Monday, March 28, 2011
Active Obedience Imputation Is Not Biblical - Part 4: "Straw Man Neo-Legalists"
Sometimes someone will say to me something like, "You're wrong, Terry, when you refute Active Obedience Imputation, because the 'New Perspective' and 'Federal Vision' people also refute it, and they are false teachers."
This argument is, of course, utterly illogical.
Those neo-legalists are false teachers on the very subject of Justification itself. In other words, they don't believe in biblical imputation of righteousness at all! Therefore, they of course couldn't believe in active obedience imputation.
In varying forms, they teach that if believers stay in the Church, and live a life that's good enough until they die, they will EVENTUALLY be declared righteous BASED ON THEIR WORKS!
I despise the doctrine of the New Perspective, Wright, Gundry, Shepherd, Federal Vision, and the rest of the neo-legalists. Their views of justification are based on OUR works, and is legalistic, and I despise legalism.
However, because THOSE GUYS deny the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ, their names are used to smear others who fully believe in the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, but NOT the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ.
I am as sola scriptura as anyone I know. In fact I am so sola scriptura that I have a visceral reaction to "proofs" given without Scripture, such as:
"The 1689 says..."
"The Westminster says..."
"Throughout the centuries Reformed theologians and confessions have embraced and taught this distinction..."
"The Belgic Confession...the Heidelburg Catechism...the Second Helvetic..."
"John Gill...John Owen...Charles Hodge...William Ames...Turretin...Witsius...Edwards...Shedd..."
Worst of all is the concept of defending so-called "Historic Christianity", because in 1500 A.D. that would have meant defending Roman Catholicism.
No doctrine should shrink from an examination from Scripture alone, and then a RE-examination from Scripture alone.
Having thoroughly studied this subject, but always open to Scriptural light, I looked for ONE verse of Scripture to support the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ, and found not one.
The question was asked of me, after quoting the 1689 London Baptist Confession, "Could it be any more clear?"
No, the LBC couldn't be much clearer, but the Scriptures they referenced for "proofs" not only don't support their premise of imputation of Active Obedience, but they teach the opposite.
For example, Rom. 5:18 says, "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through ONE act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."
Another example: Heb. 10:14, "For by ONE offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."
Third example: 1 Peter 1:18,19, "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."
Now I'm certainly not saying that Christ did not obey the Law perfectly throughout His life. He sure did.
But here's the key question:
Did Christ obey perfectly because He was righteous, or was He righteous because He obeyed perfectly? Surely it's the former. He was ALREADY righteous! That's why He obeyed. His righteousness was not dependent on His obedience, but His obedience showed that His righteousness was already inherent in Him.
I have read virtually every treatise on this so-called imputation of Active Obedience, and have repeatedly seen two things:
1. A dizzying reference to creeds, confessions, catechisms, and theological gurus, and...
2. A total lack of clear scriptural evidence.
In a much longer post, I could deal with the UNclear verses which are used to support the doctrine, but the burden of proof lies with those who teach the doctrine while avoiding relatively clear Scriptures like the plague.
Finally, why is this question important? Because the teaching of the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ is a very subtle denial of the Cross, the Blood, and the Death of Christ as sufficient for our justification.