Thursday, February 21, 2013

Atonement Theories and Objective Justification

On today's program I did a brief overview of the controversy over objective justification and gave some of my thoughts on the matter. Then I answered a question about the Governmental theory of the atonement and launched to a discussion of the various atonement motifs. Here's the program.

Here is the article I referenced in regards to objective justification: What is objective justification?


J. Dean said...

Great show, Justin, and those of us not as familiar with the Objective/Subjective justification points found it to be an interesting discussion.

Question: have the proponents of Objective Justification been accused of taking a step in the direction of universalism? I ask that because it would seem that, if objective justification was not properly understood, it could lead to a misunderstanding and become universalism.

Thanks again!

Martin Yee said...

Hi Jordan,

Thanks for the good discussion. Objective justification is widely taught in Lutheranism in WELS, LCMS and in ELCA. Carl E. Braaten of the ELCA wrote,"Justification as forgiveness is radically gift and not achievement...It is important to grasp the object validity of the forgiveness of sins offered on the part of God prior to the human act of order not to fall into the later errors of both seventh-century orthodox and eighteenth century pietistic dogmatics." -Carl E.Braaten,"Justification"(Fortress Press, 1990) p 24.

One of the main thrust of the teaching of objective justification is to preserve monergism and to counter pietistic and semi-pelagian tendencies, the unwitting idea that faith makes justification become a reality. In fact justification is a reality prior to faith. Faith appropriates this reality. Justification is a divine act.

Just a thought.


Andrew said...

Jordan, I think your criticism of Reformed Theology regarding Christus Victor, Ransom, and Recapitulation is incorrect here.

Granted, penal substitution is the 'heart' of the atonement in Reformed Theology, but those other theories exist in RT as well.

Michael Horton's Systematic Theology addresses this.

Andrew said...

In short, Horton argues that the atonement includes all of these aspects (esp in Colossians 2), but without penal substitution, none of the other theories matter much.

But the atonement is big enough to do multiple things, even when it's 'limited.' ;)

Jordan Cooper said...


Thanks for your comments. It certainly is confessed by a lot of Reformed Theologians that there are other atonement motifs in Scripture; however, there is almost a singular obsession with penal substitution, and I think this is connected to the idea of limited atonement.

When Horton talks about Christus Victor for example, he is always quick to qualify that by placing it within the penal substitutionary framework. Now, I'm not denying that the two ideas are connected, but I don't think one necessarily has prominence over the other.

Andrew said...

Jordan - I agree, penal substitution takes precedence over the others in Reformed Theology.

I was only pointing out that some Reformed Theologians do recognize other aspects of the work of Christ.

Funny story...I one got labeled a eretic for saying that the atonement had a Christus Victor aspect to it. So, yeah, for some Calvinists, it's all penal and nothing else.