The Evangelical Universalist Forum

How does Jesus's resurrection make people righteous?


Interesting comment. Do you find the moral influence model of the atonement more reasonable?


You’re finding it fuzzy, qaz, because you are not paying attention to what we actually said, but you write what you THINK we said. If I am wrong, then quote either one of us saying that Jesus’s death and resurrection enable people to love their neighbors (with “loving their neighbors” being the means of attaining righteousness). I know I have never said that, nor have I ever read such a statement from Bob.

Indeed, I have clearly stated that non-Christians have loved others, even to the point of sacrificing their own lives to save the lives of others. What I HAVE said is that Jesus death and resurrection enables us to live CONSISTENTLY righteous lives, and to be able to perform loving acts that we would otherwise find difficult to do, because of our self-serving natures. The apostle Paul held the same view. He taught what that enabling grace can do for a person. I’ve quoted it many times, but I’ll never tire of quoting it until it is accepted as the gospel truth (which, in fact, it is)

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and devout lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; encourage and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)

How do we appropriate this enabling grace? We appropriate it through faith. Jesus died to provide this enabling grace, and by trusting Him to do so, it becomes a reality in our lives.

Many think “δικαιοσυνη,” The Greek word translated as “justification” to mean “being counted as righteous,” whether we are righteous or not. But the word usually means “being made righteous.”

Working together [with Him], we entreat you not to accept the grace of God to no purpose. (2 Cor 6:1)

If we try to accept God’s grace in our lives without allowing it to purify us, to render us righteous, then we are accepting it to no purpose.

We must coöperate with God’s enabling grace. We alone cannot achieve consistent righteousness. And God alone will not cause us to be righteous. He respects our ability to choose too much for that. We must coöperate with God’s enabling grace.

This coöperation with God is known as “synergy.” This English word comes from the Greek word “working together.” (συνεργουντες)

A particular group of denominations push “monergy.” This is the idea God did all the work concerning our righteousness, that we have no part in it at all. No wonder so many fall away, thinking that what they choose to do has no bearing on their standing with God.

However, I think the apostle Paul had it right. Concerning deliverance from wrongdoing, we need to work together with God, and so not to attempt to accept the grace of God in a way that does not save us from wrongdoing. If that were possible, it would serve no purpose.


Amen, Paidion!


Here’s something I said, on another forum thread.

Here’s another clarifying question. Do the “saved” folks, need to have an “explicit” belief in Christ - in this life? Or can they be included in the saved, by the faith and light they are given? Even if they don’t follow and acknowledge Christ explicitly? Or to put it another way, can the Holy Spirit and Christ (in the most cosmic role, as the Logos of the gospel of John), reach those outside the Christian faith? For the record, this position is embraced by the Roman Catholic Church (since Vatican II), a majority of Eastern Orthodox scholars and many Protestant branches. see :

Those who haven’t heard

Let me point to a couple of sources, by a conservative EO theologian. And a video talk, at the Theosophical Society - by a conservative, Calvinist theologian:

EO theologian on Inclusivism
Rev. Dr. Jay Moses: What Does Salvation Mean in a Multi-Religious World?

Remember when I said, Black Elk was a Lakota Holy Man, Medicine man, and Roman Catholic? And US bishops, voted to make him a saint?:

US Catholics Pursuing Sainthood for Native American Visionary Nicholas Black Elk

Is he being considered a saint because he is?

A Roman Catholic?
A Lakota holy person?
A Lakota medicine man?


Well, as I have kept saying, any explanation that both contradicts Scripture and is morally disturbing is too many strikes. You leave me wondering what you yet find “coherent” in the midst of violating both Scripture and conscience?

On: “Why wasn’t someone whose sins were forgiven righteous?,” maybe because these are Not identical. A qualification of the forgiven is being a sinner. A qualification of being righteous, is acting righteously. The expectation is that we respond to forgiveness with righteousness. That may be why Jesus said that if we are forgiven, and then don’t display forgiveness, it can no longer be said that our sins are forgiven.


Here’s another clarifying question. Do the “saved” folks, need to have an “explicit” belief in Christ - in this life? Or can they be included in the saved, by the faith and light they are given? Even if they don’t follow and acknowledge Christ explicitly? Or to put it another way, can the Holy Spirit and Christ (in the most cosmic role, as the Logos of the gospel of John), reach those outside the Christian faith? For the record, this position is embraced by the Roman Catholic Church (since Vatican II), a majority of Eastern Orthodox scholars and many Protestant branches. see :

One of the benefits of believing the Lake of Fire is redemptive is that judgment doesn’t have to boil down to just saved or damned as there may be billions of shades of grey. So I think God will take into account how much light each person was given and what he/she chose to do with this light. That’s the essence of judgment , that it’s just and actually beneficial.


