however, becomes ours not by being received by faith and imputed to us by the just judgment of God, but by regeneration, whereby we become partakers of the life, substance, or essence, however it may be designated, of Christ. On this subject Ebrard says: “Regeneration is the substantial objective ground both of the transient act of justification, and of the progressive work of sanctification; whereas conversion (repentance and faith) is the subjective condition of both. And justification as the act of the Father, is a forensic judicial act; as the act of Christ, it is identical with regeneration, 202i.e., with the real implantation of Christ in us and of us in Christ.” Both propositions, therefore, he says, are equally true, namely, “Christ justifies us; and faith justifies us.” In explaining this, he says: “Δίκαιος before God is one who does not merit punishment; who is free from guilt in the sight of God’s eternal law, either because he is absolutely sinless, or holy, never having contracted guilt, as in the case of Christ; or because his guilt has been expiated, and his lack of the righteousness demanded by the law is covered. Δικαοῦν means either to acknowledge as δίκαιος one who is δίκαιος or to make δίκαιος one who is not δίκαιος.” The latter is its sense when used in reference to sinners. In their case, “The act of δικαίωσις consists, (1.) In the gift of the expiation (Sühne) made by Christ without the sinner’s coöperation; and (2.) In the gift of the absolute righteousness of Christ, in such sense that God does not regard the sinner as he is by nature, and by self-development, but as he is as implanted in Christ.” There is, therefore, a clear distinction to be made between the appropriation of righteousness, and the procuring of righteousness. “Christ has procured and merited (erworben hat) righteousness by his historical life and sufferings; it is applied by Christ’s being born in us.” “The Scriptures,” he says, “do not speak of Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us. They teach that it comes upon us (Rom. v. 18), and becomes our own. It is our own, however, because the person of Christ becomes ours in the strictest possible (allerrealsten, the most literal) sense of the terms.” What Ebrard contends for is (die substantielle Lebenseinheit mit der Person Christi), the substantial oneness of life with Christ;211211Christliche Dogmatik, II. i. 2, § 443; Königsberg, 1852, vol. ii. pp. 311, 312, 314. or as he often elsewhere expresses it, “the mysterious, mystical communication of the substance of Christ to the central substance of man.”212212Ibid. p. 310. Dr. Alexander Schweizer of Zürich,213213Glaubenslehre, Zürich, 1847, vol. ii. p. 335. although differing much in other points from Ebrard, agrees with him in this. The essential element in the work of Christ, he says, “is the founding and upholding a community animated or pervaded by his theanthropic life (gottmenschlichen Lebenspotenz). Dr. Nevin214214Mystical Presence, Philadelphia, 1846, pp. 200, 201. says, “Our nature reaches after a true and real union with the nature of God, as the necessary complement and consummation of its own life. The idea which it embodies can never be fully actualized, under any other form. The incarnation is the proper completion 203of humanity. Christ is the true ideal man.” “The incarnation was no mere theophany; no transient wonder; no illusion exhibited to the senses. . . . . The Word became flesh; not a single man only, as one among many; but ‘flesh,’ or humanity in its universal conception. How else could He be the principle of a general life, the origin of a new order of existence for the human world as such? How else could the value of his mediatorial work be made over to us in a real way, by a true imputation, and not a legal fiction only?”215215Mystical Presence, Philadelphia, 1846, pp. 210, 211. “Christianity is a life, not only as revealed at first in Christ, but as continued also in the Church. It flows over from Christ to his people, always in this form. They do not simply bear his name and acknowledge his doctrine. They are so united to Him as to have part in the substance of his life itself.”216216Ibid. p. 218. He had before said,217217Ibid. p. 165. that “by the hypostatical union of the two natures in the person of Jesus Christ, our humanity as fallen in Adam was exalted again to a new and imperishable divine life.” “The object of the incarnation was to couple the human nature in real union with the Logos, as a permanent source of life.” Again,218218Ibid. p. 167. “the new life of which Christ is the source and organic principle, is in all respects a true human life; . . . . . not a new humanity, wholly dissevered from that of Adam; but the humanity of Adam itself, only raised to a higher character, and filled with new meaning and power, by its union with the divine nature. . . . . Christ’s life, as now described, rests not in his separate person, but passes over to his people; thus constituting the Church, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” “Christ communicates his own life substantially to the soul on which He acts, causing it to grow into his very nature. This is the mystical union; the basis of our whole salvation; the only medium by which it is possible for us to have an interest in the grace of Christ under any other view.”219219Ibid. p. 168. With his substance, his life, his divine-human nature thus communicated to the soul come his merit, his holiness, his power, his glory. These are predicates of the nature which becomes ours, constituting our personal life and character. Even the resurrection is to be effected, not by the power of Christ operating “ab extra,” as when He raised Lazarus from the dead, but by “a new divine element, introduced into our nature by the incarnation.”220220Ibid. p. 226.


