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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Imputation (Logizomai) & Genesis 15:6 (Romans 4)

Below is my article on Imputation that I wrote back in 2012 and was hosted on a popular Catholic blog that recently went defunct. I made slight edits to it, but otherwise no substantial changes. It is one of the most thorough articles on Imputation and the Greek word Logizomai that I'm aware of. I highly recommend Catholics learn this information, because it will greatly improve your apologetics when talking with Protestants. In fact, there is no Protestant response to this, because I quote almost 50 top Protestant theologians/sources admitting Imputation is nowhere clearly taught in the Bible!

52 comments:

Porphyry said...

I recall reading this some time ago, and it is quite frankly one of the most devastating arguments against the Protestant interpretation of Romans I have ever seen. It really needs to be taken up by someone and put into print.

Talmid said...

Really impressive stuff, Nick. Like Sola Scriptura and the rest of Solas, Sola Fide as understood by protestants has no basis on Scripture really. A shame that protestants just take these teachings for granted and never tries to look them up in the Bible.

I remember that Scott Hahn realising that this idea of imputation being just a man-made doctrine was the first step in his conversion to the Church. Your article should be way more viewed!

If anyone here can contact a catholic with some relevance, do it.

JW said...

How can logizomai in Romans 4:3-5 be a reckoning about the character of Faith or wages rather than a crediting of wages and righteousness? The key problem for your reading is the question of what does the "to him" in v.3 mean? It makes much more sense to read this as "credited to him" rather than as an assessment of faith. And there's nothing in v. 4 that requires logizomai to mean reckoning about the character of the wages rather than a crediting of the wages to the worker.

Nick said...

JW, I will get to this and the other comment when I can.

Nick said...

JW,

I think your approach to this text is unfair because you refuse to accept the mountain of evidence that I've provided, and instead are trying to somehow overturn all that with some technicality. I have presented a mountain of evidence showing: (1) What the Bible means when the term Logizomai is used; (2) the context of Romans 4, including 4:18-22; and (3) the plain admission by many respected Protestant scholars saying Imputation is nowhere plainly taught in the Bible.

You asked how can it be about the "character of faith," yet Romans 4:18-22 is St Paul's very own exegesis of Genesis 15:6! Paul says Abraham's faith and hope did not weaken, but grew strong and gave glory to God. This is hardly the description of a man who has nothing righteous about himself, especially since the Bible doesn't play word games like that.

It seems totally desperate and disingenuous for you to even play such word games. Verse 3 and 5 says FAITH was credited "to him" as righteousness. By your logic, that would mean Abraham believed yet didn't even have faith, but rather faith itself was transferred or imputed to Abraham. That's just ridiculous.

As for "there's nothing in v4 that requires logizomai to mean," well there's not much in v4 to begin with, so collapsing the entire debate down to verses 4-5 is kinda obviously irresponsible exegesis and blatant disregard for the whole of what Paul felt needed to be said. I find it amusing that you're now suddenly suggesting a text is "not required" to be read a certain way, and that a text can now suddenly hold the possibility of other interpretations. That doesn't bode well for you, because now it means you can no longer presume only one interpretation, and instead much actually make a case for WHY you think a text means what you think it means.

In this instance, the text (at least in English) reads "wages are not counted as a gift". The plain reading to me is that wages should not be "regarded as" a free gift. That seems perfectly coherent to me. Now are you suggesting this means wages are paid, like giving cash to a worker? If so, that sounds a lot like a set up for infusion of righteousness, rather than Imputation. If you're suggesting this verse is teaching this wage was "credited to Abraham's bank account," that's a bold and unfair step to take. Bank accounts didn't even exist back then. The term "account" or anything similar is absent here. So if you are projecting/supplying "account" here, then YOU just took some liberties with your reading, when you refuse to grant such liberties to the opposing side.

Furthermore, your quest to find a technicality completely ignores the fact language can be more flexible that what you're allowing. A sentence/phrase can often have a wider range of meaning than a wooden-literal reading would suggest, hence the fact there are "idioms" in all languages, including Hebrew. In my recent posts, I've shown that there is good reason to think "credited as righteousness" is a Hebrew idiom referring to covenant ratification. We often have to take as step back when reading what Jesus or the Apostles said, because we're not used to their manner of speech.

If you truly cared about the Bible, your commentary would take the form of "While the text can be read as Nick is suggesting, I think it's not correct because of the following reasons..." Instead, your commentary takes the form of "Nothing Nick says holds any weight, what Sola Scriptura is really about is my preferred nuanced eisegesis."

Porphyry said...

I should add that we are not wholly in the dark about what the idiom "Reckoned as Righteous" means, as Paul is not the only one to use it and it appears also in one of the Dead Sea Scroll texts called "On the Works of the Law". That entire book is about ceremonial works righteousness, and makes no mention of general moral precepts such as are found in the decalogue. This further weakens the Protestant interpretation of Romans, for it shows that these idioms were used in other contexts from that same period to indicate a) ceremonial purity and the following of ritual ordinance and b) fulfilling covenant obligations, whereas the "Reformers" need these terms to refer to imputation of righteousness and good deeds in some generic moral sense. Neither meaning makes sense in the historical context we are dealing with, but would of course make perfect sense to a 16th century northern European who was obsessed with late medieval debates over monergism and syngerism.

JW said...

I am going to use multiple comments to include everything.

Nick,

You didn't address the question and you criticized a bunch of things I didn't say.

The "mountain of evidence" doesn't tell us how the important verses in Romans 4:3-5 should be read. The word logizomai has multiple meanings and its usage elsewhere in Scripture doesn't necessarily tell us how to read this section. Focusing on Romans 4 is completely sensible because Paul is using here logizomai in the context of a discussion of justification. Other uses of logizomai in the NT don’t always directly inform the doctrine of justification.

I focused on v. 4 in particular because you used your interpretation of this verse to understand v. 3. I’m not the one using this verse to interpret Gen. 15:6; I’m criticizing your using of v. 4. Romans 4:4 is ambiguous in Greek. Read the NIV, KJV, NET and Douay-Rheims to see that they it can be translated differently. Logizomai could be understand to be “crediting/counting” or “regarding” in this verse, if read in isolation. The ambiguity is in the word "kata" which can be translated "according to" or "as." The point I’m trying to make is that the ambiguous v. 4 should not inform v. 3 or v. 5. Instead other evidence is needed and the "to him" of v. 3 suggests "credit to him" is a better reading. These aren't word games.

Also, you wrote: "By your logic, that would mean Abraham believed yet didn't even have faith..." No, the words impute and credit don't mean "give" and I never said they did. Nothing I wrote implies Abraham was given faith Gen. 15:6.

JW said...

I'll lay out the whole argument for my reading of logizomai in Romans 4 here. First, Paul tells us how we should interpret Gen. 15:6 when he writes in v. 6: "...just as David also speaks..." referring to Psalm 32. David writes of forgiveness of sins, "covering iniquity" and not imputing sin. Nothing there talks about the righteous character of faith or anything similar. This sounds a lot more like the Protestant view, especially the "covering iniquity."

Next, in v. 11 Paul writes of Abraham's "righteousness that he had by faith." It doesn't say he has a righteous faith or a faith regarded as righteous, instead Abraham possesses (at least in some sense) a righteousness and the "by faith" makes it sound like faith is instrumental.

Then in verses 23-24 Paul says: "But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe..." The word "faith" isn't here, so it would be odd to understand logizomai here to mean "regarding." If it means crediting here, it should be read as crediting elsewhere in Ch. 4. And at this point where Paul seems to be summarizing his case, he only mentions the "counting to him" (and counting to us). If the central point of Gen. 15:6 is the regarding of faith as righteous it seems odd that Paul focuses on the "counting to him."

Verses 18-22 don't change this. The "That is why..." of v. 22 is probably referring to the immediately preceding sentence, which talks about Abraham trusting God's promise. Nowhere does it say that the quality of Abraham's faith is why righteousness was credited to him.

Let's consider some patristic testimony. Chrysostom's commentary emphasizes other issues and doesn't directly address the question at hand, but there is evidence for how we should interpret this in his commentary. Commenting on v. 4 he writes, "for it is to the believer that it is reckoned." Commenting on v. 5: "Having then shown that the righteousness is better, not owing to Abraham's having received it only..." Abraham receives righteousness. He never writes about a regarding of the quality of faith. On the question of how logizomai should be read Chrysostom understands it to mean "reckon to the believer."

There's another piece of evidence from the Vulgate. St Jerome translates the Gk. "kata" of v. 4 with "secundum" which means "according to."

I think the evidence is overwhelming for how we should translate logizomai here. But there's another question we need to answer. That is: what is the ground of the crediting in vv. 3-5? Paul answers exactly this question in vv. 4 and 5. He presents a contrast between the "why" of the imputing between v.4 and v. 5. In v. 4, the one who works is credited his wages as an obligation and in v. 5, the one who does not work is graciously credited righteousness.

A couple of final points:

You correctly note that logizomai should be understood as having a "mental evaluation" aspect. In the context of justification this actually points to the forensic aspect. The righteousness credited to the believer is "on paper," as it were. We are justified not because of a righteousness that inheres in us, but because God graciously credits our faith as righteousness, a righteousness we don't deserve.

Chrysostom's commentary on the non-imputation of 2 Corinthians 5:19 reveals that he identifies a forensic aspect to the non-imputation of sins.

