A Study on Imputation of Righteousness

Statues of Calvin and His Reformed Friends

Vanguard readers, allow me to introduce you to Nick, a Catholic apologist friend of mine who wrote this in-depth article on the Protestant doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and justification.

I am grateful to Nick for taking the time to dig in and research this important doctrine, and for him allowing me to post his work as a guest article here.

Imputation: The fig-leaf of the Reformation

The doctrine of Imputation truly is the linchpin of Protestantism. I believe it was this doctrine that led to advocating for Sola Scriptura, because in the Protestant mind the Catholic Church had mangled the plain Scriptural teaching on Justification so badly that there was no way Catholicism could be right. Obviously, if someone botches a key doctrine of Scripture, then they lose a lot of credibility. In this article I am going to analyze what Imputation is and see whether it is Biblical or not. I will conclude by examining what the Early Church Fathers have to say on a few important passages.

What is Imputation?

Imputation is relatively simple concept, despite the term itself being somewhat outdated. Reformed pastor and writer Dr Joel Beeke explains the concept as follows:

Imputation signifies to credit something to someone’s account by transfer, i.e. God transfers the perfect righteousness of Christ to the elect sinner as a gracious gift, and transfers all of the sinner’s unrighteousness to Christ who has paid the full price of satisfaction for that unrighteousness. (Justification by Faith Alone)

Concurring with this definition, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church issued an important “Report on Justification”in 2006, stating,

“We need to be reckoned or accounted (logizomai) as righteous in God’s sight and imputation is the way that we as a confessional church understand the Scriptures to speak of that transfer of righteousness (cf. WLC 71)” (p74).

Adding a significant detail to the definition of Imputation, the the OPC’s references the Greek word logizomai. Reformed Scholar T.F. Torrance states Paul’s use of logizomai corresponds directly to the Reformer’s notion of Imputation (Atonement, p136). This Greek word will be the central focus of this study, since it is the term Scripture uses when speaking on imputation of righteousness, especially in Romans 4 (where logizomai is used 11 times).

The Tyndale Biblical Dictionary, “Imputation”, p630, summarizes how Imputation connects all the important aspects of justification together:

The Biblical teaching on imputation represents one of the principal doctrines of the Christian faith. … In relation to the doctrine of salvation, the word is consistently used in a legal sense. Philemon 1:18, which affirms that the apostle Paul assumed the debt of Onesimus, aptly illustrates the predominant theological usage of the word: “if he owes you anything, charge that to my account.”

The Bible sets forth the theological concept of imputation in three distinct yet related ways. First, Scripture affirms the imputation of Adam’s original sin to the entire human race. … Second, the sin and guilt of the human race was imputed to Christ… Finally, the Bible teaches that, as a result of his atoning work, Christ’s righteousness is set to the believer’s account.

Following the example of Philemon 1:18, the Protestant notion of imputation is exemplified when Paul graciously takes on the debt Onesimus owes his master, transferring his debt to Paul’s account. This dictionary goes onto state that, according to Scripture, this same concept of Imputation takes place in a three-fold manner: (1) when the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to all men; (2) when the sins of believers are imputed to Christ; and (3) when the righteous and obedient life of Christ is imputed to the believer by faith. Various other Bible dictionaries repeat this truth almost verbatim  (Cf. Easton’s Bible Dictionary EBD, “Imputation”, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “Imputation”; Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “Imputation”; Grudem’s Systematic Theology pages 725ff).

That brief description should give an idea of how to interpret the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is a major historic Protestant document that has been a standard on how to properly understand the true meaning of Justification by Faith Alone. In the Chapter on Justification it says:

Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

Here the authors of the Confession distinguish between “infused righteousness” and “imputed righteousness”. The Confession makes a secondary distinction on top of that, stating that faith itself is not what is imputed as righteousness, but rather the righteousness of Christ is. Note that there is an equivocation in the Confession on this point, since the term “imputing” is used twice in the Confession, but not in the same sense. While the latter instance of “imputing” is used to mean “transferring” an (extrinsic) righteousness, the former instance of “imputing” cannot mean this, since “imputing faith itself” cannot mean “transferring faith”. This problem of equivocation will come to greater light later in this essay.

Despite the straightforwardness in which these sources explain the doctrine of Imputation, some Protestant sources are honest enough to admit that the teaching is not clearly laid out in Scripture. One scholar, George Ladd, taught the following in his hugely popular seminary textbook:

Paul never expressly states that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers. His words are, “And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Rom 4:3,5).

These words could be taken to mean that God regarded faith as the most meritorious human achievement, and therefore God accounts faith as the equivalent to full righteousness. This, however, would ignore the context of Pauline thought.
(A Theology of the New Testament, “Imputation”)

What is even more worthy of note, in my opinion, is what one of the foremost Reformed scholars today, D. A. Carson, said in an equally grand admission in his boldly titled essay “The Vindication of Imputation”:

Even if we agree that there is no Pauline passage that explicitly says, in so many words, that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to his people, is there biblical evidence to substantiate the view that the substance of this thought is conveyed?
(Justification: What’s at Stake, Ch2, P50)

And a few pages later he is even more clear:

It is time, past time perhaps, to devote some attention to the most crucial passage where Paul says that something was indeed imputed to a certain person as righteousness – even though Paul does not unambiguously say that what was imputed was Christ’s righteousness. No, he says that faith was imputed – credited, reckoned – to Abraham as righteousness, and the same is true today (Rom 4:3-5). The passage is notoriously complex. I shall restrict myself to the following observations. (P55f)

This is quite an astonishing admission by a well respected and very conservative scholar, since Protestants teach that the Bible alone is the only inspired source for Christian teaching, including the idea that Scripture clearly teaches all essential doctrines (i.e. Scripture is “perspicuous”). So, from the get to, Carson has not only admitted that Romans 4 is “notorious complex,” but also that Paul does not clearly state Christ’s righteousness is imputed. This should leave room for a long pause to consider the implications of these admissions: the chief proof text for Justification by Faith Alone, Romans 4:3, does not, by their own admission, clearly teach what they need it to teach.

Any reasonable person will agree that a doctrine does not have to be explicitly taught in Scripture to be true, with the doctrine of the Trinity being the chief example. This is indeed what Protestants argue when it is affirmed that Paul nowhere clearly teaches Christ’s Righteousness is imputed. But there is an important catch here: though the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, the word “impute” does. The Greek word logizomai appears 41 times in the New Testament, and in the Old Testament the equivalent Hebrew term chashab appears about 120 times. These two terms are translated into English in various ways, most popularly as “reckoned” or “counted”. Thus, if God deemed a term worthy to be used over 150 times in the Bible, and yet never used it the way Protestants contend, then there is clearly a problem.

In the course of this article, I will demonstrate the following propositions beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The Bible never uses the term logizomai (or any similar term) in regards to the three-fold imputation of Adam’s sin to mankind, our sin to Christ, or Christ’s Righteousness to the believer.
  • The term logizomai never means “to transfer” or anything similar. Nor does the term ever get used in an ‘instrumental sense’, that is, with something like faith being an ’empty hand’ (i.e. no inherent value) that simply ‘reaches out’ and ‘carries’ something of value from one place to another.
  • 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.
  • (Appendix) There is a serious lack of integrity and honesty in Protestant scholarship and thinking when approaching and speaking on this subject. This is especially true when it comes to addressing logizomai, particularly when analyzing how the Bible employs the term.

It is for these reasons why I say logizomai is the lynchpin of Protestantism. Once one examines the plain evidence, they will see Protestantism has not a single leg to stand on.

Part II

What does the Bible say about logizomai?

Many people get uneasy when the issue of Biblical Greek comes up because they simply don’t know any Greek. This is understandable. The good news is, knowledge of Greek is not crucial for understanding logizomai, since we have the aid of Bible dictionaries and lexicons. The biggest strength about the case I will present is that it does not rely upon the opinions of Greek scholars, but rather a straightforward analysis of how and when the Bible employs the term. One simply needs to go through every occurrence of logizomai in the Old and New Testaments (about 160 verses) to see how the term is used and whether or not it ever occurs in reference to the three-fold imputation taught by Protestantism. Though I have done this and I strongly recommend others to invest about 2 hours to do so themselves, in this article I make this study even easier by highlighting key examples and showing what to look for.

The easiest place to start is examining how the New Testament uses logizomai, which requires looking at 40 verses. This is the most important set of data to examine. That might seem like a lot of work, but this issue is so crucial that there is no room for intellectual laziness. I will list off and categorize all the verses which use logizomai, and one simply needs to hover their mouse over the passage to see what the verse says.

To “reckon” (logizomai) something is to form a correct mental evaluation or calculation about it. So, for example, to reckon something as having a certain quality, it is because that thing truly does have that quality.

  • John 11:50 – they reckon it’s better to lose one life rather than many
  • Acts 19:27 – the pagans reckon their idol to be of value and don’t want it devalued
  • Romans 3:28 – Paul reckons that faith justifies apart from the works of the Law
  • Romans 4:4 – working wages are reckoned in the debt category (as on a ledger)
  • Romans 4:8 – sin is not reckoned to David since his sins are forgiven (Ps 32:1)
  • Romans 6:11 – the Christian is to reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to Christ
  • Romans 8:18 – Paul reckons the present sufferings don’t compare to Heavenly glory
  • Romans 9:8 – Abraham’s spiritual children are reckoned as God’s children
  • 1 Corinthians 4:1 – Christians should reckon Paul as a servant of God
  • 1 Corinthians 13:5 – love does not reckon or dwell on wrongs done
  • 1 Corinthians 13:11 – when Paul was a child, he’d reckon (reason) as a child does
  • 2 Corinthians 3:5 – Paul doesn’t reckon himself adequate apart from God’s grace
  • 2 Corinthians 5:19 – God does not reckon sins to believers who are forgiven
  • 2 Corinthians 10:7 – let Christians reckon themselves to be in Christ
  • 2 Corinthians 10:11 – let Christians reckon that Apostolic authority exists in writing
  • 2 Corinthians 11:5 – Paul reckons himself a full fledged Apostle
  • 2 Corinthians 12:6 – nobody should reckon Paul to be more that what he really is
  • Philippians 3:13 – Paul reckons he has not laid hold of the final prize (Heaven) yet
  • Philippians 4:8 – Christians are to reckon or dwell upon whatever is good
  • 2 Timothy 4:16 – Paul forgives his friends and so doesn’t want sin reckoned to them
  • Hebrews 11:19 – Abraham reckoned that God could raise the dead
  • 1 Peter 5:12 – Paul reckons Silvanus as a faithful Christian

Some passages show when people “reckon” something incorrectly, that is they make a mental error concerning the true nature of something, and reveals the individual to be either ignorant or malicious.

  • Mark 15:28, Luke 22:37 – Jesus is falsely reckoned as a transgressor
  • Romans 2:3 – the hypocrite falsely reckons he wont be judged for his sins
  • Romans 8:36 – persecutors falsely reckon Christians as sheep to be slaughtered
  • Romans 14:14 – the weak Christian brother improperly reckons foods unclean
  • 2 Corinthians 10:2 – some troublemakers falsely reckon Paul as an unbeliever

It is possible to reckon by assigning an equivalency to something else, such as in the case of Romans 2:26, where God will reckon a commandment keeping Gentile as being inside the covenant, even if he never got the opportunity to be circumcised.

In examining these 29 verses, clearly these lists are in harmony as to what it means to logizomai something. In each case it is clear a person either is reckoning something accurate or else he should have been if he did not. This leaves to be examined the 10 verses in Romans 4 speaking of “reckoning righteousness,” along with the parallels in Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23.