Objections to these Theories.

In opposition to these views it may be said very briefly in the way of recapitulation of what has been more fully said in the chapters above referred to, —

1. That this is a philosophy. The scheme has its entire basis in a philosophical theory as to the nature of man and his relation to God. This is undeniable, and is hardly denied. Dr. Nevin states three “scientific principles,” ignorance of which led the Reformers to a misapprehension and imperfect representation of Christianity, and the recognition of which and of their application to theology, enables the modern theologian to set forth the nature and plan of salvation in a much more satisfactory light. Those principles are, (1.) The true import of organic law. The Reformers did not make a clear distinction, he says, “between the idea of the organic law which constitutes the proper identity of a human body, and the material volume it is found to embrace as exhibited to the senses.” There may be, therefore, a real communication of Christ and even of his body to his people without a communication of his flesh. (2.) The absolute unity involved in personality. In the case of Christ, body, soul, and divinity are united in “a single indivisible life,” so that where the one is, all are. To communicate Christ to the soul is therefore to communicate that indivisible life, including in it as an organizing, organic principle, body, soul, and divinity. (3.) The distinction between individual and generic life. “In every sphere of life,” it is said, “the individual and the general are found closely united in the same subject.” The acorn, in one view, is only a single existence; but it includes the force of a life capable of reaching far beyond itself. The life of a forest of oaks is only the expansion of the life of the original acorn, “and the whole general existence thus produced is bound together, inwardly and organically, by as true and close a unity as that which holds in any of the single existences embraced in it, separately considered.” Thus also Adam, in one view, was a man; in another, he was the man. A whole world of separate personalities lay involved in his life, as a generic principle or root. “Adam lives in his posterity as truly as he has ever lived in his own person.” In like manner, although in a higher form, the life of Christ is to be viewed under the same twofold aspect In one view the Saviour was a man; but in another, He was the man, “the Son of man, in whose person stood revealed the true 205idea of humanity, under its ultimate and most comprehensive form. Without any loss or change of character in the first view, his life is carried over in this last view continually into the persons of his people. He lives in Himself, and yet lives in their really and truly at the same time.” As we participate in Adam’s whole nature, soul and body, so the people of Christ participate in his whole nature, body, soul, and divinity. These are one indivisible life; and that one theanthropic life is communicated to believers and constitutes them Christians. In this is included all their participation in the righteousness, merit, and glory of their Redeemer.221221See Mystical Presence, section first of the Scientific Statement.

Behind and under these three scientific principles there is another without which the three mentioned amount to nothing; namely, the unity of God and man. Man in his highest form; the ideal or perfect man; He in whom the idea of humanity is fully realized, is God. What does it amount to, if we admit that “organic law” constitutes identity, as in the case of man; or that personality includes the idea of “one indivisible life;” that in man there is not one life of the body and another of the soul, that these are only different manifestations of one and the same life; that the soul can no more be without the body than the body without the soul; and that in Christ there is not one life of the divinity and another of his humanity? Suppose we deny what the Church in all ages has affirmed, that there are two ἐνέργειαι in Christ, what does this amount to? Or what does it avail to admit the realistic doctrine of a generic life; if that life (one and indivisible) be merely human, Adamic? How can it redeem us? It is only on the assumption that the human and the divine are one, that this unity, fully realized in Christ, constitutes the “one indivisible life” which passes over to us; that it has any redeeming power; and that it exalts man from his degradation, and brings him back to conscious as well as real unity with God.