Martin Chemnitz, in his "Examination of the Council of Trent," has a section on the meaning and usage of logizomai and addresses some of the questions raised here, including specific questions you claimed Protestant theologians ignore. If anyone wants to read it, it starts on p. 530 in vol. 1 of the Kramer translation.

Nick said...

JW,

(1) You said Romans 4:3-5 are "important verses," which I consider an unfair assertion. Protestants have a horrible track record of turning these (frangments) of a verse into a super-dogma with the express intention of ignoring the rest of Paul's words. The idea that the Doctrine of Justification is reduced entirely down to your pet reading of two sentences is outrageous. There is nothing Sola Scriptura about that approach. Protestants are notorious for despising the traditional understanding of "Scripture intreprets Scripture" by refusing to even look at Romans 4:18-22 and Galatians 3:6-9, which is where Paul talks about this very passage!

(2) You said "the word logizomai has multiple meanings". This is either a claim of total ignorance or blatant deception. I show REPEATEDLY that there are not "multiple meanings" for Logizomai, but rather that there is a fairly narrow range of meaning and usage in the NT.

(3) You said "Romans 4:4 is ambiguous in Greek". That admission, to me, completely undermines your original post. It means there isn't sufficient basis to make a decisive case either way. When a decisive case cannot be made from a verse, that either means you can no longer be dogmatic about it, or that you must bring in additional evidence elsewhere.

(4) I did not use Romans 4:4 as the sole basis for my reading of 4:3. Again, I have called attention to numerous factors for my case, including 4:18-22, Ps106:30f, Gal3:6-9, Gen 15:1-18, the consistent usage of Logizomai in the Bible.

(5) The "it" of 4:3 is "faith," which is beyond dispute, as 4:5 makes clear: "faith is credited [to him] as righteousness."

Nick said...

JW, for your second post:

There isn't much meat to your "whole argument" for your reading of Logizomai in Romans 4.

(1a) I addressed the use of Logizomai in Romans 4:8 in the above article, which you're ignoring here. The fact Paul/David speaks of "NOT imputing" sin means Logizomai is being negated, which throws a wrench into the Protestant understanding, since now it must be read as "blessed is the man whose sin is NOT removed". Obviously, that contradicts the plain meaning, which is that sin is indeed forgiven. So Logizomai cannot mean anything akin to transfer, it can only mean regard as. In this case, David is not regarded as having sin precisely because the sin was forgiven.

(1b) I have also written a few articles on how Romans 4:6-8 just demolishes the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness, because (as you rightly noticed) David only speaks of forgiving sin and doesn't even mention righteousness. This can only mean that "reckoning righteousness" is the equivalent expression to "not imputing sin," which means to be regarded as righteous before God is simply having your sins forgiven. There is no way to read "not imputing sin" as a synonym for "Imputation of Active Obedience of Christ", nor does Paul see the need for AOC.

(1c) The expression "covering" iniquity is best understood as an idiom for "atoning" for sin, not the covering of filth with a clean cloth. The 'cover' idea in Hebrew refers to patching over damage, not the mere hiding it from visibility. The latter is nowhere in the Hebrew mindset, and wouldn't even make sense when "forgiveness" is spoken of in the same context, along with the various Hebrew expressions for "washing" and "cleansing" of sin.

(2) The phrasing of 4:11 must take into account the flexibility of language. You keep trying to deny that Paul is saying "faith" itself was regarded as righteousness, yet the very context you appeal to says: "we say that FAITH was counted to Abraham as righteousness". If I do something heroic, you could BOTH say I did a heroic deed AS WELL AS demonstrated that I as a person am heroic. This shows the danger of Sola Scriptura and complete disinterest in the Bible by the Protestant side, since practically everything you claim first presumes Imputation of AOC, without it ever having to be proven in the first place.

(3) You said the "it" in 23-24 doesn't refer to faith, when it most certainly does throughout the chapter, including the prior verse 22. That is just you being completely disingenuous with the Biblical evidence.

(4) Your skimming over 4:18-22 is more disingenuous approach to Scripture. You're basically saying 18-22 is irrelevant to Paul's lesson, and rather that everything we need to know about Justification is 4:3,5. The ESV says of 22, "That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness." In other words, we know exactly why God considered Abraham's FAITH as proof of righteousness, or the covenant sign, because of how great that faith was in 18-22.

(5) I did consider the Patristic testimony in my Article, so you would do well to actually take that into consideration. It is astonishing to me how your analysis of the data includes throwing out what the other Church Fathers have to say so that you can focus on a half-thought expressed in passing by Chrysostom. The idea that you're going to pull of bits of this and that and overturn the mountain of evidence is just complete delusional and disingenuous approach to God's Word. Because at that point, what matters is not where the data actually points, but rather what doctrines you already want to find.

JW said...

You read things into what I wrote and repeatedly put words in my mouth.

My point-by-point response:

1) It's completely reasonable to say that certain verses have greater importance for certain doctrines. That doesn't mean I'm reducing the doctrine of justification down to my reading of two verses.

2) That logizomai has different meanings is attested to by the fact that is translated with different words in English. But the very question of the range of meanings is in dispute. If, as I argued, you can't read Romans 4 with your understanding of logizomai, then the range of meaning must be expanded beyond your categories.

I missed this before, but your article skips over the usage of logizomai in Rom. 4:11. In this verse, logizomai is definitely used in the sense of crediting and cannot be understood as “mental evaluation.” It reads: “…so that righteousness would be counted to them as well.” Righteousness is the object of the verb and is being counted “to them.” This shows that you have missed a category of meaning. The “as well” tells us that this crediting applies to Abraham as well and should inform our reading of Gen. 15:6.
3) I’ve been consistent on this. My original comment raised a question about how “to him” should be understood. I argued that your reading of v. 4 wasn’t the only possible reading of that verse, if read in isolation, and therefore cannot be used to inform v. 3. I have proceeded to argue from other evidence for how logizomai should be read throughout Ch. 4.

4) I didn’t say it was the sole basis. But the ambiguity of the isolated verse means it shouldn’t be used even in part to build your case.

5) You didn’t dispute what I said.

JW said...

1a) This is a straw-man argument and I never said logizomai means “remove” or “transfer.” “Not impute” could be read in idiomatic English as “not hold their sins against them” without conflict with the broader meaning of logizomai. You mix things up here. The object of logizomai is “sins,” not David. You cannot read this as “regard David as.” Reading this as “not regard his sins” actually has a different meaning than “mental evaluation” and shows again that your range of meanings is incomplete.

1b) I will have to read those articles to respond properly. You seem to be assuming that all Protestants have an understanding of imputation of Christ’s active obedience along the lines of some specific Reformed systematicians. I take my view from the Formula of Concord which can be summarized with the sentences: “Therefore, the righteousness of faith before God comes from the free crediting of Christ’s righteousness, without the addition of our works. So our sins are forgiven us and covered and are not charged against us.” The imputation of righteousness is connected to forgiveness. I don’t hold to and am not defending additional points from Reformed ways of speaking.

1c) The word is “covering.” The fact that this is idiom for atonement doesn’t mean the concept of covering is not present. In the remainder of this section you make assertions without providing evidence.
2) Frankly, I don’t understand what you’re arguing with here.
3) I didn’t say “it” doesn’t refer to faith. I said the word “faith” itself wasn’t there. The point is that the emphasis in this section is about the crediting. I can strengthen this argument a little. The phrase “It will be counted to us” is nonsensical if read as “it will be regarded to us,” if regard here means “evaluate.”

4) The question is: what does the “this is why” refer to? You assert without providing an argument that it must refer to the quality of Abraham’s faith rather than the idea of the immediately preceding sentence, Abraham’s trusting in the promise.

5) I quoted Chrysostom as his commentary bears on the question of the meaning of logizomai. Your quote from him addresses a different question. He clearly understand logizomai in a way that’s compatible with “reckon to the believer.”

JW said...

In response to Porphyry:

Not surprisingly, I'm a little skeptical of using a long-lost, extra-biblical fragment to interpret Paul. One obvious question would be: what if the writer(s) of "On the Works of the Law" have an incorrect, unChristian idea of "reckoned as righteous"? We still have to exegete Romans to see what Paul is saying.

Using these fragments also seems like it's coming close to repristination. Why rely on 2nd-temple Jewish writers when there are answers in the Church Fathers? Augustine, contra Jerome, interpreted works of the law to include the moral law. He pointed out that "the law" in Romans 7:7 clearly includes the Decalogue. In his letter to Jerome on this question he also notes that Ambrose agrees with him. The Reformers were following in the footsteps of Ambrose and Augustine.

We also have Pope St. Clement writing near the end of the first century:

"All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men..."

He understands the works that do not justify to include far more than just ceremonial works.

Nick said...

JW,

(1:1) IF your intention is not to reduce the doctrine of Justification down to a few verses, then by all means show us Imputation going on in some other book or chapter of Paul. Paul wrote about Justification many places, yet it seems like Protestants are fixated on a few verses within Romans 4 for how everything else is to be read. That's just a terrible hermeneutic. Galatians is heavily focused on Justification, yet I don't see Protestants turning there for Imputation.

(1:2a) You have given no substantial reason to assume Logizomai has a range of meaning. I have shown that it has a fairly narrow range, including that it never entails a 'transfer' nor does it condone incorrectly attributing something to someone. You're approaching the text without any supporting evidence, while I have done due diligence.