Approaching Romans 4, especially the critical verse 4:3 – Abraham’s faith being reckoned as righteousness (cf 4:5, 9) – with the consensus just established, it should be very clear that for God to reckon (logizomai) faith as righteousness, it is because faith in God does have a righteous quality about it. Contextually speaking, which is no less important, Abraham’s faith is clearly described as robust and worthy of imitation (see Romans 4:18-22 and James 2:22-23). Paul’s reference to Genesis 15:6 in Galatians 3:6-9 sheds even more light on this matter, since he places his quote within the context of Abraham’s faithful obedience of Genesis 12:1ff (Galatians 3:8; see Hebrews 11:8), and even uses the Greek word for “faithful” (3:9b; G4103:pistos) as a synonym for his regular word, “faith” (3:9a; G4102:pistis). 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 ‘foundational’ analysis of the New Testament can be carried over to help analyze how the Old Testament employs logizomai through the Hebrew equivalent chashab (since Rom. 4:3 quotes Gen. 15:6). Since chashab occurs about 120 times in the Old Testament, I will not quote and categorize every verse. Instead, I will simply quote and categorize the most pertinent examples:

Quite often, about 50 times, the term chashab means “to devise,” particularly to devise an evil plot against someone (e.g. 1 Sam. 18:25; Neh. 6:2; Ps. 10:2; 21:11; 35:4; 40:17; 73:16; 119:59). These numerous passages testify that reckoning is about mentally calculating, not transferring.

As with the New Testament, chashab means to form a right mental evaluation of something. For example:

  • Genesis 15:6 – Abraham’s faith is reckoned to have the quality of righteousness
  • Genesis 31:15 – Laban sold his daughters and thus now reckons them as foreigners
  • Leviticus 7:18 – an improper sacrifice will not be reckoned as valid
  • Leviticus 17:4 – the man who unlawfully sheds blood will be reckoned a sinner
  • Leviticus 25:27; 25:50; 25:52; 27:18; 27:23 – the priest should reckon or calculate the proper value of land based on usage and jubilee year
  • Numbers 23:9 – God will reckon Israel as a special people, set apart from others
  • 2 Samuel 19:19 – Shimei asks King David not to reckon him guilty, to forgive him
  • Nehmiah 13:13 – faithful workers are reckoned as reliable
  • Psalm 32:2 – the blessed man is the forgiven man, he has no sin reckoned to him
  • Psalm 106:31 – Phinehas’s good deed was ‘reckoned as righteousness’

And as with the New Testament, there are many examples of people in the Old Testament reckoning incorrectly, often using sinful motives. For example:

  • Genesis 38:15 – Judah falsely reckons his daugher-in-law to be a prostitute
  • 1 Samuel 1:13 – Eli the priest falsely reckons the praying woman to be drunk
  • Job 13:24; 19:11; 33:10 – Job falsely reckons that God is mad at him
  • Psalm 44:22 – mentioned in the NT analysis above
  • Isaiah 29:16 – the wicked falsely reckon that the potter is equal to the clay
  • Isaiah 53:3-4, 12 – the wicked falsely reckon the Messiah as under God’s displeasure

Finally, as with the New Testament, there are examples in the Old Testament where something is considered equivalent or holding the same weight as something else, for either calculating or metaphorical purposes. For example:

  • Leviticus 25:31 – houses without walls shall be reckoned as equivalent to an open fields for taxing and zoning purposes (see the earlier Lev. 25 examples)
  • Numbers 18:27; 18:30 – the Levites’ tithe is reckoned the equivalent of the harvest tithes of the citizens, since the Levites don’t own land and cannot harvest
  • Job 41:27, 29 – The Leviathan monster is so strong it reckons human weapons as equivalent to sticks and straw
  • Isaiah 40:15, 17 – God is so ‘big’ that all creation is reckoned as equivalent to a speck of dust in His sight

We see the same trend in the Old Testament as in the New Testament examples. Protestants desperate to find ‘exceptions’ will look in vain. Any appeals by them to the last set of verses simply fails to recognize there is a metaphorical/equivalency use to chashab, just like the Romans 2:26 example, which doesn’t help their cause.

And notice that the first two points of my thesis are explicitly confirmed: nowhere does the Bible use logizomai in reference to the three-fold imputation taught by Protestantism, and nowhere does logizomai mean anything along the lines of “to transfer”.

Part III

At this point I should focus a bit more on some of the key texts, since they play a more significant role than the others.

  • Philemon 1:18 speaks of having a debt “charged to” Paul’s account. This text is important because it is one of the most appealed to passages by Protestants (throughout their history) when “proving” their doctrine of Imputation from Scripture. But what isn’t well known – and there’s no good excuse for this – is that the term logizomai does not appear in this text! Rather, it is an other Greek word, ellogeo, which appears only here and in Romans 5:13. This is quite an astonishing revelation, for why would Protestants be looking to an obscure Biblical term when the term Paul used throughout Romans 4 appears numerous times throughout Scripture?
  • Psalm 106:30-31 uses the identical Greek/Hebrew language as Genesis 15:6. This is huge. Using the principle of ‘Scripture interprets Scripture‘, and basic logic, we should conclude that the identical phrases have the same meaning. Thus, while Phinehas’ deed was “reckoned” as a good righteous deed, so must Abraham’s faith have been. Of course, this is devastating to Protestantism, so they must scour to find a reason around this, despite the fact the ‘plain reading’ of Scripture fits just fine.
  • Psalm 32:2 gives an important insight on what it means to “not impute sin” to someone (see also Romans 4:8 comment below). This Psalm was written by David, repenting after he sinned gravely and lost his justification. Even Luther recognized this (see Smalcald Articles #43). The “blessed man” (i.e. justified) of verse 1 is he who has his “sins forgiven,” and “in who’s spirit there is no deceit”. He is the one who did not hide his sin but confessed it to God (verse 5), after which he became “righteous” and “upright in heart” (verse 11). The parallel prayer to this is David in Psalm 51, where he is just as explicit on what happens at forgiveness, namely the sinner is “washed,” “cleansed,” “purged,” resulting in a man “whiter than snow” and having “a clean heart”. With all this going on, how can there be sin to reckon? There cannot be! Thus to “not impute sin” is synonymous to saying “forgive,” that is “make my slate clean so there is no sin there to reckon”. This is the principle in which we are to interpret texts like 2 Samuel 19:19, 2 Corinthians 5:19 and 2 Timothy 4:19 (Cf Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).
  • James 2:21-23 says that “Abraham’s faith was active with and completed by works”. Does that sound like a faith that lacks a righteous quality to it? Quite the contrary (see Romans 4:18-22 and Galatians 3:9). Ironically, many Protestants condemn 1 Maccabees 2:52 as heretical for saying Abraham’s act of offering up Isaac was “credited as righteousness” (same phrase as Genesis 15:6), and yet this is in fact what James 2:21-24 says!
  • Romans 4:4 uses logizomai sandwiched right between the important verses 3 and 5, where logizomai also appears. Obviously, the term must have the same meaning in all three verses, else Paul would be equivocating. Though many misread verse 4 to be saying wages are “transferred” to an “account,” that’s not what the verse is saying. Rather the verse is speaking in terms of a ledger, where ‘working wages’ are recorded on the “debt” column, and thus “reckoned as debt”. In other words, the wage is reckoned in the mind as what it truly is, having the quality of a debt. This necessitates that faith should be reckoned as what it truly is as well.
  • Romans 4:8 is in a similar case as Romans 4:4. As noted earlier, this text is important for it quotes Psalm 32:2. What is important to note here is how logizomai is being used, in a negated fashion: “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not impute sin”. If logizomai in Romans 4 means “to transfer,” then Romans 4:8 ends up saying: “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not transfer sin.” That’s absurd, for it means the Blessed (justified) individual is he whom the Lord will not get rid of his sin! Thus, logizomai cannot mean “transfer” in this context. This ties into the equivocation in the Westminster Confession that was  mentioned earlier in this essay.

As we can see, these texts can determine a lot, and thus it is important to keep these texts and principles in mind as we approach the next phase of this study.

What do the Church Fathers say about Genesis 15:6 and Psalm 32:2?

A study of logizomai would be incomplete without a look at how the Early Church Fathers interpreted key texts like Genesis 15:6 and Psalm 32:2. This testimony will either confirm or refute what has just been presented. I was able to find about eight Church Fathers who directly reference Genesis 15:6, none of whom said anything close to resembling the idea faith has no intrinsic quality of righteousness and instead must look ‘outside itself’ to Christ’s (alien) righteousness. It was this kind of realization that led the early Protestants to conclude that the Fathers were only as useful as a lexicon or Bible dictionary (see Tradition and the Lexicon), rather than successors of the Apostles who passed on invaluable testimony of the Christian Faith. And it is at this point where the Protestant mind has little issue dispensing with the Councils and Patristics whenever they don’t support the Protestant interpretation of Scripture, but this approach implicitly succumbs to the error of Ecclesial Deism since this is effectively saying the Early Church didn’t understand the “plain teaching of Scripture” on a (very) essential matter and thus misunderstood and failed to teach the heart of the Gospel.

The Patristic testimony is unanimous in seeing Genesis 15:6 as signifying a righteous act of faithful obedience on Abraham’s part, starting as early as Saints Clement (Epistle to the Corinthians Ch 10) and Irenaeus (AH 4:16:2; 5:32:2). Saint Cyprian states the consensus quite succinctly, “whosoever believes in God and lives in faith is found righteous, and already is blessed in faithful Abraham, and is set forth as justified” (Epistle 62:4 Cf. Chrysostom, Commentary on Hebrews, Homily 34:7; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 5:5). Saint Hilary could not be more direct, “Nothing is more righteous than Faith” (On the Trinity, 10:68; 9:64), and St. Gregory of Nyssa concurs with that sentiment, “God counts to men for righteousness their faith, not their knowledge” (Answer to Eunomius). Saint Augustine sheds some more direct light on logizomai when he confronts the Donatists, saying their unbelief should be “counted unto you for unrighteousness, as it fairly would be counted” (Answer to Petilian Ch14:33), and Chyrsostom substitutes the standard term by saying Abraham’s “faith sufficed unto righteousness” (Commentary on Galatians 3:6).

Commenting on Psalm 32:3, the Catholic Encyclopedia states, “It is one of God’s attributes always to substantiate His declarations; if He covers sin and does not impute it, this can only be effected by an utter extinction or blotting out of the sin. Tradition also has always taught this view of the forgiveness of sins” (Sanctifying Grace). This description matches what I found when I examined the Fathers comments on this passage, though the Fathers went further to place David’s repentance within the context of doing penance. Saint Clement uses this example in admonishing the Corinthians, saying: “Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us” (Epistle to the Corinthians, Ch 50). Directly contradicting the Reformed idea that all future sins are forgiven at the moment of coversion, Saint Justin says, “you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them. We have as proof of this the one fall of David, which happened through his boasting, which was forgiven then when he so mourned and wept, as it is written. But if even to such a man no remission was granted before repentance, and only when this great king, and anointed one, and prophet, mourned and conducted himself so, how can the impure and utterly abandoned, if they weep not, and mourn not, and repent not, entertain the hope that the Lord will not impute to them sin?” (Dialog 141). Augustine, likewise, sees David as an example of a great man who fell and needed to be forgiven, “even [David’s] faults are overcome by great piety, through the most salutary humility of his repentance” (City of God 17:20), because “[God] does not impute it [sin] to those who say to Him in faith, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ ” (Perfection in Righteousness, 15th Breviate; see Reformed Imputation and the Lord’s Prayer). St Ambrose places the Psalm in a twofold forgiveness, first in baptism, then in penance: “He calls each blessed, both him whose sins are remitted by the font, and him whose sin is covered by good works. For he who repents ought not only to wash away his sin by his tears, but also to cover and hide his former transgressions by amended deeds, that sin may not be imputed to him” (On Repentance 2:5:35).

There is, however, a secondary undersanding of not imputing sin, which St Gregory Nazianzen describes as those sinners “whose actions are not praiseworthy, but who are innocent of intention” (Oration 40:32), but this is perfectly compatible with the standard understanding of logizomai, as Augustine explains “whatever shall not be imputed as sin is not sin” (see 15th Breviate quoted prior).

Thus, there is no support of a Protestant reading of Romans 4:6-8, nor is there an idea of God cloaking our sins under a blanket of snow, much less imputing those sins to Christ.