This theory as presented by Schleiermacher, its author in modern times, was undeniably pantheistic; as held by many of his disciples, it is, in their apprehension, theistic. In either form the leading idea of the identity of God and man is retained.222222See this clearly presented in Dr. Ullmann’s paper on “The Distinctive Character of Christianity,” in the Studien und Kritiken for January, 1845, translated by Dr. Nevin and prefixed as a Preliminary Essay to his work on The Mystical Presence. Christ is the ideal man. In Him the idea of humanity is fully realized. and therefore He is God. The manifestation of God in the form of man, belongs to the divine nature. The incarnation is entirely 206independent of the fall of man; or, admitting that the failure of the race to reach its true ideal in the first instance was the occasion of a new, special, and supernatural intervention, yet the whole end of that intervention was to realize the original idea of humanity as God made flesh.

The watchword of this whole system is, in the language of Dr. Ullmann, “The life of Christ is Christianity;” i.e., the one indivisible life of Christ; the life of God in the form of humanity. And that life as communicated to men brings them to this real, substantial life union with God. “What,” asks Dr. Ullmann, “is that in the personality of Christ by which He is constituted a perfect Saviour in the way of atonement and redemption? We reply generally, his own substantial nature, at once human and divine; his life filled with all the attributes of God, and representing at the same time the highest conception of nature and man; complete and self-sufficient in its own fulness, and yet by this fulness itself the free principle of a new corresponding life-process, in the way of self-communication, for the human world. This life itself, however, has again its central heart, to which especially we must look for the peculiar being of Christ. Here the whole theology of the present time, in all its different tendencies, may be said to have but one voice. That which constitutes the special being of Christ, makes Him to be what He is and gives Him thus his highest significance for the world, is the absolute unity of the divine and human in his nature. Deity and manhood in Him come fully together and are made one. This is the last ground of Christianity. Here above all we are to look for its distinctive character.” He goes on to show that on this point all are agreed. God and man are one. The difference is between the pantheistic and the Christian view which acknowledges a personal God and a positive revelation. “For the whole apprehension of Christianity, we may say, not only that much, but that all depends on the question, which of these views shall be adopted; whether this central fact shall be regarded as a general ‘unity of the divine and human’ realizing itself in the consciousness of the race as such, or be conceived of as a concrete ‘union of God and man,’ that actualizes itself from a definite point and only under certain moral conditions.”223223See Nevin’s Mystical Presence, pp. 27, 28, 29. That is, whether God is incarnate in the race or in the Church. According to the latter view, the life of Christ, his human life, “filled with all the attributes of God,” passes over to his people, by a process of natural 207development. As we are fallen men by partaking of the nature or generic life of Adam, we are God-men, and therefore redeemed by partaking of the divine human nature or generic life of Christ.

That the oneness of God and man is the ultimate principle on which this ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον rests, is obvious not only from the general character of the philosophy from which it is derived, but also from the fact that everything is made to depend upon the life of Christ becoming the life of his people, not by his controlling their life by his Spirit dwelling in them, but by a substantial union and identification of their life with his, of them with Him. We can measurably understand what is meant by life, by organic life, by a life principle or force which develops itself, and communicates and transmits itself in a given form. We know what is meant when it is said that the life of the acorn is developed into an oak, and communicated to other acorns, and thus to other oaks in endless succession and boundless multiplication. But here the essential idea is the unity and sameness of the life transmitted. You cannot combine the “organic law,” or life, of the apple with that of the acorn, so that the life transmitted should be “an acorn-apple-life.” Much less can you combine the organic life principle of an animal with that of the acorn, so as to produce an “acorn-bovine,” or, “an acorn-equine life.” Least of all can you combine the intellectual life of man with that of the oak, so as to have a “human-oak-life.” Therefore if the life of God and the life of man be so combined as to constitute one life and that a divine-human life, then God and man must be one; i.e., one substance, one life differently manifested. Those who press the modern doctrine of the correlation of forces to the extreme of making thought and gravity identical, may accept these conclusions. With them the universe and all it contains, all its physical, mental, æsthetic, moral, and religious phenomena are to be referred to one and the same force variously modified. The same force modified by the brain produces all the phenomena of mind; as modified by animal tissues, all the phenomena of animal life; and as modified by vegetable organisms all the phenomena of vegetable life, — a theory which has been annihilated as by a bolt from heaven by the single question. Where is the brain which elaborated the mind, which framed the universe?

It may indeed be said, and is said by modern theologians, that God became man, and therefore man may become God. God and man, they say, were so united as to become one nature or life in the person of Christ. But this is contrary to Scripture 208and to the faith of the Church universal. There is not a historical Church on earth, and never has been, whose creed does not teach that in the person of Christ two distinct natures or substances are united, that He was born, not merely “per,” but “ex matre sua Maria,” of her substance; that He is as man consubstantial with men, as God consubstantial with the Father; or as the Apostle expresses it, κατὰ σαρκά, He is the son of David, κατὰ πνεῦμα the Son of God. Humanity and divinity in Him are no more identified or reduced to one life, than soul and body in man are identified or reduced to one life.