(1:2b) You seem to be suggesting that when Romans says "righteousness is credited to them" it means righteousness is given or transferred to them. That's a presumption. Instead, going with the standard usage, it means God considers them, or mentally regards them as, righteous. If I say "murder is reckoned to you," that doesn't mean I transfer some alien murder status to you, rather it means I consider you a murderer.

When 4:11 says Abraham "received" the sign of circumcision, this certainly doesn't mean God circumcised Abraham, nor that circumcision is some abstract idea transferred to Abraham. When 4:11 speaks of righteousness "he had" by faith, this suggests it wasn't something given to him later on, but 'already had'.

(1:3) I have shown that "wages not counted as debt" makes perfect sense with the "regarded as" reading, and less sense as a balance transfer reading. If you're going to argue ambiguity here, that would merely mean verse 4 supports neither side, which merely takes away one of my proofs but doesn't positively promote your position at all.

(1:4) I don't think v4 is as ambiguous in its usage of Logizomai as you're suggesting, and I hold it must hold the same meaning when used in the same context as 3,5.

(1:5) I simply do not grant your reading of Chrysostom. I see nothing in the context suggesting that righteousness is something forensic and alien imputed to Abraham such that Abraham appeared righteous while not in fact being so. If you're trying to insist that Logizomai means transfer, then by that same token I could just as well assert to transfer righteousness means righteousness was infused into Abraham. Nothing in Chrysostom or the text suggests a negative view of Abraham's soul.

If wages being credited sounds to you like a balance transfer taking place, then that more strongly suggests *infusion* not Imputation.

Nick said...

(2:1a) If Logizomai in your view doesn't mean "remove" or "transfer," then what does it mean? I agree that "not impute" can be read as "not hold their sin against them," so why can it not be read as "not hold sin against David"? What does "not regard his sins" even mean, especially within the context of sins forgiven?

(2:1b) I didn't realize you were Lutheran, but I asked Jordan Cooper about Active Obedience of Christ and he claimed it certainly is part of the Lutheran understanding. But regardless, the quote you gave is in itself ambiguous, since it doesn't actually explain what "Christ's Righteousness" is. Nothing in Romans 4 suggests it was "Christ's" righteousness specifically, as opposed to the righteousness of Abraham or righteousness of God the Father. The quote merely speaks of "sins forgiven and covered and not charged," which sounds a lot like "crediting righteousness" is merely an equivalent way of saying "sins forgiven". In any of these cases, nothing suggests someone who is sinful is simultaneously regarded as righteous.

(2:1c) The term "cover" here, if you grant that it means atonement, would have an abundance of OT evidence linking it with cleansing, sanctification, etc. There is nothing in the OT understanding of Atonement that suggests filth is merely hidden from view, rather than expunged and cleansed. In the companion Psalm 51 which is the same fundamental teaching as Psalm 32, there are clear references to "cleansing" and "washing".

(2:2) The way language works, we can attribute a quality BOTH to a person as a whole and to an individual action that person did. If you say something false, I can say "I reckon John's claim as lying" which can also be said "I reckon lying to John". There's no reason to think "lying" is some alien status that floats around and comes to rest upon you.

(2:3) Romans 4:22 says: "That is why his *faith* was “counted to him as righteousness.”" The word "faith" doesn't have to be in verse 23 for the reference to be abundantly obvious what "it" means. The "it" is faith. If faith is "credited unto us" what does that even mean if there's transferring going on? It can only mean faith was given unto the one who believes, which is nonsense. Nothing in 4:18-22 suggests the emphasis is "crediting", nor does the chapter really make "crediting" an emphasis. The idea of "crediting" by itself is abstract and tells us nothing theological. The chapter is emphasizing Abraham's fatherhood and children and faith.

Abraham believed in God and righteousness was credited unto him as righteousness? That hardly makes sense. Clearly, "faith" is what is being "credited," so you're completely stuck because you must now read the faith as what is imputed. Abraham believed in God, and his faith was transferred to him is likewise nonsense. So what does "faith was counted unto him" even mean?

(2:4) I provided a perfectly coherent argument. The "this is why faith was credited" ties into what was just talked about, namely verses 18-22, where we see Paul explaining Abraham's belief. To trim this down to just verse 22 is total desperation, since it is artificially restricting Paul's thought for no good reason, as 22 isn't even a complete sentence on its own and Paul is speaking of "belief" throughout the prior sentences. I think you are totally trapped by the fact the text repeatedly says faith is the object of the crediting, because Imputation of Christ's Faith unto the believer is a nonsense idea.



Nick said...

There's not much reason to respond to each point I gave individually, so feel free to trim it down to essentials. I think your above claims are sufficiently refuted by these three facts:

(a) the repeated references to FAITH as the object of crediting

(b) no good reason to read Abraham as having nothing holy, righteous, etc, about himself

(c) if wages "not credited as debt" has in view a balance transfer, such that wages are paid, or something similar, then you cannot assume Imputation over and against infusion

(d) if "righteousness is credited to him" means righteousness was given, bestowed, transferred, etc, then logically there's no reason to read this as Imputation rather than (equally possible) infusion

JW said...

I'm probably done posting after this, but this has been edifying. Here are a few points I think are essential:

-Reading Genesis 15:6 as referring to God evaluating the righteous quality of Abraham's faith (your original claim) doesn't square with Romans 4, especially v. 11, simply because "righteousness was credited to him" is different than "God decided his faith had a righteous quality."

-"Evaluating" and "crediting" are different, so your original article misses a meaning.

-Romans 4 (especially 4:4-5) clearly teaches this crediting is a gracious act of God; if God merely correctly evaluates the character of Abraham's faith, that is not gracious, but deserved. (Relates to item b).

I still think it's worthwhile to respond to some of the individual points.

1:1) Imputation is taught in 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24, etc., but you know that is the Protestant view. If Romans 4 clearly teaches the doctrine of imputation, then it's correct to say that Scripture teaches this doctrine. I would fully acknowledge that Scripture talks about justification in different ways, but the imputation language is important and taught here.

1:2a, b, 2:3 (and points a, c and d of final comment)) The language of Scripture here is "righteousness is credited to us," and that's how (at least some) Protestants speak about this. Some meaning is lost if you change this to "God considers them, or mentally regards them as, righteous." I admit the similarity and this doesn't conflict with the Protestant view, but 1) this is not God evaluating the quality of faith, and 2) the change you suggest obscures the gracious aspect of crediting and is a shift from the Pauline language. Credit doesn't mean give or transfer, therefore this doesn't teach infusion. We understand a distinction between having something in your hands and having it "on paper." The error here is demanding that Protestants must hold the banking analogy of the word "crediting" too literally. There's some metaphor involved in all of this.

Faith being the object of credit doesn't mean faith is given. Here's an analogy that, admittedly, obscures some meaning and shouldn't be taken too literally, but I think conveys the sense: If I bring gold bars to a bank and they credit my account with dollars, we can say "the bank credited the gold bars to me as dollars." Gold bars (which I had before) are the object of the verb credit and I also am credited dollars. Paul's language can have faith as the object and still teach that we are credited with righteousness.

1:3-4) Romans 4:11 tells us that righteousness was credited to Abraham which resolves the ambiguity of v. 4 in favor of "wages credited to the one who works," which is the sense of the NIV and Douay-Rheims/Vulgate.

2:1b) I don't deny that Lutherans teach the imputation of Christ's Active Obedience. Your point about v. 8 seems to be a criticism of the way the Reformed talk about this, which goes beyond what the Lutheran Confessions say. Frankly, I would have to look into this.

2:1c) Here you seem to be turning "covering" language into "cleansing" language, rather than letting Scripture speak about the mystery with different words.

2:4) The quality of Abraham's faith is one aspect of v. 18-22. Your reading reduces the "this is why" to referencing this one aspect, so we're both in the same position with trying to assess what the reference is. Looking at v. 16 and v. 22, I see a connection with trusting the promise.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

I read this, your magnum opus. You are to be commended for your efforts. But I have to wonder, at the end of the day, if you really understand what Protestants mean by "imputation."

One word that you single out for scrutiny is the word “transfer.” It is often used by theologians to explain what is meant by “imputation.” The problem, however, is that you never bother to define that word for us. Nor is there any interaction with those whom you cite to delve deeper into what they might mean by that word.

In a loose sense, “transfer” can be a synonym for “impute.” But when we get down to details, it falls far short of what the Reformers meant by imputation. If I “transfer” money from my bank account to yours, then your account increases and mine decreases. But that’s not what happens when Adam’s guilt and corruption are transferred to his posterity. Adam doesn’t become less guilty and less corrupt, much less entirely guiltless or entirely without corruption. Likewise, if Christ transfers his righteousness to the sinner, Christ himself doesn’t cease to be righteous. So, depending upon your definition of “transfer,” the word may or may not be synonymous with imputation. And even when it does overlap with imputation, it doesn't exhaust its meaning. There's just so much more involved with the idea than transference, and therefore your long word study on logizomai doesn't really make a case against the broader concept of imputation.

In fact, "imputation" may not be the best word at the end of the day to describe the connection between Adam's sin and ours, our sin and Christ's atonement, and Christ's righteousness and ours.

No, I don't think the word "transfer" is adequate to explain all that is entailed by imputation. I don't even know if "imputation" is really the best term at the end of the day. It's just that, to date, I can't think of a better term.

My suspicion is that your real issue is with the Reformers' idea of being simul justus et peculator. That doesn't work in Rome's system, because yours is based on categories drawn from ontology, whereas the Reformers were trying to define biblical terms by drawing from the world of jurisprudence. Five hundred years later, both sides have come a lot closer to understanding what Paul meant.