Conclusion:

In this essay I have demonstrated the Protestant understanding of imputation is contrary both to the Biblical testimony as well as the Patristic testimony, leaving the doctrine of Sola Fide without any credibility. I believe that if more Protestants knew these facts, they would readily abandon the doctrine, and because of that I believe education and getting the word out on this subject is crucial.

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Part IV to VI: APPENDIX

What do the experts say about logizomai?

In this section of the study, I will examine various sources from well respected Protestant authors (most of whom are Reformed). I have consulted almost 50 Protestant sources (including the ones quoted earlier), focusing specifically on whether they mention the term logizomai or not, and if they do what they say about it. While this is neither an exhaustive nor a thorough treatment of every author, I feel the quotes are very representative of the specific author’s understanding and the general understanding of Protestant scholarship as a whole. It is my contention that Protestant scholarship has failed miserably on this task to analyze such a crucial word. As will be shown, these sources range from incompetent to deceptive in their utter lack of upfront honesty about this subject. This is truly an “Emperor has no clothes” moment if I’ve ever seen one.

I think it is best to focus on the ten most important authors I’ve come across, and from there fill in the analysis with the other authors.

ñ  John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis: Ch15:6.  For the word ??? (chashab,) which Moses uses, is to be understood as relating to the judgment of God, just as in Psalm 106:31, where the zeal of Phinehas is said to have been counted to him for righteousness. The meaning of the expression will, however, more fully appear by comparison with its opposites. … [references Leviticus 7:18; 17:4; 2 Samuel 19:19; 2 Kings 12:15] … Let us now return to Moses. Just as we understand that they to whom iniquity is imputed are guilty before God; so those to whom he imputes righteousness are approved by him as just persons; wherefore Abram was received into the number and rank of just persons by the imputation of righteousness. For Paul, in order that he may show us distinctly the force and nature, or quality of this righteousness, leads us to the celestial tribunal of God. Therefore, they foolishly trifle who apply this term to his character as an honest man; as if it meant that Abram was personally held to be a just and righteous man. … Lastly, it is not less the part of stupor than of impudence, when this faith is said to have been imputed to him for righteousness, to mingle with it some other meaning, than that the faith of Abram was accepted in the place of righteousness with God.

Without a doubt, Calvin has ‘set the bar’ on exegeting Genesis 15:6 – and almost every Protestant author I’ve consulted has followed this pattern. Of the various works I consulted, this is the most “in depth” he’s been on his exegesis of this matter (and I found nothing close to this in his Institutes). He clearly ignores logizomai all together and focuses solely on the OT term chashab, and as you can see he singles out a few biased examples to form his “conclusion”. His reference to Psalm 106 was totally in passing, ignoring any natural link to interpreting 15:6 with. His “conclusion” is absolutely ridiculous and straw man, ruling out the idea Abraham could have been righteous in any sense, including it being a quality of Abraham’s faith. That’s not exegesis; that’s an agenda.

ñ  John Owen, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, Ch7, Wherefore, in the imputation of any thing unto us which is ours, God esteems it not to be other than it is. He does not esteem that to be a perfect righteousness which is imperfect; so to do, might argue either a mistake of the thing judged on, or perverseness in the judgment itself upon it. Wherefore, if, as some say, our own faith and obedience are imputed unto us for righteousness, seeing they are imperfect, they must be imputed unto us for an imperfect righteousness, and not for that which is perfect; for that judgment of God which is according unto truth is in this imputation.

Imputation may justly ensue “ex voluntaria sponsione,” — when one freely and willingly undertakes to answer for another. An illustrious instance hereof we have in that passage of the apostle unto Philemon… And this voluntary sponsion was one ground of the imputation of our sin unto Christ.
…There is an imputation “ex mera gratia,” — of mere grace and favour. … For the imputation of works unto us, be they what they will, be it faith itself as a work of obedience in us, is the imputation of that which was ours before such imputation; but the imputation of the righteousness of faith, or the righteousness of God which is by faith, is the imputation of that which is made ours by virtue of that imputation. And these two imputations differ in their whole kind. The one is a judging of that to be in us which indeed is so, and is ours before that judgment be passed concerning it; the other is a communication of that unto us which before was not ours. And no man can make sense of the apostle’s discourse, that is, he cannot understand any thing of it, if he acknowledge not that the righteousness he treats of is made ours by imputation, and was not ours antecedently thereunto.

This ‘analysis’ of Owen is some of the most in-depth philosophically that I’ve found (I only quoted a portion for brevity), but Biblically it holds no weight. He literally invents a distinction and projects it right onto the Bible. His “antecedent” distinction (i.e. speaking of a quality possessed beforehand) has no basis in Scripture; he invented it simply to make Imputation work. But his agenda is pretty easy to see, given that he cites no Scriptures using logizomai, and now he makes logizomai hold two meanings: first to transfer, second to reckon. This sneaking in of the “transfer” component is unacceptable and reveals the fundamental flaw of the entire Protestant system. This is also the earliest example I’ve found where Philemon 1:18 is used as the ‘definitive’ proof text, despite it not using the term logizomai and practically ignoring the passages that do use logizomai. To add insult to injury, he claims that all man is capable of having is an imperfect righteousness, such that even if Abraham’s faith itself was seen as a righteous act, at most it could have only been an imperfect righteous act. How ridiculous. Arthur Pink in The Doctrine of Justification, Ch5, makes a similar claim when he sneaks in a ‘transfer’ component into the mix: “as the sins of him who believes were, by God, transferred and imputed to Christ… even so the obedience or righteousness of Christ is, by God, transferred and imputed to the believer… And any denial of that fact, no matter by whomsoever made, is a repudiation of the cardinal principle of the Gospel.” Notice this “cardinal principle,” as he explains it, has no basis in Scripture; it’s merely asserted.

ñ  Francis Turretin, Institutes, Vol 2, p648, (Sixteeth Topic; Third Question; Section 7, 9), However, because we treat here of the imputed righteousness of Christ, we must remark further that the word “impute” (which is in Hebrew chshbh; in Greek logizesthai or ellogein) can be taken in two ways, either properly or improperly. That is said to be imputed to anyone improperly which he himself has done or has, when on that account a reward or punishment is decreed to him. … [references 2 Sam 19:19; Ps 106:31] … Properly is to hold him who has not done a thing, as if he had done it. In turn not to impute is to hold him who has done a thing as if he had not done it; as Paul desires the fault of Onesimus to be imputed to him (which he himself had not committed, Philem. 18) and asks that the fault should not be laid to the charge of those who forsook him (which they had committed, 2 Tim. 4:16). … Therefore when we say that the righteousness of Christ is imptued to us for justification and that we are just before God through imputed righteousness and not through any righteousness inherent in us, we mean nothing else than that the obedience of Christ rendered in our name to God the Father is so given to us by God that it is reckoned to be truly ours

As with the others, Turrentin makes a drive-by analysis of the term. He speaks as if it is beyond doubt that there are two ways the term is used, despite the fact there is not, and he uses Philemon as his principle proof for this distinction. And note how Turretin sneaks in the ‘transfer’ component into his description, stating that imputation implies Christ’s righteousness is “given to us” and then reckoned to be ours.

ñ  James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, Part II, Lecture XII, Proposition XVII:
There is not in all the Scriptures,’ says one [opponent], ‘an instance in which one man’s sin or righteousness is said to be imputed to another. There is not in all the Bible one assertion that Adam’s sin, or Christ’s righteousness, is imputed to us; nor one declaration that any man’s sin is ever imputed by God or man to another man. Having followed (the Hebrew and Greek verbs) through the concordances, I hesitate not to challenge a single example which is fairly of this nature in all the Bible.

These are bold statements, and may seem to imply a denial of the doctrine… But the question is, Whether the same verbs [i.e. logizomai] may not be equally applicable to other cases, in which that which is imputed to him was not personally his own, and did not previously belong to him, but became his only by its being put down to his account? The debt due, and the wrong done, by Onesimus to Philemon, were not chargeable against Paul personally or previously, but he became chargeable with them simply by their being imputed to him: ‘If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account,’ or ‘impute that to me;’ ‘I will repay it.’ In like manner, ‘He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us,’ and ‘bore our sins in His own body on the tree,’ not that our sins were chargeable against Him personally or previously, but they became His by imputation on God’s part, and voluntary susception on His own. If it be said, that the mere word ‘impute’ is not employed in this case, it may be asked, whether there be any other which could more accurately express the fact, if it be a fact; and whether the word itself is not used in a parallel case, when God is said ‘to impute righteousness without works,’ as often as ‘He justifieth the ungodly?’

This quote is one of the most revealing I’ve ever come across. Buchanan makes so many fatal admissions that I believe this should be cause for concern to any Protestant reading it. An opponent challenges Buchanan, stating nowhere is the term logizomai (or chashab) ever used in regards to the three-fold Imputation. Buchanan admits he could find no such verses himself, but only that certain verses suggested as much. This is an invalid argument, especially considering he fails to examine the term logizomai himself, and instead is satisfied by quoting the infamous Philemon 1:18 as the chief proof text.

ñ  Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, p165-7:
“This [Rom 4:3] is an important passage, as the phrase ‘to impute faith for righteousness,’ occurs repeatedly in Paul’s writings. … [references 2 Chron 5:5; Mk 15:28; Isaiah 53:17; Gen 31:15; Isa 40:17; Job 19:11; 33:10; 2 Sam 19:19; 1 Sam 22:15; Ps 32:2; 2 Cor 5:19; 2 Tim 4:15] … These and numerous similar passages render the scriptural idea of imputation perfectly clear. It is laying anything to one’s charge, and treating him accordingly. It produces no change in the individual to whom the imputation is made; it simply alters his relation to the law. All those objections, therefore, to the doctrine expressed by this term, which are founded on the assumption that imputation alters the moral character of men; that it implies an infusion of either sin or holiness, rest on a misconception of its nature. It is, so far as the mere force of the term is concerned, a matter of perfect indifference whether the thing imputed belonged antecedently to the person to whom the imputation is made or not. It is just as common and correct to speak of laying to a man’s charge what does not belong to him, as what does. That a thing can seldom be justly imputed to a person to whom does not personally belong, is a matter of course. But that the word itself implies that the thing imputed must belong to the person concered, is a singular misconception. These remarks have, of course, reference only to the meaning of the word. Whether the Bible actually teaches that there is an imputation of either sin or righteousness, to any to whom it does not personally belong, is another question. That the Bible does speak both of imputing to a man what does not actually belong to him, and of not imputing what does, is evident from the following, among other passages… [references Lev 17:3-4; Lev 7:18; Philem 1:18; Rom v:13] … … This idea of imputation is one of the most familiar in all the Bible, and is expressed in a multitude of cases where the term is not used. … The objection, therefore, that the word impute does not occur in reference to the imputation of the sin or righteousness of one man to another, even if well founded, which it is not the fact, is of no more force than the objections against the doctrines of the Trinity, vicarious atonement, perserverance of the saints, &c., founded on the fact that these words do not occur in the Bible. The material point surely is, Do the ideas occur?”

While Hodge does list multiple passages where logizomai/chshab do occur, this is fundamentally dishonest scholarship for he has systematically gone through Scripture and ignored any occurrences which would hurt his claim. Just as outrageous is the definition he goes onto give. First of all, no Catholic should be arguing logizomai entails a transformation, since it does not; that’s really a red herring here. But Hodge uses this straw man to take liberties with defining the real meaning. He states that it is just as acceptable to speak of reckoning to someone something they actually possess as much as what they do not possess. How outrageous: not a single text he cites (nor any he fails to cite) say it’s acceptable to reckon to someone what they don’t possess. As he continues, he states this twisted definition is “one of the most familiar” in the Bible, despite only quoting 3 biased examples (which I addressed earlier), including the infamous Philemon 1:18! And as with Buchanan, Hodge admits he can find no Scriptural examples of the three-fold Imputation, and yet that doesn’t matter to him.
In another important text, Hodge makes similar comments:

Systematic Theology Bk3:Ch17:Sec5, The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer for his justification. The word impute is familiar and unambiguous. To impute is to ascribe to, to reckon to, to lay to one’s charge. When we say we impute a good or bad motive to a man, or that a good or evil action is imputed to him, no one misunderstands our meaning. Philemon had no doubt what Paul meant when he told him to impute to him the debt of Onesimus. [… also cites 1 Sam 22:15; 2 Sam 19:19; Lev 7:18; Lev 17:4; Ps 32:2; Rom 4:6; 2 Cor 5:19 …] The meaning of these and similar passages of Scripture has never been disputed. Everyone understands them. We use the word impute in its simple admitted sense, when we say that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer for his justification.

