The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What is justification and why is it necessary?


Well, you closed by saying if we “questioned” your capitalized view, we have turned our backs on God! That sounded a bit ‘disastrous’ to me. I’m sorry if that characterization exaggerated your feeling about it.

You state, “I accept your view,” but that statement and your alternative stated view sounds to me like you quite reject it.

I don’t care whether anyone is “orthodox.” I have often been seen on this forum as the resident heretic, and I do not fit the evangelical label very well at all. Still, asking why one could have a problem with an unorthodox position sounds peculiar on an evangelical site. But the only problem I was trying to state is that if one asserts an interpretation of “justification” apart from engaging the Pauline texts, I couldn’t see on what common grounds we could dialogue over the question. But it’s fine with me for you to hold a differing view, and I’m sorry if I sounded otherwise.


Thanks Don, that sheds more light on the subject.
I get the feeling that Paul - and I"m talking about Romans, which I"m immersed in - writes ‘holistically’. He doesn’t chop each thing into discrete chunks; rather, he tells God’s story in a way we would NEVER have guessed - those 2 years in the desert must have been amazing - and as he tells it he gives us a vocabulary to help us understand it, and to help in transforming our minds.

I DO think that Paul presents a process; Chapters 1-4 are not just talking about ‘justification by faith’ (though that is a part of it) but rather the whole story of the covenant with Abraham and God’s faithfulness throughout history in the face of human sin. His argument is ‘tricky’ and though I now understand it much better than I did, I am amazed, simply amazed, by the breadth and depth of his understanding; and I’m convinced he needed to unpack the various technical terms to explain it all to us.

But then chapter 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 - what a ride!! The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, - well we all know the rest of it; being a Christian is obviously a process, a holistic life rooted in the past, growing in the present, to be declared justified at the great Assize.

But the language seems to trip us up, and we tend to talk past one another, when at bottom I think we all are just amazed at what God has done, is doing, and always will do; it would be great if we all had the same vocabulary to express it. Hard to do.

Thanks again for the teaching.


THAT I would submit is a purely subjective view… held by many so you are not alone.

Abram was declared “righteous” purely on BELIEF alone and such was instantaneously imputed to him (Gen 15:6) and was NOT some drawn out “lifelong process”. It so came to be that Abraham THEN outworked the fruit of his righteousness according to various works during the process of his life. The NT process is NOT unto justification/righteousness but rather unto sanctification, and that BECAUSE OF justification/righteousness. As I’m seeing it… you have the cart before the horse.


But the question remains: what does ‘righteousness’ mean? You say it meaning one thing, three other people say it and mean something a bit different.


Well on the macro level to use Tom Wright’s verbiage I’d say… “being put to the right” — the trouble is, of course, the varying micro levels, but as an overarching concept, as above. :slight_smile:



Thanks much for taking time to explain your own exegesis! Here’s some brief reactions:

I find most scholars see 1 Cor 6’s “inheriting” God’s kingdom probably refers to sharing in the future full rule of God on earth, such as the prophets promised to Israel. Do you differ?

On 1Cor 7, I agree Paul stresses obeying the spirit of the Law, but don’t grasp what only addressing “the covenanted people” means. Isn’t he writing those in Christ, not Israel?

On Rom 3 and 2, I totally agree Paul sees the essence of the law as love, and that "righteous actions are what “actually” what matters to God.

On Rom 8, if the law “finds its’ true essence” in such actions means “not living according to the sinful nature,” I agree with that too. That seems to be the central point of Christ being given for us.

On your argument that being judged according to our works only refers to how many rewards we get, I think that’s widely held and possible. But deeming such persistence in doing good as the way to gain “eternal life,” can sound like more is at stake than mere extra rewards. I find some passages that portray judgment scenes where works are the criterion could easily be read as saying they are the essential marker to being acquitted on that day.

Yes, 2Cor 5 says God has already reconciled the world, but that is balanced by the tension of the call that WE yet need to “be” reconciled, and a reference to what we then “become.” Indeed, as you note, whatever already being reconciled assures (ultimate UR?), it doesn’t mean our sins are presently treated as if we were righteous or reconciled. I sense such terms are affirmed in multiple tenses, such that we have been justified in one sense, but in another we yet need to be justified, or we will experience God’s judgments.


And thus, I think, George MacDonald could enter this conversation to our profit.


Davo, How can one be declared righteous purely on belief alone? Does a bank robber believe that what he is doing is right? Even if, for some twisted reason, he believes it’s right to rob a bank, does that make him righteous? There were many who believed in pagan gods and thought their ways were right. Just because you believe in something doesn’t make it right, nor does it make you righteous.


Well, since I normally side with Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Here’s what they have to say.

What Do Orthodox Christians Believe about Justification? A Response to Protestant Criticisms
How Are We Saved?