All rigghhhttt, Steve!


I find moral influence less coherent than retributive models but also less explicitly contradicted by scripture. What’s your atonement theory, lancia?


–leaning towards the moral influence model


Paidion, If Jesus’ death and resurrection does not enable people to love their neighbor and perform loving acts, then how does it enable them to consistently do so?


Bob, If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that the Holy Spirit was not available before Jesus. If so, I would have to disagree. The Holy Spirit was and always is providing strength and help to those who seek Him.

qaz, Those who do not follow the Spirit of God, His laws and His ways are the ones who are condemned. If you are lying, cheating, committing adultery, etc. etc., your life will eventually end in destruction.



Can you explain your model in more detail? My biggest problem with moral influence is that the NT seems to teach that people can’t be righteous by works; they NEED Jesus’s blood sacrifice to be justified. Jesus may be the best moral influence possible, but whatever behavior we perform as a result of being influenced by him is not what justifies us. At least that’s the sentiment I’ve always heard from Christians.


I’m no expert on the model, but what you say about righteousness can be countered by the parable of the sheep and the goats. The sheep are favored by Jesus because of their good moral character, as exemplified by their works–they helped others in need. The goats did not. And in the sheep-and-goats parable, the sheep are specifically referred to as righteous (Matthew 26:37): “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?’"


LLC, apparently you didn’t notice the explanatory parenthetical clause in qaz’s statement: (with “loving their neighbors” being the means of attaining righteousness).

One may receive enabling grace (made available by Jesus’ death and resurrection) to love one’s neighbour and to perform other loving acts. But this love is not the MEANS of attaining righteousness. It is the EVIDENCE of righteousness. The means of attaining righteousness is that enabling grace that is made available by Jesus’ death and resurrection.


The OT mostly has the Spirit present to anoint Israel’s key leaders. If you perceive that Jesus brought no difference in the wider enabling work of the Spirit, what do you base that on? Do you disagree with the apostles that on Pentecost the Spirit was poured out in a greater way to God’s people? Do you disagree that Jesus brought Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s day of the New Covenant when God’s Spirit can write his law on our hearts?


Interesting post, lancia. Couldn’t people feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give water to the thirsty whether Jesus was murdered or not? The NT seems to teach that doing those things wouldn’t suffice to make a person righteous.


Curious! Besides this text that lancia cites as straightforward, I’ve cited above many other texts in Jesus and Paul that appear to also say that doing such things from the heart will be counted as righteousness. I’ve not seen any response explaining how these do not truly teach that.

Though just doing Israel’s distinctive “works of the law” expressly wouldn’t make a person righteous, do you have clearer texts than ours that expressly state that acts of love, such as feeding the hungry, will not be counted as making a person righteous?


Yes. I’m pointing out the parable only to show you that being deemed righteous is possible by solely doing good works, according to that part of the Bible.

But, more to your point, in the moral influence model of atonement, his martyrdom and subsequent resurrection are considered by some to make his moral teachings all the more powerful, so his murder is seen as an important part of establishing his moral message.

If that’s true, then that’s part of the problem. One can seemingly support many different views–even contrasting ones–with verses from the Bible.


Bob, from what I understand, the Holy Spirit has no boundaries. The law was written in our hearts when God created man.

Genesis 1:27 God created man and woman in His own image.
Genesis 1:7 “And the Lord formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”
Then God blessed them and said, " Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth and subdue it." This is the “new covenant”.

As Moses also said, " The word is very near you, in your mouth and in heart that you should obey it."

The Bible does not record the lives of everyone who ever lived. I do agree that there are times throughout history when the voice of God speaks louder and the Spirit moves a greater number of people. However, I disagree with your statement that the Spirit was only present to anoint the key leaders of Israel. All those who came out of Egypt were baptized in the cloud( the Spirit) and in the sea(1 Cor.10:1-2); and the pillar of the cloud led them by day and the fire by night.
Exodus 40:34 'Then the glory of the Lord covered the tabernacle of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle."

2 Chron.5:14 “In unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the Lord and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpeters and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying, “He indeed is good for his loving kindness is everlasting”, then the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud., so that the priests could not stand minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.”

Nehemiah 9:20 “You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth. And you gave them water for their thirst.”


Paidion, I believe we have already been given the means to attain righteousness, that is a heart,mind and spirit. God gave us the ability to love, forgive, have compassion etc.etc. We just need to practice such things. An act of kindness, love, or forgiveness enables another to reciprocate.