This drive-by exegesis is all too familiar and continues to be troubling. The idea that Hodge can be writing a systematic theology textbook and hiding and twisting such facts is astounding. The meaning of impute is by no means settled as he pretends, nor does the honest reader allow to slide his “proofs” from a biased sampling of the evidence.

ñ  Alexander Hodge, Outlines of Systematic Theology, Ch25, 9, To impute sin is simply to charge it to one’s account as the ground of punishment. (1) The Hebrew word [chashab] means to estimate, count, credit, impute as belonging to. – Genesis 31:15; Leviticus 7:18; Numbers 18:27; Psalm 106:31. (2) The same is true with regard to the Greek word logizomai —Isaiah 53:12; Romans 2:26; 4:3–9; 2 Corinthians 5:19. (3) The Scriptures assert that our sins are imputed to Christ.—Mark 15:28; Isaiah 53:6 and 12; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13.

As usual, a totally biased sampling of the evidence. What makes this attempt so sad though is that even the biased evidence doesn’t support what Hodge is trying to prove to his reader. Nowhere does the Bible say sins are imputed to Christ, that’s a totally inaccurate statement. Alexander had made similar erroneous comments elsewhere in his Systematic Theology textbook:

Outlines of Systematic Theology, Ch21, “Imputation” (the Hebrew chashab and the Greek logizomai frequently occurring and translated “to count,” “to reckon,” “to impute,” etc.) is simply to lay to one’s charge as a just ground of legal procedure, whether the thing imputed antecedently belonged to the person to whom it is charged, or for any other adequate reason he is Justly responsible for it. Thus not to impute sin to the doer of it, is of course graciously to refrain from charging the guilt of his own act or state upon him as a ground of punishment; while to impute righteousness without works is graciously to credit the believer with a righteousness which is not personally his own.—Romans 4:6,8; 2 Corinthians 5:19; see Numbers 30:15; 18:22–27,30; Leviticus 5:17,18; 7:18; 16:22; Romans 2:26; 2 Timothy 4:16, etc.

The same flawed logic, propped up by the same worthless analysis of the evidence. To admit the term logizomai appears frequently and yet to only quote a biased sample is dishonesty at its core.

ñ  Robert Dabney, Systematic Theology, Chapter 23, The Catechism says that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. This Latin word, to reckon or account to any one, is sometimes employed in the English Scriptures as the translation of [chashab], logizomai , ellogew, and correctly. Of the former we have instances in Gen. 15:6; 38:15; 2 Sam. 19:19; of the next in Mark 15:28; Rom. 2:26; 4:5, etc.; Gal. 3:6, etc.; and of the last, in Rom. 5:13; Philem. 18. Sometimes it is evident that the thing imputed is that which is actually done by or personally belongs to the person to whom it is reckoned, or set over. (This is what Turrettin calls imputation loosely so called). Sometimes the thing imputed belonged to, or was done by another, as in Philem. 18; Rom. 4:6. This is the imputation which takes place in the sinner’s justification. It may be said, without affecting excessive subtlety of definition, that by imputation of Christ’s righteousness, we only mean that Christ’s righteousness is so accounted to the sinner, as that he receives thereupon the legal consequences to which it entitles. In accordance with 2 Cor. 5:21, as well as with the dictates of sound reason, we regard it as the exact counterpart of the imputation of our sins to Christ. … When we attempt to prove this imputation, we are met with the assertion, by Arminians and theologians of the New England School, that there is no instance in the whole Bible of anything imputed, except that which the man personally does or possesses himself; so that there is no Scriptural warrant for this idea of transference of righteousness as to its legal consequences. We point, in reply, to Philemon 18, and to Romans 4:6.

This is one of the more revealing quotes in this list, somewhere up there by Buchanan’s admission. Notice how Dabney (a) limits the examples he gives, (b) admits the Bible doesn’t use logizomai in reference to Christ, and (c) uses Philemon 1:18 as his key interpretive text. He clearly understand the dilemma and what is hanging in the balance. And in a later chapter, he says:

Systematic Theology, Chatper 29, The Hebrew word [chashab] and the Greek, logizomai both mean primarily to think, then to deem or judge, then to impute or attribute. In this sense the former occurs in Ps. 32:2, and the latter in Rom. 4:6–8, as its translation. See also 2 Sam. 19:19; 2 Cor. 5:19; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23. Without going at this time into the vexed question, whether anything is ever said in Scripture to be imputed to any other than its own agent, I would define, that it is not Adam’s sin which is imputed to us, but the guilt (obligation to punishment) of his first sin.

More of the same. He is clearly not interested in analyzing logizomai, but pushing through an agenda. Notice how he quotes Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23, both saying the same thing, when there are numerous other verses he can cite.

ñ  B.B. Warfield, Studies in Theology, Chapter 10, The theological use of the term “imputation” is probably rooted ultimately in the employment of the verb imputo in the Vulgate to translate the Greek verb logizesthai in Psalm 32:2. This passage is quoted by Paul in Romans 4:8 and made one of the foundations of his argument that, in saving man, God sets to his credit a righteousness without works. It is only in these two passages, and in the two axiomatic statements of Romans 4:4 and 5:13 that the Vulgate uses imputo in this connection (cf., with special application, 2 Timothy 4:16; Philemon 1:18). … Romans 4:11, 22, 23, 24; 2 Corinthians 5:19; James 2:23…Galatians 3:6…Romans 4:4, 9, 10…  the technical term for that which is expressed by the Greek words in their so-called “commercial” sense, or what may, more correctly, be called their forensic or “judicial” sense, “that is, putting to one’s account,” or, in its twofold reference to the credit and debit sides, “setting to one’s credit” or “laying to one’s charge.”

Warfield says a lot, but nothing at all. He doesn’t examine logizomai at all, except to tell us how it was rendered in Latin. His real focus should be to see whether the Greek meaning conforms to his own. Instead, we get is numerous references to Genesis 15:6, and passing references to 2 Timothy 4:19, 2 Corinthians 5:19, and Philemon 1:18. This is all in keeping with his predecessors.

ñ  Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, p211f, The word [logizesthai] can certainly mean “to hold or consider a person for what he or she is” (1 Cor. 4:1; 2 Cor. 12:6). However, it can also have the sense of “to credit to a person something one does not personally possess.” Thus the sins of those who believer are not counted against them although they do have them (Rom. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:19; cf. 2 Tim 4:16); and thus they are counted against Christ, although he was without sin (Isa. 53:4-6 …) . Similarly, to those who believe, a righteousness is imputed that they do not have (Rom. 4:5)…

The logic here is just bad. These comments are typical of those who have not stopped and carefully looked at the evidence and simply repeated what others have told them. The idea that logizomai “can also mean” credit to a person something they don’t possess is not accurate at all, nor do those Biblical texts show this. In fact, those texts show that to not impute sin means to forgive, it does not mean “and thus they are counted against Christ,” which is a logical fallacy of begging the question. And to top that off, Bavink lumps Romans 4:3 into the second camp rather than the first, without even giving the former a chance.

ñ  Douglass Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, p262, Of considerable importance for Paul’s use of the text [Gen 15:6] is the meaning of God’s “reckoning” Abraham’s faith “for” righteousness. The language could suggest that his faith is considered as the “equivalent” of righteousness – that God sees Abraham’s faith as itself a “righteous” act, well pleasing to him. But if we compare other verses in which the same grammatical construction as is used in Gen. 15:6 occurs, we arrive at a different conclusion. These parallels suggest that the “reckoning” of Abraham’s faith as righteousness means “to account to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him.” [FN35] Abraham’s response to God’s promise leads God to “reckon” to him a “status” of righteousness. If this interpretation of Gen. 15:6 is correct, then Paul’s application of the verse is both fair and appropriate.

[Footnote 35: …offerings or sacrifices which are “reckoned” to a person’s benefit cf. Lev. 7:18; Num. 18:27, 30… Others refer to a status, or legal standing, which someone “reckons” to someone else. In 2 Sam. 19:20, e.g., Shimei, who confesses his sin, nevertheless asks David not to “credit his guilt against him”. What Shimei is asking is that David “reckon” or “regard” him in a way that overlooks, or does not correspond to, the facts of the case. In Ps. 106:31, similarly, God’s “reckoning” of Phinehas as righteous (see Num. 25) is a declarative act, not an equivalent compensation or reward for merit (cf. Also Gen. 31:15; Ps. 32:2).]

Totally astounding. Moo admits the language certainly fits the reading that faith itself was reckoned as a righteous act, but says if we only compare texts with similar construction we will come to an opposite conclusion. Yet what are these parallel texts? Nothing but a few verses of biased sampling, including the whopper Psalm 106:31, which uses identical construction yet conveniently skimmed. This kind of scholarship is downright embarrassing.

ñ  D. A. Carson, Justification: What’s at Stake (Ch2 “Vindication of Imputation”), P55ff,
Because Paul says that faith is counted as righteousness, Gundry says that, in effect, Abraham’s righteousness “consists of faith even though faith is not itself a work.” 29 Faith becomes the equivalent of righteousness that is the way God “counts” faith, though of course faith and righteousness in themselves are not to be confused. Merely to assert, however, that faith of such equivalent value is not itself a work would not have impressed readers familiar with the Jewish background, where the precise counter-claim was standard fare. Moreover, although it is true that one important Old Testament text with the same grammatical construction (in the LXX) establishes a similar sort of equivalence (Ps 106:28 [31]), the equivalence in that case is not between faith and righteousness, but between a righteous deed and righteousness (the righteous deed in question is the zealous execution of public sinners by Phinehas, Num 25:7- 13). In other words, in this instance “God’s ‘reckoning’ Phinehas as righteous (see Num 25) is a declarative act, not an equivalent compensation or reward for merit (cf. also Gen 31:15; Ps 32:2).”30

Carson begins by quoting Gundry (a modern Protestant scholar who is making similar claims as Catholics regarding imputation and receiving a lot of criticism by Calvinist authors). Of course, Carson does not present any worthy counter argument at all, and makes the ridiculous ‘out-of-thin-air’ distinction that despite identical language, Psalm 106 was speaking of a “righteous deed” while Genesis 15 was speaking of “righteousness” itself. Now examine the footnotes #28 and #30, where Carson says:

[Footnote 28]… the Hebrew verb has little to do with “counting” or “reckoning” in a commercial sense, and much more to do with the notion of “plan,” “invent,” “devise,” or, alternatively, to denote a kind of thinking in which will and emotion are involved, or to denote “count (as)” or “count [something or someone](as),” often as a subjective judgment (e.g., Gen 31:15; 1 Sam 1:13; Job 41:27, 29; Is 5:28). But this presupposes not only that Paul made this subtle distinction in his interpretation of Genesis 15:6, but that he expected his readers to, which is highly unlikely…

30 Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 262 n. 35. This distinction perfectly reflects the fact that sometimes logizomai conceives of the “counting” or the “imputing” as a reckoning up of what is in fact there, and sometimes conceives of the “counting” or the “imputing” as a reckoning up of one thing as another thing. See further below.