I also suspect the "legal fiction" objection is really what's driving all this. That objection says that God cannot declare something righteous that isn't actually righteous in fact.

But from our perspective, that begs the question, because it assumes at the outset that the kind or righteousness in view is ontological in nature. But it isn't. Paul had no trouble affirming both his "blameless" righteousness under the law and that this same righteousness in light of the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ was to be considered nothing but "loss." (See Philippians 3). In fact, Paul says that all those who strive to be righteous under the law are in fact putting confidence in their own flesh. He says this even to those who are already justified and he knows that even those who have the righteousness that comes from God are still mired in a struggle against the flesh and will be until their death.

In other words, Paul says that even a "new creation" in Christ is still someone who will have to contend with the flesh. That's what the Reformers meant by "simultaneously justified and sinner." So it's not the case that God would be lying if He were to call someone "holy" who is not. That's to frame the objection much too narrowly. The fact of the matter is that even your tradition affirms that we are both saints and sinners at the same time. It does not use imputation categories to explain how that can be, but it still has to explain that reality in some way.

Michael Taylor said...

continued...

Your church opts for "infused righteousness." But that's because it conceives of the grace of justification as a substance that produces ontological change, as if grace were a medicine that gets injected into us and then heals us of all sin so that we can become righteous.

Protestants would not see justification in those terms, but we are remarkably similar when we think of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the difference between legal standing and becoming righteous in practice is something Protestantism does address. We just don't put it into the category of justification. That's more of a sanctification issue. But because Catholics do not sharply distinguish between justification and sanctification, it is easy to talk past one another.

Porphyry said...

@JW: The argument from external texts is not decisive and is not intended to be- but you cannot simply ignore the use of idioms like this when they appear in other texts from the same period and from the same culture, because they point towards a common understanding of some term or phrase. This is just standard procedure for discerning the meaning of phrases in the proper historical context.

I am well aware that the Reformers attempted to locate their doctrines in the writings of Augustine, Ambrose, and others. The problem is that they cherry pick the writings of these Church fathers and emphasize their anti-pelagian writings to the almost complete exclusion of everything else. Taking their thought as a whole, there is simply no way you can honestly portray either St. Augustine or St. Ambrose as a forerunner of the Reformed doctrines. If you seriously think this, you cannot possibly have read much of what they wrote outside of what appears on the standard Reformed Seminary syllabus. This is why I stand by my comment that the Reformers displayed an unfortunate tendency to project their own pet obsessions with the monergism/synergism debate backwards onto both the Pauline writings and the Church Fathers.

Michael Taylor said...

>>Porph>>I am well aware that the Reformers attempted to locate their doctrines in the writings of Augustine, Ambrose, and others. The problem is that they cherry pick the writings of these Church fathers and emphasize their anti-pelagian writings to the almost complete exclusion of everything else.<<

That's a laughable canard when considering Rome's own "cherry-picking" is exponentially more egregious. Consider: Protestants--in the first place--do not extend infallibility to Tradition, and therefore they do not look to the church fathers as being able to articulate that allegedly on-par, infallible tradition that can only be known by what Rome says is infallible tradition. But when you look at magisterial documents, there are copious references to the church fathers. So Rome is saying, on the one hand, Tradition is infallible, but not the individual writings of the fathers. But when we try to dig down into what that tradition actually is, it turns out that Rome is absolutely dependent upon the writings of the fathers, who are themselves fallible. But which fathers, exactly? That all depends. Magisterial documents frequently make demonstrably false historical claims, especially when they claim unanimous consent of the church fathers. So in reality, it is Rome who "cherry picks" the fathers because they have to. And in the case of papal infallibility and some of the Marian doctrines, cherry picking isn't nearly enough because there really isn't anything there to scavenge.

Protestants have no problem "holding fast to what is good" and dispensing with the rest, because we don't claim that the fathers are on par with the higher standard of scripture in the first place. So of course we cherry pick. What of it? You're supposed to cherry pick from fallible sources, retaining what they got right and jettisoning the rest.

>>Taking their thought as a whole, there is simply no way you can honestly portray either St. Augustine or St. Ambrose as a forerunner of the Reformed doctrines.<<

How can you begin to define "their thought as a whole?" That's ephemeral nonsense. If this were a debate on ecclesiology or baptism, I'd gladly concede that Augustine was far closer to Rome. But his doctrines of predestination, his anthropology (taking his retractions into view) are definitely closer to Reformed Protestantism.

On this issue of freewill and grace, Augustine is best read by Calvin and Thomas, both of whom come down solidly on the side of subordinating human free agency to divine Providence. In other words, the Augustinian tradition *within* Roman Catholicism has far more in common with Calvin than, say, the Molinist tradition.

>> This is why I stand by my comment that the Reformers displayed an unfortunate tendency to project their own pet obsessions with the monergism/synergism debate backwards onto both the Pauline writings and the Church Fathers.<<

That oversimplifies the theology of the Reformers while at the same time overlooking the Roman Catholic tendency to read virtually everything it believes all the way back to apostles, even though no historian to date can trace many of Rome's distinctive that far back.

As for monergism/synergism, that's an intramural debate within both Protestantism and Catholicism. But I think the prevailing position within in Catholicism has far more in common with the Arminian position. Any idea of non-regenerating, sufficient prevenient grace given to all, takes you outside of the Augustinian position that you find in both Calvinism and Thomism. But both views are minority positions within their respective camps.








JW said...

If we don't know the exact relationship between Paul and the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it's completely possible Paul intended to contradict their understanding of terms. Particularly on the question of "reckon as righteousness," we know Paul had the story of Abraham (in the LXX) in mind.

On the particular question at hand, the reformers didn't just attempt to locate their doctrines in the writings of Augustine, they were successful. They were in agreement. On this question, Ambrose and Augustine were certainly forerunners of Protestant doctrines.

I would honestly claim that Augustine and Ambrose and others were forerunners of Lutheran doctrines and, as Michael Taylor pointed out, there are a number of important ideas shared among branches of Protestantism that are found in Augustine and he named specifics.

I would also point out that reading the Fathers with some skepticism and rejecting errors is how they would have us read them. They explicitly denied infallibility and appealed to Scripture. Here's John Chrysostom:

"There comes a heathen and says, "I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?" How shall we answer him? "Each of you" (says he) "asserts, 'I speak the truth.'" No doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule." (Homily 33 in Acts of the Apostles NPNF1,11:210-11)

If you want to see clearly how we all read the Fathers "selectively," read Origen's and Chrysostom's commentary on Matt. 16:18. It's interesting to think about why Chrysostom in the 4th century felt so comfortable saying the "rock" of 16:18 is Peter's faith. Then note how the Father's frequently talk about the ransom theory of atonement with the idea that Christ paid a ransom to Satan. There's good reason we all avoid that language now.

Nick said...

JW, some 'final' reflections on what you said:

-I do not see how you have been able to harmonize the two statements in Romans 4: "righteousness reckoned to him" AND "faith was reckoned as righteousness" - I have given a fair explanation, using a simple analogy of Bob stealing from a bank: "theft was reckoned to Bob" and "his action was reckoned as theft"

-I do not see how you can make the argument Abraham had nothing righteous, honorable, etc, about himself, as Paul suggests nothing of the sort

-You are committing a fallacy to think that if God correctly evaluates the character of Abraham's faith, then there is no grace involved. God doesn't have to bless Abraham just for having faith, even if faith is a good thing. Just because you help an old woman cross the street doesn't mean you deserve one million dollars, even if your act was a good one. If you are given one million dollars for helping an old woman cross the street, that is very much a gracious gift.

-You said Imputation is taught in 1 Cor 1:30, 2 Cor 5:21, and 1 Peter 2:24. Needless to say, I don't grant that claim in the slightest, and these texts are absent of any such imputation language (including Logizomai).

-Your "gold bars are credited as dollars" example means the gold bars hold the equivalent value as dollars. This fits precisely with how I have consistently argued Logizomai is used. Faith is seen, or regarded by God, as having the quality/value of righteousness.

-The "covering" language is "atonement" language, and when you look into what atonement refers to, it refers to expunging sin. The Hebrew term for "atonement" means "to cover", but the Bible doesn't mean covering in the sense of hiding, but rather covering over in the sense of healing. This is why on the Day of Atonement, there is atonement made for various objects that were defiled, as well as persons: "on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins"

Nick said...

Michael,

Your comments are a defense of Imputation on rational grounds. I understand how the English word "impute" can mean various things, including perfectly logical things. That's why I didn't talk in general in the Article, but rather on the specific term, a Biblical term, Logizomai. Your two comments evaluating my Article do not directly address Logizomai at all, much less is there any Scripture actually quoted. One of the gravest dangers in Theology is assuming a teaching is true simply because it sounds good or even because it gives glory to God. But that's not what makes something a doctrine.

I cite a sufficient number of respected conservative Reformed Theologians who admit that Imputation of Christ's Righteousness is nowhere plainly taught in the Bible that it is quite reasonable to doubt it is actually a Biblical teaching, much less a Dogma.

If you're curious on my thoughts of Philippians 3, I made a post on that very issue a few months ago.

JW said...

Final point:

If Scripture defines for you what grace is, you shouldn't change it.

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God"

"And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works."

Whatever works Abraham had did not contribute to his righteousness before God.

Nick said...