This whole modern theory of the Gospel rests, therefore, ultimately on the idea of the identity of God and man; that man is a “modus existendi” of God.

The grand objection to this scheme is that it is a philosophy. It is a product of the human mind. It is the wisdom of the world. It is the recent philosophy of the speculative school of Germany, clothed in Biblical forms and phrases. The reason why the Reformers did not present the plan of salvation in this form, is declared to be that they were ignorant of modern philosophy. It is because Hegel thought that the Gospel admitted of being cast into the mould of his philosophy that he pronounced Christianity to be the absolute religion. All, therefore, that the Bible says of the “wisdom of the wise,” “of the wisdom of men,” of “the wisdom of the world,” of “philosophy as a vain deceit,” applies, and was intended to apply to this scheme and to all of like nature. “To the poor the gospel is preached.” The Gospel is designed for babes and sucklings. He that runs may read and understand it. This system not one man in ten thousand can understand.

These Theories Unscriptural.

2. The second great objection to this scheme is that it is unscriptural. The Bible tells us that Christ saves us as a priest. This a child can understand. He knows that a priest takes the place of those for whom he acts; that he approaches God in their behalf; that he makes expiation for sin; that he does what satisfies the demands of God’s justice against the sinner, so that He can be just and yet justify the ungodly. He knows that a priest saves, not by what he does in us, not by imparting his life to us, but by what he does for us; by an objective, and not by a subjective work. What there is of an inward work, and that is much and absolutely necessary, is not the work of a priest, under 209which aspect the work of Christ is so prominently presented in the Scriptures. Again, Christ saves us as a sacrifice; but a sacrifice is a substitute; it bears the sins of the offender; dies in his stead, and by its vicarious death delivers the offerer from the penalty which he had incurred. A sacrifice is not a symbol of an inward conflict between good and evil; its proximate design is not to effect a subjective change in the sinner; it does not produce or communicate a new principle of life, much less its own generic life to the offerer by which his real redemption is effected.

In like manner the Bible teaches that Christ gave Himself as a ransom for many. But a ransom is a price paid. Those delivered by it are bought. They are delivered by purchase. A ransom meets and satisfies the claims of a third party. This is its essential idea, and cannot be omitted without rejecting the very truth, which the Scriptures, in the use of the term, design to teach. This again is an objective work. It is something which the person redeemed neither does, nor inwardly experiences; but which is done for him and without him and not in him.

Moreover, the whole idea of redemption, the primary truth taught in setting forth Christ as a Redeemer, is that He delivers his people not by power, not by instruction, not by moral influence, not by any subjective change wrought in them, and not by any new form of life imparted to them, but by purchase. This is the signification and the meaning of the word. The words ἀπολύτρωσις, λυτροῦν, ἀγοράζειν, ἐξαγοράζειν, are never used in Scripture in reference to the work of Christ in any other sense than that of deliverance by purchase or payment of a ransom; and to substitute any other mode of deliverance, is to put man’s thoughts in the place of God’s truth; it is to substitute the human for the divine; the worthless for the priceless.

Moreover, Christ is constantly represented as a rock, a refuge, a hiding place. The duty required of sinners is trust; relying on Him and his work, as something out of themselves on which to place their hope toward God.

These Theories lead Men to trust to themselves.