Carson seems to be suggesting that Paul didn’t really know how logizomai was to be used, and that he wouldn’t have used a subtle definition. Carson would not say this if he actually opened up a lexicon and examined the verses where it appears. Then he quotes Moo’s commentary on Romans, which I also reference. Carson uses this ipse dixit to garner support of the faulty definition of “reckon” he seeks to establish. Now to see some actual “proofs,” Carson goes onto say:

Of greater interest, because they are conceptually closer to Genesis 15:6, are those passages where the same construction is used to say that something is imputed or reckoned to another as something else. Thus Leah and Rachel assert that their father “reckons” them as “strangers” (though obviously they are not, Gen 31:15). The Levite’s tithe is “reckoned” as the corn of the threshing-floor and as the fullness of the winepress, though transparently it is neither (Num 18:27, 30). If a certain sacrifice is not eaten by the third day, its value is lost, and it is not “reckoned” to the benefit of the sinner (Lev 7:18): clearly the passage “envisions a situation in which righteousness could be ‘reckoned’ to a person, even though the individual concerned admittedly is a sinner.”31 The relevant expression … is used in other passages to refer to the offering of sacrifices that are “reckoned” to a person’s benefit (e.g., Num 18:27, 30). In other words, neither the verb nor the grammatical form will allow us to decide whether this “faith” that Abraham exercises was originally viewed as a righteous act which God himself then declared to be righteous (as the act of Phinehas was declared to be righteous, Ps 106:28, above), or, alternatively, that this “faith” that Abraham exercises is to be viewed as belonging to a different species than “righteous act,” with the result that when it is “reckoned” or “imputed” to Abraham “as righteousness” it provides an instance in which, although God himself “reckons” it as righteousness, this is an instance in which something is imputed to another as something else. 32 How then shall we decide? We clearly see, of course, that the Jewish heritage in which Paul stood before his conversion opts for the former.

Sticking to the main plan, Carson carefully selects (and botches) a few biased examples. His own argument of examining the use of “reckon” in Genesis totally backfires, for he totally misunderstands the Leah/Rachel passage (and ignores Gen 38:15, both of which I’ve commented on earlier). But for him to say the verb nor grammatical form will allow us to decide is laughable. Nothing he presented points to an exegetical ‘draw’, much less Paul’s Jewish heritage being the deciding factor. Now consider another important footnote:

32 Strangely, Don Garlington, “Imputation or Union with Christ?” n. 4, refers to the sorts of passages in which there is not strict equivalence as supporting a “non-imputational” reading of logi/zomai. It is true that logi/zomai has a semantic range large enough to include non-imputational readings: see, for instance, Romans 3:28, briefly discussed below. But these passages are not among them. In each instance, something that is not-X is reckoned to be X. To label them “non-imputational” in order to enforce the conclusion that the faith of Romans 4:3 demonstrates that Abraham was thus rightly reckoned to be righteous is to pre-judge the linguistic matters and, as I shall argue above, distort the flow of Paul’s argument.

Carson is playing fast and loose with his conclusions, likely deliberately. Garlington is another Gundry, both Protestant scholars who are pointing out (though imperfectly) that the Bible does not teach imputation, and this is causing serious unrest among the Reformed. This is the first time Carson has been willing to look at other texts, but even here doesn’t give them any chance.

… By contrast, the analogy of Romans 4:4 does not tell us what the wages are credited as, that is, what they terminate in, but simply specifies whether they are credited “according to obligation” or “according to grace.” In other words, the structure of the crediting or imputing language is not consistent through these verses, so it becomes easy to force the wrong kind of parallelism and miss the train of thought. Romans 4:4 establishes that there is a crediting, an imputing, that is nothing more than getting your dessert; there is also a crediting, an imputing, that means something is credited to your account that you do not deserve. But Paul does not make this analogy from the field of wages walk on all fours and try to specify what this wage is credited as. It is sufficient for his argument, at this juncture, that the distinction between merited imputation and unmerited imputation be preserved.

Carson is rightly noting the parallelism does not carry directly over, but he admits that Romans 4:4 establishes an imputing “that is nothing more than getting your dessert,” in other words, reckoning what is indeed owed! This is crucial, for it shows how Paul is using reckon right within this context.

…Fifth, although Gundry asserts, doubtless fairly, that he can find no unambiguous instance in the LXX, the New Testament, or in pagan literature, of logi/zomai being used to refer to something being imputed in an instrumental sense, one must also aver that the verb is not a terminus technicus. It has an astonishingly wide range of meaning. Note, for instance, Romans 3:28: “we reckon (logizo/meqa) that a man is justified by faith (pi/stei)”: here (i) the “reckoning” is certainly not imputation in any technical sense, (ii) the justification (in the light of the preceding paragraph) is grounded in Christ’s cross-work, and (iii) the means of benefitting from Christ’s propitiatory death is unambiguously faith. In the light of such linguistic realities, it seems a bit doctrinaire to read the Genesis 15:6 citation in Romans 4 in the controlling way that Gundry advocates.

This is another very revealing passage. Carson admits that Gundry is right in claiming never is logizomai used in an “instrumental sense,” meaning never is X used as a ‘tool’ to transfer something from one place to another: thus the historic Protestant reading of “faith reckoned as righteousness” meaning ‘faith is the tool that reaches out and grabs and transfers righteousness to me’ is a wholly novel idea with zero biblical precedent. To add to this, Carson says logizomai has an “astonishingly wide range of meaning,” which is totally false: it has a very narrow range of meaning! And his “proof” of wide range of meaning actually betrays his total lack of understanding and research, since Romans 3:28 follows the same pattern of logizomai throughout Scripture!

…The language of 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 is also instructive. … Explicitly, then, Paul speaks of the non-imputation of our sins to ourselves— that is, God refuses to count up to our account what is in fact there — on the ground that God made Christ, himself sinless, to be sin for us. True, the text does not explicitly say that God imputes our sins to Christ, but as long as we perceive that Jesus dies in our place, and bears our curse, and was made “sin” for us, it is extraordinarily difficult to avoid the notion of the imputation of our sins to him.

This is the closest thing any Reformed author has ever been able to dig up as proof that our sins were imputed to Christ, since the Bible never uses logizomai in this way. The Protestant argument is that since our sin wasn’t logizomai to us (since they were forgiven, cf David’s example in Psalm 32), that they “thus must be” imputed to someone else, namely Christ. But this is a total logical fallacy. Just because sin isn’t imputed to X does not at all require ‘then they must be imputed to Y’.

Part V

ñ  Thomas Schriner, Galatians, p192, The verb “count” (?????????) can refer to something that is reckoned to someone. For example, Phinehas’s zeal in killing the Hebrew and the Midianite woman “was counted to him as righteousness” (Ps 106:31). Phinehas was counted righteous because he was righteous. In Gen 15:6, however, righteousness is reckoned to Abraham even though it does not belong to him. Abraham was counted as righteous by faith, even though he was not inherently righteous.

That’s the extent of his treatment of this all important matter, in a commentary on Galatians (esp. Gal 3:6) designed to address this kind of stuff. This sort of ‘drive by’ exegesis of crucial terms is unacceptable.

Shreiner, Romans, p215, This polarity between believing and working casts light on the meaning of the verb [logizesthai], which plays a major role in this chapter. The conception is that something is reckoned to a person that is not inherent to him or her. God’s righteousness is not native to human beings; it is an alien righteousness granted to us by God’s grace.

His Romans commentary is even more unacceptable. Where is any analysis? How did he get this definition? This kind of scholarship should not be.

ñ  James White, The Roman Catholic Controversy, pp. 155f; (c.f. The God Who Justifies, pp.112f), The Hebrew term hashav has some interesting uses in the Old Testament. We need to discover the background of Paul’s use of the term as it is found relative to the imputation of righteousness. … [quotes Genesis 31:14f and Leviticus 25:31] … All of the examples listed above of this use hashav are translated in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) by the very same term [logizomai] Paul uses in Romans 4 when he speaks of the imputation or reckoning of righteousness to the believer! Why is this so significant? Because scholars recognize that Paul utilized the Septuagint as his main source of biblical citations, and his vocabulary is deeply influenced by it. Our understanding of what it means to impute something should take this into consideration.

White starts off admitting we need to look at the background of the term, but what does White do? He quotes two biased examples, which ironically don’t even support what he wants to get at. This is his definition of getting a good idea of what the Bible defines “reckoned” as before we approach Genesis 15:6. That is unacceptable research.

ñ  John Piper, Counted Righteous In Christ, p57, footnote 4,
In a helpful article on Genesis 15:6, O. Palmer Robertson points to several places in the Pentateuch where a person is “reckoned” to be something he is not. For example:

(1) … (Genesis 31:15). Leah and Rachel say that Jacob “reckons” them to be strangers when in fact they are his daughters.

(2) … (Numbers 18:27: cf. v. 30). The Levite’s tithe is “reckoned” as the threshing-floor corn and the fullness of the winepress though it is neither of these things.

That’s the extent of Piper’s treatment I’ve been able to find. As with White, Piper doesn’t do his homework and falls back on these ‘decisive’ proofs, failing to see his biased and invalid appeal. But as we’ve seen, this is par for the course.

ñ  John MacArthur, Romans, p33f, Imputed: Used in both financial and legal settings, the Greek word means to take something that belongs to someone and credit it to another’s account. It is a one-sided transaction. As in the case of Abraham, Abraham did nothing to accumulate it; God simply credited it to him. God took His own righteousness and credited to Abraham as if it were actually his.

That is the most MacArthur could come up with in a book dedicated to analyzing the book of Romans? He cites no examples, just asserts, and falsely at that.

MacArthur, Abraham-Justified by Faith Pt1, The word “counted,” very important word. It’s the word logizomai. That word is used 11 times in this section. In fact, I think it’s 11 times right in this immediate section. And what does it mean – logizomai. It means “to credit to one’s account, to put to one’s account, to reckon, to impute to one.” And what it’s saying is that because he believed God imputed to him, put to his account, a righteousness which Abraham on his own did not possess. That’s the whole point.

For such an important word, MacArthur spends no time learning about it. Instead he gives his own opinion, which is a false definition, and tells us if we fail to get this right, we’re the one’s who have blown it!

ñ  Brian Vickers, Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness, p80-83, One basic sense of [impute] can be seen in a text such as Numbers 18:27. The tithe given by the Levites, which is a tenth of what they themselves received as tithes, is reckoned or counted as a tithe of their own produce. Dumbrell narrows the word down to two categories. In the first, something is reckoned to a person or thing when in reality the facts argue to the contrary. [cites Job 13:24; 19:11; 33:13; 41:27; Heb 11:19] If this is the sense in Genesis 15:6, then God “reckons” Abraham’s faith as righteousness; faith counts for something else, namely, righteousness. In the second category, something is reckoned to a person or thing and the facts argue that the “something” is indeed true. [cites Lev 7:18; 17:4; Num 18:27; 2 Sam 19:19; Ps 32:2; Ps 106:31; Prov 27:14] Thus the “something” is reckoned appropriately. For Abraham this would mean that his faith is reckoned for righteousness because it really is the case. Scholars often note the similarities between Genesis 15:6 and Psalm 106:31. … For now, and in spite of the similarity in wording, the reckoning of Abraham’s faith seems to have more in common with those texts where one thing is reckoned as something else than it does with reckoning Phinehas’s action. For example, when Laban “reckons” his daughers as foreigners (Gen 31:15), he clearly is not asserting that they really are foreign but that for all intents are purposes he views them as such. He is counting one thing (flesh and blood daughters) as something else (foreigners).

[Footnote 29 Other examples include Proverbys 27:14 in which a loud morning blessing spoken to a friend will be “reckoned a curse” to the inconsiderate early-riser; likewise, Shimei asks David not to “reckon” his guilt to him, i.e. to reckon his guilt as innocence (2 Sam 19:19). Like the case of Laban and his daughters, in both of these examples, one thing (a blessing; Shimei’s guilt) is counted for another (a curse; innocence).]

Not only does he follow the pattern of only listing biased examples, he totally self-refutes his own argument. For example, he quotes Hebrews 11:19, where Abraham “reckons” God was powerful enough to bring Isaac back to life, as proof of facts pointing to the contrary! And despite citing 2 Sam 19:19 as proof of imputing what is indeed true, he totally reverses this judgment in footnote 29. As with other Protestants, Vickers sees that he must explain away the clear similarity between Phinehas and Abraham, and proceeds to beg the question. Again, all of this horrendous scholarship is par for the course.

Next are some authors that are relatively popular but cannot seem to muster up more than a few sentences on the subject:

ñ  John Fesko, Justification, p191 & 194f, This term [chashab] is important because it is used in a number of legal texts for counting (Lev. 7:18; 17:4; Num. 18: 27, 30; Prov. 27:14; Ps. 106:31).