JW, you should read this other article I did on that passage, in which I present a 'unique' take on the matter that isn't the typical stuff you hear on the passage:

https://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2019/09/revisiting-abrahams-faith-reckoned-as.html

Michael Taylor said...

@Nick,

>>Your two comments evaluating my Article do not directly address Logizomai at all,<<

True. That's because I don't dispute the various meanings it can have. My point wasn't that you've misdefined logizomai; rather it was to say that imputation, as the Reformed tradition understands that term, goes way beyond the various meanings we can assign to that word.

Your argument, despite the 30 plus pages you use to make it is as follows:

1. Imputation means to transfer.
2. Protestants think logizomai (and a few other words) mean imputation, and therefore imputation is biblical.
3. But (at least some) modern Protestant scholars freely admit that it (logizomai) does not carry that meaning.
4. Therefore imputation (in the Reformed sense) isn't taught in scripture.
5. And those same scholars agree that scripture doesn't teach imputation.

Response to premise 1: Define "transfer." As I showed you in my original reply, that's a woefully inadequate definition of imputation. If I transfer something from my account to yours, my account decreases and yours increases. But in none of the 3 classic Imputations is there a decrease in the creditor, only an increase in the credited. So "transfer" probably isn't the right word.

I agree with premise 2 and 3

Response to conclusion 4: This is where you go off the rails. Your entire argument assumes that imputation resets on a single word (and a few synonyms.). It does not. Imputation is taught where logizomai and friends are never to be found.

Response to conclusion 5: That way overreaches. D.A. Carson believes in imputation, even though he would be the first to tell you that there is no one word in Greek that conveys everything the Reformers meant by that term and that Paul himself never explicitly teaches the 3 imputations. But he would say everything Paul and the rest of scripture presents us adds up to the doctrine--much like the Trinity.

That's what makes this statement of yours so misleading:

>>"I cite a sufficient number of respected conservative Reformed Theologians who admit that Imputation of Christ's Righteousness is nowhere plainly taught in the Bible<<

If "plainly" means explicitly, then I agree. The same could be said of the Trinity, the hypostatic union and a number of other things that, at the end of the day, are the only possible conclusion from the biblical data. So what?

Porphyry said...

If the mere rejection of semi-pelagianism were sufficient to make Augustine a forerunner of the reformed view, then nobody would contest this reading of him. But the reformed view is much more than that, and includes further teachings (forensic justification, imputation, the rejection of merit, the sharp distinction between sanctification and justification, etc.) which are difficult if not impossible to square with what these figures clearly taught and believed as expressed elsewhere in their writings. So too with the appropriation of Aquinas, whose understanding of divine causation is much more sophisticated that what you find in Calvin. Calvin elides entirely the distinction between primary and secondary causation, the difference between permitting and directly causing, and the difference between foreknowing and foreordaining in ways that Aquinas simply does not. "Closer to Calvin than to Molina" is thus a very low bar to clear in this context, and hardly vindicates any claim to continuity with the Angelic doctor. The Catholic view is indeed more similar to Arminianism but the application of those categories to any intramural Catholic discussion is apt to be misleading.

As for the "cherry picking" charge, your response is tu quoue and ultimately irrelevant. It is irrelevant because Magisterial documents do not carry the entire burden of theological argument, because authentic Magisterium is at bottom multi-tiered and interwoven with praxis. A document meant to promulgate a teaching rarely purports to lay out the entire argument for it. The writings of the reformers, by contrast *are* supposed to carry the burden of argument, because by their own admission the legitimacy of the reformation turns on whether they were correct on the matter of justification. If they weren't, and if their doctrines were in fact in discontinuity with the consensus of the early church, then the whole project is illegitimate from its very inception.

Nick said...

Michael,

Your definition of "imputation" runs into a few problems:

(1a) The Philemon 1:18 proof text is such that whatever debts Onesimus owed, those debts were transferred to Paul's account. They did not have a shared account. Rather, it was taken from O and transferred to Paul, using the imagery of a balance *transfer*. So 'transfer' is very much what all those Protestants were intending to say, even if they didn't mean to.

(1b) This leads to an astonishing realization, namely that Philemon 1:18 actually contradicts the very thing Protestants wish to teach. The credit is by no means increased, for the old owner no longer owns the rights/title to what left him. This means that Jesus would have had to lose His Righteousness when giving it to us, as would Adam have had to lose his guilt when giving it to us. Indeed, that's the whole point of us giving our guilt to Jesus, and the Protestant understanding of Scapegoat and Sacrifices, where our sin is placed upon the animal and removed from us.

(1c) Which brings up an another interesting dilemma, namely that what happens in the OT Sacrifices when sin is placed upon the animal but the animal isn't properly sacrificed? Does the guilt re-impute back to the individual, even if the animal is dead?

(2a) Under your claim that simply more people fall under the umbrella of whatever a person owns, this would need to be shown from Scripture, this 'shared guilt' or 'shared righteousness' rather than "imputation"

(2b) It is by no means a given that imputation can work in any other than Top-Down, that is Federal Head downwards. The whole point of Federal Head is that their actions affect the family below them. But then how can our personal guilt get imputed 'upwards' to a different Federal Head?

(2c) Jesus could not take away Adam's imputed guilt to us without also taking away Adam's guilt at its source, namely at Adam himself. This would mean Jesus thus strips everyone from Adam's guilt. The only alternative is that the Believer somehow ceases to be Adam's child, or that Adam no longer has Federal Headship over them, but if that's the case then Adam's guilt need not follow them if they are (somehow) no longer under his dominion.

(2d) It would seem that Jesus would Himself have to be seen as simul iustus et peccator, for Jesus Himself would be simultaneously righteous and sinner, both in the legal sense, which is a blatant contradiction.

(3) I am not convinced that there can be such a thing as a Second Federal Head. That is a contradiction in terms. Jesus can only be above Adam, below Adam, or wholly different than Adam (i.e. not a Federal Head).

(4a) For Imputation to be taught where the term Logizomai and friends is "nowhere to be found," this would mean that you admit Romans 4 isn't teaching Imputation. That's a serious admission. But if Romans 4 is teaching Imputation, then you're forced to say Logizomai is about Imputation, even if it is also taught elsewhere.

(4b) If Imputation is taught elsewhere, where imputation language isn't even used, then how do you know those texts must be speaking of Imputation? That seems like begging the question.

(5) IF you agree with Carson that there is no one word that plainly conveys Imputation, and that Paul nowhere clearly teaches the 3 Imputations, and that Imputation is akin to the Trinity in the Bible, this is a yuge hit for Perspicuity. Magisterial intervention is required when doctrines like the Trinity needed clarification, hence the Creeds and Councils.

Porphyry said...

To add some substance to my earlier charge of cherry-picking with regards to Augustine: Go back and re-read one of his anti-pelagian writings, take "On Grace and Free Will" or "On The Letter and The Spirit". Augustine displays a particular pattern of exposition: On most topics he leads with a bold unqualified statement that is a hard contrast with that of his opponents. But he then proceeds to build in various qualifications and nuances that flesh that position out and qualify it. The general method of the reformers is take the bold unqualified statement and extrapolate from it, while ignoring the various nuances and qualifications that are introduced later. Augustine says many things about the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, say, that initially sound very Calvin-like, but not when you read further and recognize that he is positing a congruity between divine action and the action of the sinner's will. He speaks of "secret judgments" of God, but not of the utter inscrutable will that you see discussed in the Reformers. "Secret" needn't mean "seemingly arbitrary and unintelligible" which is what Luther and Calvin at times seem to draw from it. (I say "seem" because they too will qualify their position in various ways) But, again, the reformers take one side of the Augustinian formulation and extrapolate out from it while ignoring all of the subsequent qualifications which push the view back towards the Catholic understanding. There is nothing in Augustine's formula "evil for evil, good for evil, grace for grace" that can serve as a "tie breaker" between the Tridentine view of grace and that of the Reformers, unless you stick with the gross misunderstandings of merit which permeate the writings of Calvin. "grace for grace" just *is* the Tridentine understanding of merit; it is not the spurious charge of "works righteousness" and "divine indebtedness" that bulks large in the writings of those looking to hang the charge of semi-pelagianism on Trent.

This all matters, taking the long view, because breaking up the ancient church is no small matter; you can't have adequate reason to do it unless the Catholic Church had so badly mangled the doctrine of justification that its teachings posed a barrier to salvation. And that charge cannot be made lightly- you have to show it is a) overwhelmingly proved from scripture and tradition and b) that it is grounded in the authentic and ancient gospel taught by the apostolic church and its rightful successors. The reformers did neither of these things- in fact, they didn't even come *close* to doing these things. And if you can't even find a toehold in the ancient church via Augustine, the whole reformation project is doomed- it's all flagrant rebellion against rightful authority and disobedience to Christ.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

>>Your definition of "imputation" runs into a few problems:<<

What definition? I never offered one. I even stated that "imputation" may not be the right word at the end of the day to describe all that comes under its rubric.

>>(1a) The Philemon 1:18 proof text is such that whatever debts Onesimus owed, those debts were transferred to Paul's account. They did not have a shared account. Rather, it was taken from O and transferred to Paul, using the imagery of a balance *transfer*. So 'transfer' is very much what all those Protestants were intending to say, even if they didn't mean to.<<

>>[Sigh]. If Onesimus has an account, and if it is imputed to Paul, then Onesimus' debt goes down and Paul's debt goes up. But that is *not* the case with any of the 3 imputations. Adam doesn't become less guilty, neither do we, and Christ doesn't become less righteous. So again, it all depends upon how we are to understand the word "transfer," which in any case is only one possible meaning of "impute," and not the *only* meaning it can have, especially when we are using it as a technical theological term. <<

>>(1b) This leads to an astonishing realization, namely that Philemon 1:18 actually contradicts the very thing Protestants wish to teach. The credit is by no means increased, for the old owner no longer owns the rights/title to what left him.<<

What is it exactly that you think that we think this verse teaches? "Charge it to my account" doesn't begin to cover all that goes into the doctrine of imputation. Just because ellogeo can be translated as "impute," doesn't mean that every connotation of the English word "impute" can be "imputed" (pun intended) back to ellogeo. The idea is simple. Whatever O owes, Paul will assume his debt for him. The idea is substitutionary. O no longer owes. Paul now does. That's definitely *not* the opposite of what Protestants mean by imputation.

>>This means that Jesus would have had to lose His Righteousness when giving it to us, as would Adam have had to lose his guilt when giving it to us.<<

That would be true IF that's what we mean by "impute." But we don't. You're setting up a straw man. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously with arguments like that?

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

You said:>> Indeed, that's the whole point of us giving our guilt to Jesus, and the Protestant understanding of Scapegoat and Sacrifices, where our sin is placed upon the animal and removed from us.<<

First, there is no single "Protestant understanding" of the scapegoat. Some have interpreted it in a way consistent with penal substitution, and I would agree that such is a *possible* inference. But it is by no means clear what the gesture of laying hands upon the goat actually was intended to signify. So I certainly wound't appeal to the scapegoat as necessarily implying imputation. But assuming that it does, what would be conveyed here? It would signify that guilt leaves the sinner and that the goat bears it away. That would be analogous to the 2nd imputation. Our guilt leaves us and is born away by the sinless lamb of God. Such imagery would seem to combine elements of the paschal lamb (1 Cor. 5:7) and the substitutionary atonement (1 Peter 2:24). It that sense, it looks like our debt/guilt decreases while that of the paschal victim (Christ) increases. Such a thought is no trouble to Paul who says, "He made him who knew no sin to be sin so that *in him* we might become the righteousness of God" (1 Cor. 5:21).

to be continued

Michael Taylor said...

>>(1c) Which brings up an another interesting dilemma, namely that what happens in the OT Sacrifices when sin is placed upon the animal but the animal isn't properly sacrificed? Does the guilt re-impute back to the individual, even if the animal is dead?<<

No idea. But since "Christ our passover is sacrificed," and his was a perfect sacrifice, there's nothing to worry about.

>>(2a) Under your claim that simply more people fall under the umbrella of whatever a person owns, this would need to be shown from Scripture, this 'shared guilt' or 'shared righteousness' rather than "imputation"<<

I am not following you here. Where did I make umbrella claims?

Let me suggest something that will help you to understand imputation from our perspective (assuming you're open to learning what it is rather than looking for another argument to trash Protestantism....a big assumption): There is absolutely no way to understand the imputed guilt of Adam or the imputed righteousness of Christ apart from understanding what it means to be "in Adam" (1 Cor. 15:22) and "in him [Christ]" (e.g., 1 Cor. 5:21). To understand what it means to be "in" someone, you need to delve into the realm of corporate personality, where most often one person stands for the collective many, or even sometimes the other way around, such as when Paul points to himself as being the remnant of Israel (Romans 11:1-2).

While it is tempting to think of Adam's guilt and ours as "shared," or "collective," that isn't quite right. Adam is still responsible for his own guilt. But, because we were "in Adam," there is a sense that we participated in his action, so that we too are guilty (not because of what he did), but because of what *we did* in Adam. That's a hard concept for us living far away in time and space from the thought world of the Near East. It's analogous to trying to make sense of Hebrews 7:9-10: "One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him." So Levi both did and did not pay tithes to Melchizedek. He did not because he wasn't actually there. But in another sense ("in the loins") he *was* there.

That's the best analogy I can think of off hand to understand what we mean by being "in Adam." His guilt is imputed to us, insofar as we are not literally him. But at the same time, it is still our guilt, because we are him in the same way Levi was (so to speak) Abraham in Hebrews 7:9-10.

In the Reformed tradition, all of this gets put under the heading of "Federal headship." But I prefer "corporate personality" as being more precisely biblical. It is, by the way, the only way to overcome Ezekiel's objection (18:19-20). If we are not "in Adam" then it is impossible for his guilt to be imputed to us. Likewise, if Jesus has not for our sake been "made sin," then it is impossible for our sin to be imputed to him. And if we are not "in Christ," then it is impossible for his righteousness to be imputed to us, and Paul could never have said what he said in Philippians 3:8-9.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

I'm going to interrupt my response to you in order to make a quick response to something you said to JW:

>>(d) if "righteousness is credited to him" means righteousness was given, bestowed, transferred, etc, then logically there's no reason to read this as Imputation rather than (equally possible) infusion<<

You're right. "Logically" another term could be used. But *exegetically* and *theologically* "infusion" is the wrong word to be used in conjunction with "righteousness."

That doesn't mean "infusion" would be the wrong word for other concepts. For example, I think you could make the case for the "infusion" of the Holy Spirit.

But strictly speaking, "righteousness" isn't a substance. The Counter-Reformers were infused (pun intended) in the thought world of scholasticism, which for centuries had understood grace as a substance. To them, it made perfect sense to say that grace is infused. Why wouldn't it be if grace is a metaphysical substance? They also transposed the biblical concept of righteousness into their own categories of grace, so that being righteous and being in the state of grace, were one and the same concept. But if grace is a substance, then [I]mutatis mutandes[/I], so too must be righteousness. Biblical righteousness, however, isn't a substance in the sense the Counter-Reformers would have understood. It is a term that comes from the thought world of the Hebrew town gate, where legal verdicts of righteousness were determined. As such it is a forensic term, not a metaphysical term. And so "infusion" would be a mismatch. But as I said before, that doesn't mean there's no place for the term.

Let's put it this way. The same person who is declared righteous in God's tribunal is also going to be *infused* with the Holy Spirit and His gifts. But righteousness speaks to our salvation from the legal standpoint, whereas infusion would speak to our sanctification experientially.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

Again, all you're doing here is setting up another straw man (your idiosyncratic understanding of Federal headship) and then nocking it down. But what you say here is unrecognizable as anything we would believe:

>>2b) It is by no means a given that imputation can work in any other than Top-Down, that is Federal Head downwards. The whole point of Federal Head is that their actions affect the family below them. But then how can our personal guilt get imputed 'upwards' to a different Federal Head?<<

Who ever said (on our side) that Federal headship implies only a top-down imputation? Again, it all comes down to understanding what it means to be "in Adam" and "in Christ." Unpacking that will lead you to a better understanding of what we mean by Federal headship. And even then, there is no *one* understanding of Federal headship among Protestants, and not even all Protestants would agree with the concept.

But everyone has to account for the following:

1. The ironclad connection between Adam and us (1 Cor. 15:22).
2. The ironclad connection between Christ and our sin (1 Cor. 5:21).
3. The ironclad connection between Christ's righteousness and us (Philippians 3:8-9).

Infusion doesn't explain these connections. Impartation isn't a terrible explanation. Imputation seems to be the best explanation to date. But perhaps we can do better.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

(>>2c) Jesus could not take away Adam's imputed guilt to us without also taking away Adam's guilt at its source, namely at Adam himself....blah, blah, blah<<

Um...but we are "in Adam" prior to conversion, and so when Christ takes away the guilt of all those "in Adam" (including Adam himself), why would there be any issue of forgiveness drying up at its source?

Again, it's as if you'll resort to any means, fair or foul, if it provides you with any ammunition against Protestantism. But your arguments don't even make sense within their own narrative framework, and in any case, don't interact with ours.


Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

>>(3) I am not convinced that there can be such a thing as a Second Federal Head. That is a contradiction in terms. Jesus can only be above Adam, below Adam, or wholly different than Adam (i.e. not a Federal Head).<<

And yet Paul calls Jesus "the last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45). So if it is proper to understand the first Adam as the Federal Head of fallen humanity, why can't we understand Christ as the Federal Head--the "life-giving Spirit" of regenerate humanity?

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

>>(2d) It would seem that Jesus would Himself have to be seen as simul iustus et peccator, for Jesus Himself would be simultaneously righteous and sinner, both in the legal sense, which is a blatant contradiction. <<

And yet Paul says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).

Of course Paul isn't saying that Jesus is himself a sinner. But as the Federal Head or corporate representative of His body, there is a sense in which he can be considered to be "peccator," ("made sin") et justus ("who knew no sin"). That's the mystery that imputation purports to speak into (but never fully define).

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

>>4a) For Imputation to be taught where the term Logizomai and friends is "nowhere to be found," this would mean that you admit Romans 4 isn't teaching Imputation. That's a serious admission. But if Romans 4 is teaching Imputation, then you're forced to say Logizomai is about Imputation, even if it is also taught elsewhere.<<

Oh boy. Um, no.

You just referenced Philemon 1:18 as a place where Protestants infer imputation, even though "logizomai" is not used. That doesn't require us to now abandon Romans 4 as place to find imputation.

All black cats are animals. But not all black animals are cats. Your logic--such that it is--alludes me.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

>>(4b) If Imputation is taught elsewhere, where imputation language isn't even used, then how do you know those texts must be speaking of Imputation? That seems like begging the question.<<

I think you're the one begging the question. You seem to be saying that in order for imputation to be taught elsewhere, the word imputation itself must be used, which assumes at the outset the very thing you have yet to prove--namely that the very word itself is required in order to speak of imputation.

Be that as it may, it is clear to me that you are equivocating my terms. There are Greek words like logizomai and ellogeo that *can* be translated as imputation. So here I am using "imputation" in the strict sense of the word itself. But imputation is also a broader theological concept that includes a complex of theological ideas, like Federal Headship / corporate representation, substitutionary/vicarious atonement etc. Context makes clear which meaning of the term is in mind. You can't meld them together to create yet another straw man, only easily kick it down (like you're attempting to do here).

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

>>(5) IF you agree with Carson that there is no one word that plainly conveys Imputation, and that Paul nowhere clearly teaches the 3 Imputations, and that Imputation is akin to the Trinity in the Bible, this is a yuge hit for Perspicuity. Magisterial intervention is required when doctrines like the Trinity needed clarification, hence the Creeds and Councils.<<

Truth isn't determined by "magisterial" decree (witness all the demonstrable errors your Magisterium has made in its alleged "infallible" decrees...).

Perspicuity, as the Reformers understood that term...well, as IƱigo Montoya said, "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

Here's what Carson and I mean when we say Paul doesn't *explicitly* teach the 3 Imputations. It means....wait for it....he doesn't *explicitly* teach the 3 imputations. But we both say that the 3 Imputations are *implicit* in Paul and that the implications of his teaching are clear to anyone willing to see them.

Again, consider the 3 ironclad connections everyone must explain:

1. Adam's sin and us. Were we "infused" with his guilt? No--because "guilt" is a legal, not substantive. Was his guilt "imparted" to us? That depends upon what you mean by "impart." But more precise is the word "impute," as this comes from the same legal sphere.

2. Our sin and Christ: Was our sin "infused" into Christ? Perhaps we could think of the corruption of our sin being so infused. But scripture says he "bore" our sin on the cross--so it seems like sin is placed upon him, not injected into him. Was our sin "imparted" to him? Again, it's not a terrible word. But it doesn't quite capture the guilt aspect of sin. Once again, "impute" seems to be more precise, even though, by itself, it cannot begin to do justice to all that Christ did for us on the cross.

3. Christ's righteousness and us: Was his righteousness "infused" into us? No. Righteousness isn't a substance. Was it imparted? That gets us a bit closer. Was it imputed? I think so, because once again, righteousness is a forensic term. Paul wants to be found in him, not having a righteousness based on legal compliance, but rather a righteousness from God. That sounds far more like imputation than infusion.

Even if imputation isn't as "clear" in Paul as we might like it to be, what is clear as day is that "infused righteousness" was the furthest thing from his mind.

Nick said...

Michael,

You have posted 11 comments in a row, which I cannot simply respond to one by one. Here are my thoughts on the important points:

(A) I am writing up an article on Philemon 1:18, since this is the favorite proof-text of many famous classical Reformed Theologians for demonstrating Imputation. I agree with you that Philemon 1:18 does not actually support Imputation.

(B) I don't think you can build too much of a case using the language of "in Adam" and "in Christ" because the phrase itself doesn't give us much to work with. The very 1 Cor 15:22 passage even gives us the language of "made alive," which is not an Imputation category. If we use Paul's analogy of a tree branch being grafted "in", that isn't automatically Imputation. The vine gives life to the branches, which is the concept of infusion.

(C) I don't agree with your depiction of us being guilty of Adam's sin "because there is a sense that we participated in his actions". The Hebrews 7:9-10 analogy fails because when Christ's Righteousness is imputed to us, that would mean "we participated in Christ's actions", which kind of defeats the point of Sola Fide. Similarly, if our guilt is imputed to Christ, then by that same logic, "there is a sense in which Christ participated in our sinful actions," when He obviously did not.

(D) You said: /// If we are not "in Adam" then it is impossible for his guilt to be imputed to us. Likewise, if Jesus has not for our sake been "made sin," then it is impossible for our sin to be imputed to him. And if we are not "in Christ," then it is impossible for his righteousness to be imputed to us///

Your middle sentence is inconsistent. There is no "in X" or "corporate personality" for your middle sentence. There is no Federal Head like there is for the first and third sentence.

(E) Righteousness is a quality or disposition of the soul. It is not some forensic status that means "perfectly kept the law his whole life," since the Bible is full of references to living people of all ages being deemed righteous. If the Bible speaks of "righteousness from God," this implies some kind of divine righteousness comes to us, or at least changes our behavior to exhibit that righteousness.

(F) If Adam could technically repent of his sins and been forgiven, then that would suggest Adam could technically be "in Christ," which means anyone "in Adam" would have to assume all the benefits of "in Adam within Christ".

(G) Turning to 2 Cor 5:21 does not address the blatant contradiction of Jesus being simul iustus et peccator, since in this case these are both legal categories.

(H) For you and Carson to admit the 3 Imputations are "implicit" in Paul means the Bible requires some explaining and assuming. This doesn't bode well for someone trying to "reform" the Church. What are you reforming? Something that wasn't even clearly taught in the first place?

JW said...

I had stopped commenting, but I have been still thinking and reading about this. The more I think about it, the better Protestant soteriology looks.

First, you have misrepresented some important verses. You describe Leviticus 7:18 with: “an improper sacrifice will not be reckoned as valid.” But that’s not what the verse says. The KJV is: “And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be imputed to him; it shall be an abomination to him who offers it, and the person who eats of it shall bear guilt” This is important because 1) it is in the context of sin, sacrifice and atonement and 2) the Greek grammar in the LXX follows that found in Romans 4, i.e., logizomai as a transitive verb with a dative (i.e., indirect object) personal pronoun. Something is being imputed to someone. Likewise, for Leviticus 17:4 you wrote: “the man who unlawfully sheds blood will be reckoned a sinner,” but the literal reading of the LXX is “blood shall be imputed to that man.” Again, something is being imputed to someone; it doesn’t say someone is reckoned a sinner.

These are the more relevant passages to understand Romans 4. Many of the examples of logizomai you mention have an intransitive verb or no dative pronoun, i.e., nothing is being imputed to someone. The other examples of logizomai with a similar construction to Romans 4 are the “non-imputation” verses. Those are the verses translated with “impute” or “credit,” and could be rendered as “charge to someone’s account.”

You could argue that imputing righteousness to someone is the equivalent of regarding them as having a righteous status, but 1) you can’t just change the words around and say this is how it must be understood, 2) criticize Protestants for using the plain biblical language, and 3) graciously regarding someone as righteous is still consistent with the Protestant view, so you’re more or less conceding the point. As long as it is understood that God is graciously regarding us as righteous apart from works, Protestant soteriology is preserved and consistent with Romans 4. Your original, narrow claim that logizomai doesn’t mean transfer is correct, but logizomai is still used in the sense of “credit to” someone or “put to their account.”
You also claimed that “The Early Church Fathers don't interpret key texts in the way that Protestants do, forcing the Protestant side to dispense with the Patristic testimony.” However, you never quoted any Patristic commentary on Romans 4. Meanwhile, I was reading a Protestant commentary on Romans and came across this Chrysostom quote: “For for a person who had no works, to be justified by faith, was nothing unlikely. But for a person richly adorned with good deeds, not to be made just from hence, but from faith, this is the thing to cause wonder, and to set the power of faith in a strong light” (Homily 8 on Romans). Chrysostom is saying that the point of Romans 4 is that even though Abraham had many good works, they were not the cause of his justification. Who’s dispensing with the Patristic testimony?

JW said...

You also claimed: “Some Protestants might appeal to Romans 2:26, suggesting it's possible for God to reckon faith as righteousness even if it is not, but they misuse this example because a true comparison would mean faith holds the equivalent weight of, say, keeping all the commandments perfectly - which is perfectly reasonable (but unacceptable for Protestants).” This simply isn’t true and, in fact, many Protestants hold this view and proclaim sola fide. I should have looked this up before, but here’s a quote from the Apology of the Augsburg Confession: “Faith, therefore, is that thing which God declares to be righteousness, and he adds that it is imputed freely, and says that it could not be imputed freely, if it were due on account of works” Faith is regarded by God as the equivalent of fulfilling the law. This is completely consistent with being credited righteousness and the banking analogy I proposed. We have faith, but get righteousness “on our account.”

Finally, imputation language clearly does not originate with Protestants. Here’s Bernard of Clairvaux: “For what could man, the slave of sin, fast bound by the devil, do of him self to recover that righteousness which he had formerly lost? Therefore he who lacked righteousness had another’s imputed to him, and in this way: The prince of this world came and found nothing in the Saviour, and because he notwithstanding laid hands on the Innocent he lost most justly those whom he held captive; since He who owed nothing to death, lawfully freed him who was subject to it, both from the debt of death, and the dominion of the devil, by accepting the injustice of death; for with what justice could that be exacted from man a second time? It was man who owed the debt, it was man who paid it. For if one, says S. Paul, died for all, then were all dead (2 Cor. v. 14), so that, as One bore the sins of all, the satisfaction of One is imputed to all.”

Here's a quote from Therese of Lisieux: "I am very happy that I am going to heaven. But when I think of this word of the Lord, “I shall come soon and bring with me my recompense to give to each according to his works,” I tell myself that this will be very embarrassing for me, because I have no works . . . . Very well! He will render to me according to His works for His own sake."