3. This introduces the third great objection to this scheme. It makes redemption subjective. It is what we are; what we become; it is the Christ within us; the new heart, the new nature, the new life, the divine-human life of Christ, or whatever else it may be called, which is at once the ground of our justification and the source of sanctification. This is utterly inconsistent with 210the Bible, and with the experience of the people of God in all ages and under all dispensations. In no instance are believers represented as trusting to what is within them, but to what is without them. The Protestant doctrine, as we have seen, makes full provision for an inward work of deliverance from the power of sin, as well as for redemption from the curse of the law; for sanctification as well as for justification. But it does not confound the two, neither does it refer either or both to the new principle of life, the new seed or leaven implanted or inserted which works as “an organic law,” and by a regular process of development, as natural as the operation of any other law. The whole work of the Spirit is ignored in this new theory of redemption. What in the Bible is referred to the Spirit of God is, by the theologians of this class, referred to the “divine-human” nature of Christ. The latter, and not the former, is the proximate and efficient source of holiness of heart and life. “Christ,” says Dr. Nevin, “does dwell in us, by his Spirit; but only as his Spirit constitutes the very form and power of his own presence as the incarnate and everlasting Word.”224224Mystical Presence, pp. 197, 198. That is, the Spirit is the power of the incarnate Word, i.e., of the divine-human life of Christ. “The life,” he adds, “thus wrought in our souls by his agency, is not a production out of nothing, but the very life of Jesus Himself organically continued in this way over into our persons.” “It is with the mediatorial life of Christ that the Christian salvation, in the form now contemplated, is concerned. In this is comprehended the entire new creation revealed by the Gospel; the righteousness of Christ, and all the benefits He has procured for his people. But the mediatorial life, by the communication of which only all this grace is made to pass over to men, is one and undivided;” and this life, as he goes on to show, includes his body, soul, and divinity. To the same effect,225225Ibid. p. 228, note. it is said, “That the whole spiritual life of the Christian, including the resurrection of his body, is thus organically connected with the mediatorial life of the Lord Jesus, might seem to be too plainly taught in the New Testament to admit of any question; and yet we find many slow to allow the mystery, notwithstanding. A very common view appears to be, that the whole salvation of the Gospel is accomplished in a more or less outward and mechanical way, by supernatural might and power, rather than by the Spirit of the Lord as a revelation of a new historical life in the person of the believer Himself. So we have an outward 211imputation of righteousness to begin with; a process of sanctification carried forward by the help of proper spiritual machinery brought to bear on the soul, including perhaps, as its basis, the notion of an abrupt creation ‘de novo,’ by the fiat of the Holy Ghost; and finally, to crown all, a sudden unprepared refabrication of the body, to be superadded to the life of the spirit already complete in its state of glory.” The doctrines of justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ; of the regeneration and sanctification of the soul by the supernatural power of the Spirit, and the resurrection of the body by the power of God at the last day, are rejected and despised; and the doctrine substituted for them is, that the divine-human life of Christ, as a new organic law, develops itself in the Church, just as the life of the acorn develops itself in the oak and in the forest, by a natural, historical process, so that the members of the Church, in virtue of their participation of this life, are justified and sanctified, and their bodies (since the life of Christ is a human life actualizing itself outwardly in a body as well as inwardly in a soul), ultimately raised from the dead, are fashioned after the glorious body of Christ. The resurrection of the body is as much a natural process as the development of a seed into a flower, or of a grub into a butterfly. This is Dr. Nevin’s own illustration: “The birth of the butterfly, as it mounts in the air on wings of light, is comparatively sudden, too; but this is the revelation only of a life which had been gradually formed for this efflorescence before, under cover of the vile, unsightly larve.” “The new creation,” he says, “is indeed supernatural; but as such it is strictly conformable to the general order and constitution of life. It is a new creation in Christ Jesus, not by Him in the way of mere outward power. The subjects of it are saved, only by being brought within the sphere of his life, as a regular, historical, divine-human process, in the Church. The new nature implanted in them at their regeneration, is not a higher order of existence framed for them at the moment out of nothing by the fiat of God, but truly and strictly a continuation of Christ’s life over in their persons.”226226Mystical Presence, pp. 228, 229.

This is the modern view of Christianity introduced by Schleiermacher, modified more or less by his disciples, and which has passed over into England and into this country. Humanity as revealed in Adam as a generic life was too feeble. Its development failed and would have ever failed to reach the ideal. 212Therefore God interposed and interrupted the process of natural development by the production of a new ideal man containing in himself a generic life, a seed, a principle, an organic law, which develops itself in the Church by a historical process, just as the life of Adam developed itself in his posterity. We, therefore, are justified, not by what Christ did, but by his life in us, which is as truly and properly our life, as the life we derived from Adam is our own life. We must stand before God to be justified or condemned, accepted or rejected, on the ground of what we are. We have nothing to offer but our own subjective, inherent character such as it is. The man is to be pitied who dares to do this. It is surely better to agree with Paul, who renounced his own righteousness, his own goodness, everything pertaining to himself, everything subjective, and trusted only and confidently to the righteousness of Christ received by faith.

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