ñ  Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, p197, The verb credited [Fn15: For logizomai see the note on 2:3. It is used of Phinehas in Ps 106:31.] is used in the keeping of accounts. It was set down to Abraham’s account [Fn16: Godet comments, “It is possible to put to one’s account what he possesses or what he does not possess. In the first case it is a simple act of justice; in the second, it is a matter of grace. The latter is Abraham’s case, since God reckons his faith to him for what it is not: for righteousness.”] that he was righteous.

ñ  Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans, p147, Beginning with the use of “reckon” in Gen 15:6 (see 4:3 [p74f, in which Johnson totally ignores any analysis of logizomai when discussing Abraham and Rom 4!!]), Paul has spoken of a number of “reckonings” from the side of humans and of God (see 2:3, 26; 3:28; 4:4-6, 23-24; 6:11). Most pertinently, in contrast to the perception of opponents that Paul and his associates should be “reckoned as sheep for the slaughter [Rom 8:36; Ps 43:23; cf Isa 53:7],” Paul began this section by affirming [Rom. 8:18].

ñ  Michael Horton, Covenant & Salvation: Union with Christ, on page 116. Horton makes a passing and indirect reference to logizomai, quoting an objector. Despite using the term “imputation” numerous times, I found no actual analysis of the term. In his new major book The Christian Faith, he mentions: “Counting as” or “being counted as,” logizomai eis, is also found in Romans 2:26; 9:8 and 2 Corinthians 12:6; as well as Acts 19:27 and James 2:23. Although the term does not appear in Romans 5, the idea is evident throughout Paul’s comparison and contrast between Adam and Christ.”

ñ  John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, p131, Paul could not have appealed to Psalm 106:31 in this connection without violating his whole argument. For if he had appealed to Psalm 106:31 in the matter of justification, the justification of the ungodly (cf. vs. 5), then the case of Phinehas would have provided an inherent contradiction and would have demonstrated justification by a righteous and zealous act. Though then the formula in Genesis 15:6 is similar to that of Psalm 106:31, the subjects with which they deal are diverse.

ñ  Zondervan Bible Dictionary, “Impute”, (Heb. chashav, Gr. logizomai). A word meaning to attribute something to another person, to reckon something to another’s account. … Imputation is mentioned throughout Scripture (Lev 7:18; 17:4; 2 Sam 19:19; Ps 32:2; Rom 4:3 – 25; 5:13; 2 Cor 5:19; Gal 3:6; James 2:23), underlying the doctrines of original sin, atonement, and justification.

That’s the extent of the treatment which each of these authors gives. As you can see, it’s more of the same of what’s been said elsewhere, with the same problems (e.g. wrong definitions, biased verses).

The following are authors that reference Philemon and use that as their exclusive lens by which to define imputation:

ñ  John Gill, Justification, p77, Section 5B, The form of it, is imputation; or the manner in which the righteousness of Christ is made over to a sinner, and it becomes his, is by imputing it to him; [quotes Rom 4:6]. The words used both in the Hebrew and Greek, signify, to reckon, repute, estimate, attribute, and place something to the account of another: as when the apostle said to Philemon, concerning Onesimus

ñ  LS Chafer, Systematic Theology, p191, The word impute means to reckon over unto one’s account, as the Apostle writing to Phielmon regarding whatever Onesimus might owe Philemon declared: “Put that on mine account” (1:18). Because of the various phases of the doctrine involved, imputation becomes at once one of the major fundamental doctrines of Christianity. On this account great care is enjoined, that the student may comprehend the teaching perfectly. There are three major imputations set forth in the Scriptures, as will be seen below.

ñ  William Webster, The Biblical Teaching on Justification, This word [logizomai] is used forty–one times in the New Testament. It means a mental evaluation, conclusion or judgment regarding a particular issue. It is an accounting term. Paul illustrates this in his letter to Philemon

ñ  International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Imputation”, … it makes no difference whether that which is imputed is something which is personally one’s own prior to the imputation, as in the case above cited, where his own good deed was imputed to Phinehas (Psalms 106:30f), or something which is not personally one’s own prior to the imputation, as where Paul asks that a debt not personally his own be charged to him (Philemon 1:18). In all these cases the act of imputation is simply the charging of one with something.

Not only have these authors all come to erroneous conclusions by citing Phielmon as their chief text, they totally ignore any texts where logizomai actually occurs. Despite how much “care” they claim we need to have, they don’t seem to be taking “great care” themselves.

Lastly, here is a list of authors of which I could find no mention of logizomai or imputation in their works I consulted:

ñ  R. C. Sproul – I don’t recall him mentioning anything in his book Faith Alone relating to logizomai or any generic analysis of impute in Scripture. He does have the famous video describing double imputation, which would likely play into all these false definitions.

ñ  R. Scott Clark – I couldn’t find anything online be it book or articles on justification. His book Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry says practically nothing on imputation but did mention the word logizomai in passing.

ñ  Charles Spurgeon – Various talk on justifcation but nothing more than the mere mention of the word “imputation” scattered throughout.

ñ  Meredeth Kline – I could not find any books or articles focusing on imputation.

ñ  J.I. Packer – I did not find anything relating to logizomai or analysis of imputation in any of his online articles.

ñ  Louis Berkhof – In his popular seminary textbook, Systematic Theology, I couldn’t find any mention of logizomai nor even any examples/analysis.

ñ  Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, p176. He mentions logizomai in passing, with no analysis.

ñ  John Frame – I couldn’t find anything online be it book or articles on justification.

ñ  Thomas F Torrance,  Atonement, p136. The most Torrance says is Paul’s use of logizomai is the same as the Reformer’s concept of “impute”.

ñ  C. FitzSimmons Allison, Guilt, Anger & God, p45: “Another reason for the present hiddenness of the Gospel message is that the scriptural word logidzomai, crucial for understanding this good news, lost its force in English by being weakly translated ‘impute,’ a word not often used today.”

If anyone has any knowledge of references to logizomai in these authors, I will be glad to quote them and comment upon them. I suspect that, following the trend we’ve seen, these authors have likely not spoken on logizomai in any significant manner. For such a crucial term, it should be relatively easy to find references, not hard.

Part VI

Refreshing Honesty

This final section will look at some generally honest authors who, for whatever reason, have felt it necessary to be upfront and honest about what the Bible does and does not say about logizomai. The sad news though is that often authors that shows this kind of courage are marginalized and ridiculed by the mainstream.

ñ  Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible (Commentary on Romans 4:3), Was counted – ???????? elogigisth?. The same word in Romans 4:22, is is rendered “it was imputed.” The word occurs frequently in the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, the verb ???? chaashab, which which is translated by the word ????????? logizomai, means literally, “to think, to intend,” or “purpose; to imagine, invent,” or “devise; to reckon,” or “account; to esteem; to impute,” that is, to impute to a man what belongs to himself, or what “ought” to be imputed to him. It occurs only in the following places: Psalm 32:2; Psalm 35:4; Isaiah 10:7; Job 19:11; Job 33:10; Genesis 16:6; Genesis 38:15; 1 Samuel 1:13; Psalm 52:4; Jeremiah 18:18; Zechariah 7:10; Job 6:26; Job 19:16; Isaiah 13:17; 1 Kings 10:21; Numbers 18:27, Numbers 18:30; Psalm 88:4; Isaiah 40:17; Lamentations 4:2; Isaiah 40:15; Genesis 31:16. I have examined all the passages, and as the result of my examination have come to the conclusion, that there is not one in which the word is used in the sense of reckoning or imputing to a man what does not strictly belong to him; or of charging on him what ought not to be charged on him as a matter of personal right. The word is never used to denote imputing in the sense of transferring, or of charging that on one which does not properly belong to him. The same is the case in the New Testament. The word occurs about forty times (see “Schmidius’ Concord),” and, in a similar signification. No doctrine of transferring, or of setting over to a man what does not properly belong to him, be it sin or holiness, can be derived, therefore, from this word. Whatever is meant by it here, it evidently is declared that the act of believing is what is intended, both by Moses and by Paul.

This quote confirms everything I’ve said. Though there are more passages he could have listed, his overall conclusion is exactly correct. Of course, talk like this didn’t make Barnes a popular Presbyterian, and though he was tried for heresy was not convicted.

ñ  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p207f & 512f, hashab is found approximately 120 times, meaning “reckon,” “account,” “esteem,” “regard.” hashab is also used about thirty times with the related meaning “consider.” One of the best known uses of this term is found in Isa 53:3, where the Suffering Servant of Yahweh is descrbed as one who has had no consideration from his own people, no regard, no esteem. Rather, is his considered worthless and dishonorable. Then, in Isa. 53:4, this pathos is deepened by the observation that his people regard him as afflicted by God. Another significant use of the term is found in Gen. 15:6, where it is said that God regarded or counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness. In other words, God considered Abraham to be a righteous man in light of the faith he demonstrated. Similar uses of hashab with this meaning are found in Neh. 13:13; Ps 106:31. with the negative sense of the imputation of guilt, hashab is found in Lev. 7:18; 17:4. Other mundane uses of hashab with the meaning “consider” are found in Num 18:27; Job 18:3; Isa 40:14; 2 Sam 4:2; Num. 23:9. … logizomai is a verb found about forty times, translated various ways, with the underlying connotation of mental “reasoning” or “calculating.” It often means to “count,” “consider,” “or reckon.” The meaning “count” in the sense of “consider” or “regard,” is found a number of places. “Regarding” uncircumcision as circumcision, as in the case of Gentiles who were devout followers of the Jewish Law, is the meaning of Rom. 2:26. To “consider” someone justified by faith rather than works of the law is a position indicated in Rom. 3:28. This assessment applies especially to Abraham in Rom. 4:3ff; Gal. 3:6; Jas. 2:23. “Regarding” oneself as dead to sin is a state of mind indicated in Rom. 6:11. Believers “considered” as sheep to be slaughtered are indicated in the context of persecution in Rom. 8:36. In Rom. 9:8, children of Abraham are “reckoned” as children of God. God refuses to “count” the sins of his people against them in 2 Cor. 5:19. Other occurrences include those in 1 Cor. 4:1; 2 Cor. 12:6; Phil. 3:13; 2 Tim 4:16; Heb. 11:19. … … [P512f.] With Yahweh as the agent of imputation, the following texts illustrate this usage of hashab. Righteousness is imputed to Abraham on account of his faith in Gen. 15:6. Lev. 7:18 declares that flawed offerings are refused by Yahweh – that is, they are not credited or imputed to the worshipers benefit. According to Lev. 17:4, failure to present one’s sacrificial animal for offering in the prescribed way will result in severe punishment for the worshiper, who is “reckoned” to be guilt of bloodshed. In Isa. 40:15, the Gentile nations are reckoned by Yahweh to be utterly insignificant in their opposition to him. They are considered as dust on the scales. In Job 13:24; 19:11; 33:10, Job mistakenly believes that God counts him as his enemy. In other contexts, it is not Yahweh but human agency that is involved in the process of imputation. 2 Sam. 19:19 contains Shimei’s plea to King David not to “hold” him guilt. In Neh. 13:13, a group of Levitical scribes is considered, or reckoned, to be trustworthy. Prov 17:28 refers to the reckoning or imputation of wisdom. Other general references to this process are found in 2 Sam. 4:2; 1 Kgs. 10:21; Ps. 44:22.

This is one of the most fair and honest treatments I’ve found. The only source more direct and honest is Barnes. This quote above has everything. It quotes numerous examples, properly analyzes them, doesn’t inject agendas, doesn’t try to sneak in texts like Philemon, and overall gives any unbiased reader precisely the information they need to be properly informed.

ñ  Peter Leithart, his personal website, August 14, 2004, In Rom 2:3, Paul warns the sinner that passing judgment on others does not save anyone from condemnation; don’t “reckon” that you will escape the judgment of God by casting accusations in other directions, Paul says. Don’t reckon yourself, in short, safe from God’s condemning judgment; don’t judge yourself favorably simply because you have condemned other sinners. LOGIZOMAI here, especially in combination with the final clause of the verse, is virtually equivalent to KRINEIN. In Rom 14:14, Paul says that anyone who “reckons anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Here reckon does not mean first covering over something clean with a cloak of uncleanness, and then judging it unclean. To “reckon” a thing unclean simply means to judge it unclean, to put it in the category of unclean. In 1 Cor 4:1, Paul tells the Corinthians how they are to “reckon” Paul and his associates as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Clearly, this has nothing to do with reckoning Paul to be something other than he is. Nor is there any notion of transferring servanthood to Paul’s account. Paul’s exhortation is that the Corinthians judge him according to what he in fact is – a servant of Christ. If this is how LOGIZOMAI is to be taken in Rom 4:3, for instance, we would have this conclusion: The phrase “reckon righteous” is simply a synonym for “justify.” When God “reckoned Abraham righteous,” he was judging him to be so. This doesn’t work so well with the usage of the verb in verse 4, it appears. But it is a line of investigation worth pursuing.

Leithart is an interesting person, because while he is Reformed, he was accused of embracing “heretical” views by his Reformed leaders. He was acquitted, but many Calvinists are still uneasy about his views of justification. As you can see from his frank and honest (even though insufficient) look at logizomai, he is certainly onto something. Clearly, just taking a fair look at how the Bible uses the term will reveal a lot. The obvious “problem” is that his honest research should him to conclude the Protestant reading of Romans 4:3 is false.

ñ  Ligoneir website [run by Sproul, but not all articles are his], “Devotionals: Focus on the Facts,” Now Paul gives us something he has not given heretofore—an exhortation: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Rom 6:11] At last—something to do. But we must be careful to understand what Paul is saying before we spring into action. The key word, the imperative verb here, is reckon. This is the Greek word logizomai, which was used in bookkeeping (to speak of the value of something or to appraise a project’s success) and in philosophy (to refer to objective reasoning). “The common ground in these two uses of the word is that logizomai has to do with reality, with things as they truly are,” Dr. James M. Boice writes in his Romans commentary. “It is an acknowledgement of or an acting upon something that is already true or has already happened.” Paul is exhorting us to get a firm mental grasp on two important facts. First, we are dead to sin. As we have seen, this means that our old life of complacent sinfulness is ended and we cannot go back to it. Second, we are alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This is a very accurate definition of logizomai. Unfortunately, it isn’t talked about within the ‘dangerous’ contexts of justification (e.g. Romans 4), so Protestants tend to be more honest about its meaning. If this meaning were applied to Romans 4:3, then “unfortunate” consequences would follow.

ñ  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says ( “Imputation”): Three acts of imputation are given special prominence in the Scripture, and are implicated in the Scriptural doctrines of Original Sin, Atonement and Justification, though not usually expressed by the words chashabh and logizomai.

As has been shown, the three-fold imputation is not only “not usually expressed” by the term logizomai, they never are!

ñ  Richard D Phillips, By Faith Alone, p80, What about Gundry’s survey of logizomai, which purportedly proves that when the Bible reckons one thing as another, it has identification and not imputation in view? This is an example, in my view, of both the strength and weakness of so-called biblical theology today: Gundry rigorously examines the usage of a particular phrase, but the conclusions he draws are not at all to the point when it comes to the theological doctrine at hand. The reason for this is that the passages from which Reformed theology deduces the doctrine of imputed righteousness do not rely upon a particular use of logizomai. In most of the key passages I will cite, logizomai is not used at all; this shows that Paul does not rely on a particular verb in teaching this doctrine but rather on the ideas that he conveys.

In other words, because Gundry has analyzed the term it self and found out it doesn’t agree with historic Protestantism, that Gundry’s methodology must be flawed. And to add insult to injury, Phillips thinks it’s OK to say Reformed theology does not depend upon the meaning of logizomai, and that it’s OK to use passages that don’t even use the term! In other words, he implicitly admits logizomai is not on the Protestant side but isn’t concerned about it.

Conclusion:

While it is unfortunate that it took this many pages, often repeating the same thing, this is important to demonstrate just how widespread the ignorance and misinformation there is out there on such a crucial term. These are the “teachers” of the average pew-sitter as well as seminarian, who ends up repeating and perpetuating the errors. It is very clear that Protestant scholarship is thoroughly bankrupt on this matter, with a few honest men still found on the fringes.

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90 thoughts on “A Study on Imputation of Righteousness”

  1. A very extensive study. Thanks I’ll keep it for future reference.

    One irony of anyone who believes in the full TULIP of Calvinism, is that they should believe in total sanctification. This contradicts several parts of TULIP. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_points_of_Calvinism#Five_points_of_Calvinism )

    The argument goes like this:
    (1) Is God sovereign?
    (2) Is God’s will irresistible?
    (3) Does God hate sin and think that sin is worthy of Hell?
    (4) (Bonus question) Assuming you’re one of the elect, do you desire to be free from sin out of gratitude to God?

    Any good Calvinist will say yes to all the above, and would have a hard time explaining why the above does not lead to the conclusion that the elect must be sanctified (either in this life or the next) and imputation is an unnecessary hypothesis that mocks God’s sovereignity. It’s not as if imputation is needed so you can be chosen. According to Calvinism, you were chosen before you were born against your will.

    1. Anil said:
      “One irony of anyone who believes in the full TULIP of Calvinism, is that they should believe in total sanctification.”

      I know what you are saying Anil, and I agree to a point, but having been a Calvinist, let me say that I would have responded to you by focusing on the Calvinist conception of “simil eustis et peccator”, that we are victims of Total Depravity, damnably sinning every tiny second of our life, yet covered in Christ’s righteousness, so sanctification of what is under the “blanket” of Christ, so to speak, is really not on the Calvinist radar. So if you confront a Calvinist with your criticism, he may not quite track with you. Terms are so different.

  2. I can’t stand Calvinism. It sends people back into themselves, instead of giving them the assurance that Christ died to give them.

    We believe that Christ’s death and forgiveness to sinners is a free gift. We are not made Holy…we are declared Holy, for Jesus’ sake. we believe that the Scriptures make this quite clear in may places.

    That’s why the gospel is called the “Good News”. How good could it really be if we had to muster uo some goodness of our own to add to what Christ has done for us? When Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, and when He said, “It is finished”, it wasn’t the starter’s pistol to our religious ladder climbing.

    No, it really is a free gift. He really did do it all, for us. And He doesn’t leave any of it up to us to screw up. And He gives us real assurance of that fact in the sacraments, where the cross and resrrection is brought forth, in real time, in a concrete way to our personal time and space. Something that Calvinists do not get.

    Thanks.

    1. Steve said:
      “I can’t stand Calvinism. It sends people back into themselves, instead of giving them the assurance that Christ died to give them.”

      I was a Calvinist, and I had absolute assurance. Rock solid. I am not saying Calvinism is true (I am a Catholic now so obviously I dont think it is true) but I am just saying that your perception may be off. If anything, much of Calvinism aproaches extreme presumption and assurance rather than doubt, again this is the result of simil eustis et peccator combined with Total Depravity and a dash of Limited Atonement.
      As a former Calvinist, let me tell you that the “L” of Tulip is the worst heresy of the Calvinist, not despair or presumption (imo).

      Peace,

      David

  3. I have a question for you Mr. Rose in reference to this statement.
    Westminster Confession of Faith:
    Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

    Is this statement excluding every single work that I can offer? For example, the act of believing? If it is, where does my free will come into play.

    1. Nelson,
      Then it’s not a gift anymore. It’s free…totally, completely, it doesn’t depend on you. If you ignore the gift and make no use of it, it is still a gift given to you.

  4. Im not disagreeing that faith is free. I have to do something to receive this free give. The statement says “not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them”. I have to believe to have faith right? I can’t just faith.

  5. If you give me a gift for Christmas, and I leave it under the tree and never use it, did you NOT give me a gift?

    I’m sure that you did. If I do nothing with it, it does not negate the gift. But it does render the benefits of the gift, pretty much useless.

  6. When Jesus had his talk with Nicodemus, he didn’t tell Nicodemus what he had to do. he told him that he has to be born again and that he cannot do this…it has to come from above.

    And when Jesus said to Simon Peter, “blessed are you, because flesh and blood have not revealed this to you (that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God), but my Father in Heaven.

    In the Gospel of John, it says that “…we are not born of the will of man…but of God.”

    And Jesus reminds the disciples that “he chose them, they didn’t choose him”.

    Also in John (I believe), Jesus tells them “that no man CAN come to me, except that he be drawn (compelled) by the Father.

    Any, there are more…but you get the picture.

  7. Glad people are enjoying the article.

    p.s. I didn’t see this post or the newest one today pop up on my RSS feed, so I didn’t know there was new stuff and had to re-enroll in Google Reader.

  8. Randy,

    I believe that there is no doubt about an imputed righteousness. This I get from the many passages of Scripture that say it is, and also by doing theology.

    There would have been no need for Christ to come and die on the cross and declare His forgiveness for us, if there was anything at all that we need to muster up in ourselves. The cross is not necessary for that.

    1. Steve,

      What are a few of the most important passages you look to for coming to your conclusion on imputed righteousness?

      1. Nick,

        Ephesians 2:8,9
        “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift og God- not because of works lest anyone should boast.

        Romans 3:28
        “We hold that a person is justified by faith, apart from works of the law.”

        Romans 4:4,5
        “Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoneed as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”

        Romans 5:1
        “Therefore, since we are jstified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord jesus Christ.”

        ____

        There are many more, but they are along those same lines.

        Here’s another (very short – 13 min.) audio from a class by my pastor about a week ago:

        http://theoldadam.com/2012/06/14/starting-off-on-the-wrong-foot-in-the-christian-life/

        I think it’s helpful in understanding our position better. Even if you don’t happen to agree with everything said.

        Thanks.

        1. Steve,
          If Nick doesn’t mind I would like to explain some fundamentals first. By this time I hope you have already read Devin’s book “If Protestentism is True”. There are many historical statements that cannot be ignored. One would be that for fifteen hundred years the Church has always taught that our salvation (justification) is based on faith and works. Let me show you what the catechism says about faith. CCC161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation.42 “Since “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘But he who endures to the end.'” Take a look at this statement from The Council of Trent: “We are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God . . . We are therefore said to be justified gratuitously [that is, not by works], because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. “If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.” So I believe that it is necessary to have faith but notice that it does not state that faith alone is all you need.
          Then, Martin Luther finally got it right in the fifteen hundreds. The fact is that nowhere in the bible will you find at we are justified by faith alone. I do agree 100% with all the bible scripture you have quoted but there is more. For example, Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;g it is not from works, so no one may boast.h Don’t forget verse 10 “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” See how faith and works come together. We both know that scripture does not contradict itself. As a matter of fact we can use scripture to support scripture. I want to show you how scripture supports this doctrine about faith and works.
          Rom 3:28 For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law., James 2V20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?(faith and works) Rom 10:9-10 “for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved,” Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.n (faith and works) Act 16:30-31Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.” Mat 19:16-17 h Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”* 17He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.* If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (faith and works) John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.k, Heb 12:14 h Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.(faith and works) 1 john 5:13 I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God. Phil 2:12-13 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.* 13For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work (faith and works)
          Let me end with one more bible scripture explaining our judgment day. ( Mathew 25:31-46) I have more scripture to share but I hope you get the idea. Im pretty sure Nick has a better answer than this one :) May the Lord be with you!

        2. Hello Steve,

          You mentioned 4 passages, only one of them mentions reckoning righteousness. For the Bible to speak of faith saving/justifying does not -by itself- necessitate any kind of imputation. Consider these passages:

          (i) Acts 15:9,11 parallels “cleansed their heart by faith” to “saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.”

          (ii) Ephesians 2:5,8 says “when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” and defines this as “by grace you have been saved”

          (iii) Philippians 3:3, 9-11 says the “the righteousness from God that depends on faith” is to be understood as “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”

          (iv) Acts 26:17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

          Each of these texts show Faith saving, but not by an imputation, but rather by an inner transformation.