I think you still haven't properly reckoned with the text and haven't correctly characterized Protestant views. That's not to say that some Protestants don't go too far with imputation metaphors, but I think you're trying to force all Protestant ideas of imputation into a very narrow description rather than engaging the best, most careful explanations.

Nick said...

JW,

I am not sure what you are trying to prove with Leviticus 7:18 or 17:4. What does it mean that an improper sacrifice will not be imputed to him? Similarly, what does blood shall be imputed to him mean? I think when you answer those questions, you will see I'm not misrepresenting anything.

Your Chrysostom quote doesn't address the issue at all, and in fact opens up more problems than it solves. For the Protestant side, they don't believe Abraham had good works, and in fact Protestants say faith is needed precisely because we don't have good works. Chrysostom's words here don't suggest anything along the lines of needing Christ's Righteousness imputed to them. Nor do any of the other Patristic quotes. That is what the Protestant side realizes quite well and even turned to Sola Scriptura precisely because the Patristics said nothing about Imputation of Christ's Righteousness.

As for Romans 2:26, the truth is, of the many sources I've consulted, they do not point to this verse to help understand Romans 4. I don't think the Lutheran standards are consistent on this matter, but if they say faith itself is what God declares to be righteousness, then that seems like a vindication of my point. There is no "Christ's Alien Righteousness" hidden in that statement. If faith is, in your own words "REGARDED AS" the equivalent of fulfilling the law, then there goes Imputation of Christ's Alien Righteousness. You cannot have it both ways.

Finally, the Bernard quote is a textbook example of how Protestants don't actually carefully read a quote, they just assume it can only mean Protestant Imputation. Bernard plainly says "recover that righteousnes which he had formerly lost". In the Protestant view, Justification is about a righteousness that Adam never had in the first place, not a righteousness that was lost and needed recovery. There is nothing in that quote suggesting Jesus had to keep the law in our place. What Bernard is talking about is restoring us, by forgiveness, to a state of grace.

Nick said...

I think a few other considerations to support my case:

(1) The phrase "credited as righteousness" is being used as an equivalent for "justify". We know that Protestants are adamant that dkiaoo justify means "declare righteous" rather than "make righteous," but that merely supports what I'm saying, which is that "declare righteous" is the same as "regarding as righteous", which is what Logizmai roughly means as well.

(2) The theme of Romans 4 is about sonship, particularly that of father Abraham to his spiritual children. There is nothing really forensic about what is being talked about. The idea of sonship pertains to the soteriological category of adoption, and this is an ontological adoption and not merely on paper. So the idea of Imputation of Christ's Righteousness doesn't really fit within this lesson, because the point is not about being good enough.

(3) I have posted about how I think the theme of Genesis 15 is that of God making a Covenant with Abraham. The theme isn't about Abraham's conversion. So an Imputation of Christ's Righteousness reading is completely out of place.

All these points basically nullify any attempts for you to appeal too heavily to Romans 4:4, since I'm not restricting my argument to a mere few words and fist-pounding what I think they must be understood as.

JW said...

A sacrifice not being imputed to someone is not the same as the sacrifice not being regarded as valid; the one is the cause of the other.

Protestants absolutely believe Abraham had good works, but that they don't have merit before God, that they don't contribute to justification. The Chrysostom quote shows that Abraham's good works did not contribute to his justification.

Melanchthon's point is that faith is regarded as righteousness, even though it is not. Of course we affirm that faith is regarded as righteousness because it lays hold of Christ's righteousness. Ultimately everyone acknowledges that justification is due to Christ's merit, so any imputation of righteousness has Christ's merit in view. The quote is analogous to saying we are regarded as righteous for Christ's sake through faith.

Bernard is saying that mankind lost its righteousness when Adam sinned; there's no conflict with Protestant views. He clearly states: "he who lacked righteousness had another’s imputed to him." This is an alien righteousness. He connects Christ's fulfilling law to justification with the phrase: "He who owed nothing to death..." and "the satisfaction of One is imputed to all."

The theme of Romans 4 is not sonship, but righteousness apart from works. And what is ontological adoption? Adoption is effected by a declaration and is forensic. The life as an adopted child occurs after the change in legal status.

Genesis 15 doesn't have to be about conversion for v. 15:6 to be about justification. Justification is an ongoing declaration, not a one-time event.

JW said...

Truly final comment:

By not acknowledging that logizomai can mean “crediting,” a misunderstanding is created about the idea of non-imputation of sin. It cannot mean merely God’s acknowledgement of the forgiven state. It is synonymous with forgiveness itself which must be a purely gracious act of God. Forgiveness cannot be a reward for good behavior. In repentance and faith we are trusting God to give us graciously what we do not deserve rather than the justice that we as sinners truly deserve. The utterly gracious nature of God crediting righteousness to us is abundantly clear in Romans 4.

Nick said...

JW, I never did get a clear explanation of what "crediting" means to you. For me, I don't mind the term "credited" as long as it remains within the realm of what I have shown, namely that it is a mental evaluation, and not a transfer.

Nick said...

I am currently listening to a Sermon by Reformed Baptist James White, given at Apologia Church a few days ago (4/16/20), see link below.

Talking on Romans 4, at the time stamp 33:50, White says:

///God had revealed that his [Abraham's] faith had been reckoned to him as righteousness, but it wasn't just for his sake that it was written that it was reckoned to him - by the way, that term "reckoned" in some translations is imputed, it's the same Greek term "imputed", so we talked about the "imputation of our sin to Christ" or "his righteousness to us", it's the same term that is being used there, it's a term that's found in the Greek papyri in financial records where you would make a deposit to someone's account, imputation, crediting - now not for his sake only was it written that it was reckoned to him but for our sake also.///

It is fascinating that White refuses to take a look at how this term, Logizomai, is used elsewhere by Paul, and instead points to secular Greek records instead. White clearly sees this term as "making a deposit into someone's account," which means it carries the notion of a transfer (and even infusion). This is inaccurate, and tampering with God's Word.

Dr. White on the Resurrection of the Son of God
https://youtu.be/FaV63NIod1E

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

I don't think your criticism is fair. He was preaching a sermon, not teaching a class. It's bad form to "show your homework" when preaching, like you can in class. But given a different venue, I wonder if James would have more to say on Logizomai than you give him credit (pun?) for?

I find your words to be both needlessly harsh and problematic:

>>It is fascinating that White refuses to take a look at how this term, Logizomai, is used elsewhere by Paul, and instead points to secular Greek records instead. White clearly sees this term as "making a deposit into someone's account," which means it carries the notion of a transfer (and even infusion). This is inaccurate, and tampering with God's Word.<<

1. If you take everything into account that James White has said and written on Logizomai, I think, if you're being honest, you'd have to admit that he has looked "elsewhere" in Paul to see how that term is being used.

2. But the real question is this: Is it always legitimate to look elsewhere given that a term can have a broad semantic range, given that it can be used by the same author In more than one way, and given that immediate context--not usage "elsewhere" is what is finally determinative of authorial intent? The answer is clearly no. D.A. Carson calls this the “unwarranted adoption of an expanded semantic field.” The flaw in your complaint against James “lies in the assumption that the meaning of a word in a specific context is much broader than the context itself allows and may bring with it the word’s entire semantic range. This step is sometimes called illegitimate totality transfer.” (Don Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 62)

That's what you're doing here by attempting to redirect your readers' attention to other uses of Logizomai in Paul, rather than focusing on how he is using the word in the context or Romans 4.

3. As for Jame's appeal to "secular Greek records," um, that's simply an ad-hominem that's been swallowed by red herring. First the ad-hominem: The word "secular" is pejorative in your statement as it implicitly impeaches the evidence for not being sacred and seemingly assumes that logizomai means something radically different in a non-religious setting than it does in religious setting. Why? Take Paul's use of the word "and." Do you think that the word "and" in a "secular" setting has a fundamentally different meaning than Paul's use of that same word in a sacred setting? Of course not. Language doesn't necessarily change its meaning when moving from the secular to the sacred or vice versa.

Now for the red herring. It is utterly irrelevant that logizomai is used in financial settings outside of scripture. We also use "impute" in financial settings and legal settings in English. James isn't wrong to point that out, if it was Paul's purpose to draw from the common vocabulary and experience of his readers in order to convey the truth he was trying to convey.

Bottom line: Your attempt to bait and switch your reader's attention from Romans 4 to Paul's other uses of logizomai fails for the same reason this argument fails. The only question that the exegete should concern him/herself with is the use of logizomai in Romans 4.

James is absolutely correct to point out that "impute" is a very reasonable translation of logizomai *in that context.

Michael Taylor said...

4. Your final error is your persistent attempt to put a Tridentine toe in the door--as if Paul were thinking of righteousness as a substance that can be infused into the soul (as if he subscribed to the same sort of dualistic [body animated by immortal soul] anthropology that was the presupposition of the medieval church.) This is simple anachronistic eisegesis on your part.

Paul did not view righteousness or grace as a "substance." Paul therefore did think that righteousness could be infused into a person in the way the Tridentine fathers had assumed. Paul did not think of the soul as an immaterial--much less immortal--substance that animates the body, and therefore the idea that righteousness could be infused into the soul, simply was not part of Paul's thought world.

But he did think of it as a status or legal standing before God. And he did believe that Abraham's faith could stand in place of that kind of righteousness based on one's compliance with the law if God so chooses to see his faith in that light.