I cannot speak for bank robbers or pagans, I can only rely on the Scriptures… something I choose to trust as per…

You are not obligated to believe these Scriptures and I doubt God thinks of you any less if you don’t, but I choose to believe what is there in black and white without any need to whitewash it away through endless contortions.


I took the liberty of swiping some definitions from a link Randy gave us, above. I think these could be very useful. See what you think.

Justification – This term deals with how a person comes into and maintains a right relationship with God. Ultimately, this is made possible by the cross of Christ, by which He made expiation for our sins, granting us forgiveness and bringing us into a right relationship with God. Justification is accomplished at baptism and maintained through a life of obedience to God and confession of sins.

Sanctification – Sanctification is the process of separating a person or thing for exclusive use by God or for God. Holiness, the result of sanctification, is the state of being exclusively devoted to God. This ultimately requires purification from sin and detachment from the world and material things. This is usually seen as an ongoing process that one undergoes throughout one’s life. Sanctification is accomplished through ascetic struggle.

Glorification – The final state of Christians perfected in Christ after His Second Coming. While this term (as a participle) was used in Romans 8:29, Orthodoxy normally understands this idea to be the culmination of theosis (see below).

Adoption – The result of being engrafted into the Body of Christ through Baptism. We are adopted by God the Father as sons and co-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15-17). Adoption is the state by which we may partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) through theosis (c.f. the series on theosis and adoption by Fr. Matthew Baker).

Faith – This term can be understood biblically in two senses: (Paul) trust, fidelity, or loyalty to Christ that includes obedience and good works, or (James) simple cognitive belief (James 2:19) that must be complemented with good works.

Works – Also, this term is used biblically in two senses: (Paul) the “works of the Torah” such as circumcision, kosher regulations, and the myriad of other ordinances of the Law of Moses that are incapable of establishing one as righteous before God, or (James) good works (in an ethical sense) and obedience before God which accompany genuine faith.


Bob wrote:

And I have come to believe that very thing. I was in other believing camps for a long time. I now believe Jesus did it all.

Bob wrote:

This could be a case where the lack of my command of the English language is showing. My point was that I accept that you can hold any view you wish to. You have yours I have mine :smiley:

Bob wrote:

I appreciate that Bob. The frustration to you (I realize you are a theologian) is nut cracks like me say the things that I say :laughing: But in my view, there may be folks out there (perusing this site) who have the same questions as I do and the same lack of theological knowledge as I do but still want to know about a subject. My view may well liberate someone who says ‘I’ve thought that all along’ and it gives a bit of traction to them to seek to know things about the God of Abraham and His son Jesus. A view they may have held but were afraid to voice, possibly because of orthodoxy. :astonished:

So, while given a bit of time, I think I have the capacity to dig in and give a bunch of proof texts and scriptures, at the end of the day, for me at least, it’s the idea that counts. I don’t like arguing the meaning of greek words. That to me is your job.

I hope this clears it up a bit and hope you have a very blessed new year.

Love you,



If any of you have had a chance to read the definitions I posted above, (two posts back) I’d like to know your thoughts, to see where we differ and where we agree. Especially on justification and sanctification, which are directly relevant to the OP.


You are baiting me :laughing:

I said:

So If we look at Justification, Sanctification, Glorification, Adoption, Faith, Works… :open_mouth:

My post still is valid to me. :laughing:


It must be me - I read that sentence of yours, and it’s like - of course! Then I read those definitions and it’s like - of course! :smiley:
I most truly do not see the problem, but give me time, as long as it’s not rocket surgery, eventually I’ll get it!


Explain? It seems to me there could be a perceived problem. And that is cool, as that is what this is all about. :laughing:


I did explain, Chad, that I don’t see the problem. You will have to help me.


Sorry, you said you’d eventually get it, my bad. :wink:


Ok, I’ll get it eventually, not a problem!!
Got too much to worry about, what with the colonoscopy ‘prep’ (what a glorious euphemism for what that really is :laughing: ) tomorrow and the thing itself next day I"ve had them before, no big deal.


I quote a famous saying of yours, “THAT I would submit is a purely subjective view… held by many so you are not alone.”

It was NOT “instantaneously imputed to him.” The Greek of Gen 15:6 of the Septugint, and its quote in Romans 4:4 are identical. Neither of them have "counted AS righteousness. They both affirm that Abraham’s faith as counted to him “εις δικαιοσυνη”. While the preposition “εις” is often translated as “into” it also frequently used to indicate its object as a GOAL. So God counted Abraham’s faith TOWARD righteousness, with righteousness being the goal of his faith. That is a process and totally agrees with Paul’s teaching that righteousification comes about through faith.

The Greek verb for “cleansing” is an aorist active participle—thus cleansing their hearts as a process, they coöperating with God’s work through exercising faith. God rendering people righteous is a process. “δικαιουντα” is a present active participle meaning “rendering righteous.”

That Paul meant a PRACTICAL righteousness brought about by faith is evident in the following passage: