The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What is justification and why is it necessary?

Quite so Dave. As I understand it… it is the realisation of justification that enables as you say… “the work that Christ has for us” to take shape. Thus it is not dissimilar to our established state of reconciliation, of which there is a call to then live according to it, i.e., the essence of Paul’s “be ye reconciled to God.” — remembering Paul is addressing this to “believers” NOT unbelievers.

Good, well said.

Dave, when we understand the word translated as “justified” to mean “rendered righteous” then the verses you quoted make total sense with respect to character change as a result of Christ’s sacrifice.

How would you understand “justification of life” in the following verse?

Does God through Christ justify our wicked lives so that we are acceptable in His sight just are we are, with no change in life style being necessary? Or should the expression be translated as “righteousification of life”—that is the free gift resulted in our formerly sinful lives becoming righteous?

P.S. I realize that “righteousification” is not an English word, but I coined it for this purpose. I can’t think of any known English word that could be used instead, to indicate our lives having been made righteous.

Paidion - I don’t think righteousness, as a character trait or fruit of the spirit - can be imputed. There is no ‘gift’ of character as far as I can tell. Patient endurance (often in suffering) does build character. I wish there was an easier way.

Who sets himself not sternly to be good,
Is but a fool, who judgment of true things
Has none, however oft the claim renewed.
And he who thinks, in his great plenitude,
To right himself, and set his spirit free,
Without the might of higher communings,
Is foolish also–save he willed himself to be.
GMac, Diary of an Old Soul entry June 15

Correct. It is not “imputed” or “counted as righteousness.”

The text says that Abraham’s faith was counted TOWARD righteousness (with righteousness as the goal).

Well, what do you know? The Calvinist site Got Questions - has addressed this.

Why is justification by faith such an important doctrine?

Whoa - not only missed the boat, did not even see the ocean!

This is what you need to know: (don’t I sound pompous and authoritative? :blush: ) … ification/

I do like NT Wright. But what is the “criteria”, for determining the Calvinists - have missed the boat and ocean:?: :laughing:

That would be your Bible, Randy.
More of my arrogance and pomposity. :astonished:

Which can bring us, a variety of theological positions Dave. Unless you are suggesting, all churches and theologians - are in agreement - on what it says :question: :unamused:

Doesn’t matter. I’m Wright.

Well, I do see how NT Wright, talks about the P-Zombie version of hell. Which got me on my quest…regarding the tribulation and the Zombie Apocalypse. So we are both Wright. :wink:

Hey everyone :slight_smile:

Just quickly skimmed through your replies. I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can answer them each individually. And you’ll also have to forgive me, I’m incredibly sleep deprived and stressed (mostly due to college and spiritual worrying) so I have to (unfortunately) say that I’m a tiny bit confused by the comments. So many of you guys stress justification being a declaration of salvation and being saved by Jesus’s sacrifice and that it’s a response to the gift freely given, and then I see the same people talk about justification being us actually beoming righteous, living righteous, living a sin-free life (which, I’m not sure if any of you guys feel this way too…I believe is impossible…:/).

I’m genuinely just really confused. It seems like Paul seems to stress justification as being an instant thing that happens when one believes the Gospel of Jesus. It doesn’t make sense to me that it is us actually living a sinless life. There were so many people, for example in Corinth, who were doing wildly immoral things, and yet Paul writes to them that they are saved and forgiven and justified, so to me that seems to be separate from sanctification. I absolutely agree that the salvation by God is not simply “legal”. But, maybe this is because I come from a Protestant upbringing, having this “legal” aspect “cleared up” is incredibly relieving and brings me great peace and hope…

Either way, like I said, I’m incredibly sleep deprived so you will all have to forgive me if my message makes no sense.

Many blessings on you all,


Your quote left out most of my sentence. It said the 8 Pauline texts I cited suggest that Paul does not understand ‘legal’ justification “as what meets our real need.”
My impression is that you, Davo, and DaveB assert what you think Paul means by justification, but don’t engage such relevant texts about what Paul understands to be crucial.

I have no idea what you mean when you appear to just respond that it’s a mistake to take these texts as ‘written to us.’ But in practice, it feels like a way to assert that offering what Paul actually wrote as evidence of his understanding can just be ignored. I take his view on this as relevant to shaping the interpretation of the Christian tradition.

Dave did you notice Wright’s reframing of justification in terms of “vindication” on the believing ones, and that on the last Day (which from my perspective makes this the nut and bolts of Paul’s ‘justification’ pertinent to that end-time group of saints in sync with Jesus ministering unto Israel’s redemption.) Which of course in the fullness of events typically then has in-kind benefits flowing to all and sundry, or as Wright would say… “What God would do for the world He was doing first in Israel.” — thus that biblical principle of Paul’s… “to the Jew first and then the Greek.

G’day Leandra… when you get a moment after some well needed rest check out that link I provided in my first post up the page… it could bring you much relief and assurance as to whose measure of righteousness actually counts, God’s or man’s.

Bob- are you talking about the meaning of Paul’s usage of the term “justification”? My focus was on the OP, where justification was taken to mean something quite other than what Paul said and meant.

Maybe ‘relevant texts’ is the issue? I"m leaning very heavily on the first 4-5 chapters of Romans, which have possibly been widely misunderstood to make certain current - well actually, since the Reformation - catchphrases .

I have read a few reformed essays questioning whether Wright is even a Christian. The wrong-headedness of that questioning is almost beyond my ken.

Here is an intelligent critique of Wright’s view on justification. This is not by someone who agrees with him on all matters; but the author is well known and respected, Craig Blomberg.Excerpt:

Put another way, those who find sixteenth-century formulations of theology the best ever produced in Christian history and not to be tampered with in any fashion, even on the basis of Scripture itself, will struggle with Paul’s repeated references to the Christians being judged according to their works. While Gal 5:6; Phil 2:12-13; Eph 2:10; and numerous other texts all clearly speak of the role transformed living must play for the truly justified person, too many Protestants recoil at the thought that Paul’s texts on judgment according to works (esp. Rom 2:6-11, 13-16, 25-29; 1 Cor 3:10-15; and 2 Cor 5:10) might mean exactly what they say when read in straightforward fashion. Of course, no one is justified by works, in the sense of God’s legal declaration of right standing with him. But the Spirit (note, e.g., his crucial role in Romans 8 and Galatians 5) proceeds to indwell the justified person, enabling one to obey God’s righteous standards, not perfectly or anything close to it, but in a way that one could never have done before. The justified are thus marked out as living to some degree in morally virtuous ways that demonstrate the reality of their experience with Christ. To this degree they can be said, in the final analysis, to be judged favorably on the basis of their works.

Throughout his prolific writing career, Wright has increasingly centered his attention on the breadth of the gospel message being much more than how an individual attains salvation, defined as life in heaven after death. Instead, Wright wants to keep reminding us that God’s plan for his creation extends to the re-creation of the entire cosmos, climaxing in new heavens and new earth. Fixate on the Reformers’ (understandable) preoccupation with how an individual becomes right with God (crucial in its day against medieval Catholicism) and one may miss the bigger picture, in which the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham through the children of Israel as progenitor of the Messiah looms even larger. Begin with this bigger picture and justification by grace through faith rather than works of the Law follows necessarily, but it will be understood in the larger, less anthropocentric but fully theocentric context of God’s Lordship in Christ over the whole universe. end of excerpt

It makes sense of Paul, does it not?

For the full critique, not a long read btw, you can go right here

Mrs Ozera, I think it’s both. We are righteous because we are born again of the Spirit. We are becoming righteous because of the work of the Holy Spirit within us. And a bonus third step… we will be made fully righteous at the resurrection of our bodies into newness of life.

The goal, yes, is to be without sin–and that should be GOOD and not frightening news–because it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. It is HE who works within us to fulfill His good pleasure.

As (I think) Paidion posted --maybe here in this thread-- I can’t remember; God is not easy to satisfy, but He is very easy to PLEASE.

Look at it this way: Let’s say I have a little grandchild visiting. I want her to clean up her bedroom (the guest room) and make the bed, so I ask her to do this. She says, “Yes, Grandma!” and runs to the guest room, picks up her clothes off the floor and puts them in her bag, then does her best to make the bed. I am pleased and delighted with her obedience, yet I will still teach her how to make the bed and help her to do it. As she grows and matures, I’ll expect her to do these things without being told, and while I’ll still be pleased, I’ll expect more of her as she becomes able to do more. I will teach her and remind her and still love her even if she forgets–even if she rebels. However, if she does rebel, that will damage our relationship. It will make me sad and her bad behavior will harm both of us. It will not stop me loving her, but it will cause pain. She may reject me but I will never reject her. If she returns to me, I will welcome her with joy–like the father of the prodigal son.

God is like that. God is our loving Father, not some hard-to-please task master. HE will work His righteousness in our lives (and not we ourselves) as we cooperate with Him and submit to His ministrations to us.

Blessings, Cindy


By “relevant texts” in Paul, I of course was including the eight I quoted. I appreciate your references to Wright and the dilemma in Paul of not being justified by works, but being judged according to our works. Many in the New Perspective think the first refers as usually specified to the works “of the Law,” while the second refers to good works in general. I suspect it’s more complicated than that, and involves the differing tenses of justification that you cite, and Paul’s understanding that the vital good works produced in us by faith are ultimately credited to God’s doing, and thus will be the criterion by which we will be pronounced righteous or acquitted at the future day of judgment.

Perhaps a central conundrum with ideas of instant ‘legal’ justification is whether Paul’s understanding of believing correct doctrines implies that persevering through a process of growth in actual righteousness is then not essential. My impression is that Paul does not see being ‘justified by faith’ as implying that we are then exempt from the painful consequences of sinful choices, or of God’s judgment in that sense. I.e. it’s vital to affirm that acceptable faith leads to a changed life that “works by love.” Maybe that’s just another way of saying that I doubt the classic reformed tendency to define justification essentially as an ‘imputed’ righteousness.