          I listened to that lecture by your pastor, but I didn’t hear any kind of exegesis. And he didn’t go over Imputation either. Would you mind asking your pastor to read this article? I think he’ll be knocked off his socks.

    2. I actually wanted to know what you think about logizomai specifically. Do you think Nick has it right? If not, why not?

  9. Couldn’t the term “logizomai” or “chashab” be used to describe that which happens in the Sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation? For example, you say:

    Romans 4:8 – sin is not reckoned to David since his sins are forgiven (Ps 32:1)

    2 Samuel 19:19 – Shimei asks King David not to reckon him guilty, to forgive him

    Psalm 32:2 gives an important insight on what it means to “not impute sin” to someone (see also Romans 4:8 comment below). This Psalm was written by David, repenting after he sinned gravely and lost his justification. Even Luther recognized this (see Smalcald Articles #43). The “blessed man” (i.e. justified) of verse 1 is he who has his “sins forgiven,” and “in who’s spirit there is no deceit”. He is the one who did not hide his sin but confessed it to God (verse 5), after which he became “righteous” and “upright in heart” (verse 11). The parallel prayer to this is David in Psalm 51, where he is just as explicit on what happens at forgiveness, namely the sinner is “washed,” “cleansed,” “purged,” resulting in a man “whiter than snow” and having “a clean heart”. With all this going on, how can there be sin to reckon? There cannot be! Thus to “not impute sin” is synonymous to saying “forgive,” that is “make my slate clean so there is no sin there to reckon”. This is the principle in which we are to interpret texts like 2 Samuel 19:19, 2 Corinthians 5:19 and 2 Timothy 4:19 (Cf Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).

    Therefore, can we not say that the Pauline teaching of Romans 4 is essentially a Sacramental teaching?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  10. That is one gloomy, unjoyful bunch of “christians” depicted in that stone carving! Who the heck would want to join them?!?!

    1. I went from Pentecostal to Calvinist years back. I made the switch for the same reason I became Catholic recently, because I found more truth there than where I was. Say what you will about him, but Calvin did at least try to sort through what are some very important questions which Evangelicals dont even touch.

  11. Holy goodness, I had to read through this entire entry three times. I don’t think I even thought about 3/4ths of this post – ever. Food for thought. I feel like I’ll probably have to drop by to read it again tomorrow. Ha ha ha!

    Also, I’m interested to hear your response to De Maria, too. Then again, maybe that’s just my confusion looking to be satiated… 😉

    Very informative post, Devin!

    1. Hello Broken Fiat (I hope it gets fixed soon),

      Your response is actually the ‘correct’ one, if there can be such a thing. This subject does require at least reading through the first half at least 2-3 times for it to ‘sink in’. But once it sinks in, then you’re a totally renewed person since it all makes perfect sense.

      Also, what De Maria said seems perfectly Biblical.

      1. Ha ha – thanks, Nick. As promised, I came back AGAIN today to attempt wading through it. So much info!!! I feel like I tried to take a drink out of a fire hydrant.

        My handle is a play on Our Lady’s “Fiat” at the Annunciation. Hers was perfect… mine? Not so much. *Grin*

  12. Could we delve more into the false idea that faith is “an empty hand”? Rather, doesn’t faith justify precisely because it is an act of the intellect moved by the will. The will is moved by love of some good in this case God Himself. To believe in a doctrine, let’s say the Trinity for instance, is not an intellectuall judgement such as affirming that 2+2=4. Even if believing the doctrine of the Trinity is coherent, we must still will to embrace it and all that it entails in our lives. Of course, sin can cause the loss of charity and then the remaining faith is dead but in the initial coming to believe, love of God is operative. The “empty hand” or ” nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling” is not only unbiblical but illogical. Feedback please.

    1. Hello Jim,

      I’d say you answered just how any informed Catholic should answer. The empty hand motif is unbiblical and illogical. It’s an example of justifying a doctrine after the fact rather than justifying it beforehand. One fundamental error in Protestantism is that they begin their whole theological careers by first assuming Justification by Faith Alone is true, and from that point on they go onto affirm whatever needs to be affirmed to preserve Sola Fide. So in the empty hand example, they’re simply affirming that because they’re already dedicated to Sola Fide; they didn’t arrive at empty hand by any kind of exegesis.

    2. For what its worth, Deut 16:16 says:

      New International Version (NIV)
      16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed:

      In my opinion, this foreshadows the Judgement.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  13. I am read up to John Owen and Turretin so far, both bringing the Philemon text into their ridiculous examination of Logizomai. Nick, this is brilliant stuff! Really thourough and good job bro. For those two Reformed giants to make such an absolutely 100% stupid blunder of exegesis on such a crucial point is infuriating and sadening at the same time.
    I cant wait to read the rest.

  14. The Bible Gateway tags that you intended in part II are not working I believe. I’m still reading your document as it stands, so I’ll keep on reading :-).

  15. The article may appear long but the arguments are not. In fact, reading from the article I don’t see why the arguments has not been answered already.

    1. The Bible never uses the term logizomai (or any similar term) in regards to the three-fold imputation of Adam’s sin to mankind, our sin to Christ, or Christ’s Righteousness to the believer.

    Answer: The theological term “Imputation” is a concept not a word. That has been stressed by the Reformed scholars. It may be conveyed in different verbs when discussing the concept. Prominently, logizomai in several passages in the Scripture.

    2. The term logizomai never means “to transfer” or anything similar. Nor does the term ever get used in an ‘instrumental sense’, that is, with something like faith being an ‘empty hand’ (i.e. no inherent value) that simply ‘reaches out’ and ‘carries’ something of value from one place to another.

    Answer: No one has asserted that the word “logizomai” means “to transfer”. However, the theological concept of Imputation implies the metaphorical transfer of the righteousness or guilt given the thelogical imports of union with the first and second Adam as the federal head of mankind. I say metaphorical because the object of “transfering” being discussed is not physical or material. We don’t get to see guilt or righteousness floating around transferring from one person to another. It is metaphorical in the sense that “to transfer” is only imagined in the mind just like judging or calculating.

    The author has to understand one point. Theological concepts is not equivalent to a single word semantic range. The word logizomai as used in Romans 4 provides for support to conceptual framework for the theological concept of Imputation. The word in itself used in such a passage is not the whole of the doctrine of Imputation as other passages conveying the concept using different verbs and illustrations (not just logizomai) are used to prove that the concept exist.

    Since the author appears to be knowledgeable in doing word-studies, I would take him to task with regards to Romans 4 and how this passage lends support to the concept of Imputation. This will involves the sematic range of the word and the context in which it is used in Romans 4. Then how this provides for support on the concept of Imputation as theologically defined by Reformed people. I will be posting these responses in the combox.

    With regards to patristic studies, I will not touch this matter since I am not trained in this area. But, I may perhaps offer some thoughts.

    Regards,
    Joey

  16. Hello Joey,

    Here are my thoughts:

    (1) You said:
    “The theological term “Imputation” is a concept not a word. That has been stressed by the Reformed scholars. It may be conveyed in different verbs when discussing the concept. Prominently, logizomai in several passages in the Scripture.”

    It is a concept that is heavily (if not exclusively) reliant upon logizomai. Without logizomai, or more specifically without serious abuses of the term by Protestant scholarship, the case for Imputation couldn’t be made in the first place. The OPC, in the quote I provided to start this, says plainly:
    “We need to be reckoned or accounted (logizomai) as righteous in God’s sight and imputation is the way that we understand the Scriptures to speak of that transfer of righteousness.”

    You cannot deny that of the numerous Protestant scholars I’ve quoted that their “analysis” of logizomai is disturbingly and embarrassingly deficient and often ‘rigged’ in a sense. The proof is in the pudding: this is precisely why of such a crucial word there is almost no open, honest, and broad analysis of logizomai in any of their works.

    You said:
    “No one has asserted that the word “logizomai” means “to transfer”.”

    Actually, yes they have. I have quoted enough Protestant scholars in this very paper that say that.

    You said:
    “However, the theological concept of Imputation implies the metaphorical transfer of the righteousness or guilt given the thelogical imports of union with the first and second Adam as the federal head of mankind.”

    Which is effectively conceding what I’ve been saying. Now the question is, you need to supply the VERSES that demonstrate this doctrine. And that’s where the rubber meets the road, as you will inevitably have to address logizomai in Romans 4. This is also why the Confessions and Reformers appealed principally to texts like Romans 4.

    You said:
    “The author has to understand one point. Theological concepts is not equivalent to a single word semantic range.”

    In this case, the theological concept is directly tied to logizomai. Any attempts to dodge logizomai destroys Sola Scriptura and Perspicuity, for at that point you have this grand doctrine that isn’t really plainly taught in Scripture at all but rather needs all these different pieces put together.

    You said:
    “The word logizomai as used in Romans 4 provides for support to conceptual framework for the theological concept of Imputation.”

    Here is where the rubber meets the road. Provide the argument. I’ve shown both the semantic range and the very context go directly against the Protestant idea. If you can make such a case, please do. I’ve already shown that history has definitively confirmed how the great minds of Protestantism have to mangle logizomai when approaching Rom 4.

    You said:
    “The word in itself used in such a passage is not the whole of the doctrine of Imputation as other passages conveying the concept using different verbs and illustrations (not just logizomai) are used to prove that the concept exist.”

    Please make the case then. And then explain how your case aligns with the Protestant dogma of Perspicuity.

    You said:
    “Since the author appears to be knowledgeable in doing word-studies, I would take him to task with regards to Romans 4 and how this passage lends support to the concept of Imputation.”

    I would love to hear your case.

  17. This where I have to weigh whether the author is interested in knowing facts because the sense that I am getting at my first reply is largely ignored. I have put forward the fact that theological concepts are not the same as the semantic range of meaning of a single word. It seems that the author will disregard this. He claims that scholars have asserted that the word logizomai carries a meaning of ‘to transfer’. I would like to ask for documentation on this one from his quotes above. He provided one from a position paper of OPC. My first impression is thag the author did not read the quote. Thus, I would like to know whether the author can distinguish when scholars speak of the concept or the semantic range of the word. Futher, I also sense that the author has a faulty view on the perspecuity of scripture. But, I will respond in time…

  18. Joey,

    Please proceed with your response when you get the chance. I’m sure others are as eager to see your case as I am.

  19. I have already explained in my first post that theological concepts are not the same as the syntax of single word prominently associated with the concept. The author claims that in analyzing the truthfulness of the theological concept of Imputation, it will solely depend on the range of meaning of single word, i.e. logizomai. If the author has really read the responses of pro-imputation reformed scholars (as there are other reformed scholars who propose other concepts in place of Imputation) over the critics of the theological concept of Imputation, I am wondering why he did not get the point.

    Let me give an example of how this works. If one would define the theological concept of WORSHIP, the definition would largely be different from the range of meaning of the word proskuneo. In other words, WORSHIP as defined as a theological concept goes beyond the range of meaning of proskuneo even though it is the verb most prominently used when it comes to a robust definition of WORSHIP as a concept.

    This is the same situation when reformed Christians speak of the theological concept of Imputation. Though the prominent verb is logizomai, the concept itself is seen in different situations using different verbs and illustrations. When we speak of Imputation as a theological concept we are not constrained to the range of meaning of the word logizomai as there are other pictures using different verbs to convey the concept. However, the verb(s) can help to explain the concept and provide for the boundaries of definition because theological concepts are conclusions or summaries of different passages related to a certain teaching. This is the work of systematic theologians which is very different from the work of biblical theologians.

    To proceed, let me provide for the definition of the concept of Imputation and explain how this is derived from the biblical data. I will limit my discussion on the Imputation of Righteousness. I will not be exhaustive in the treatment as this will take volumes.
    However, I will provide a succinct discussion.

    Definition of the concept:

    By His grace alone, we are united with Christ which is the ground of our free justification through the instrumentality of faith apart from works whereby God forgives us and treats us as guiltless (though we have transgressed the Law of God failing to fulfill its demand thereby condemning us) by conferring to us a righteousness that is not our own but Christ’s who loves us and willingly became for us as our substitute removing the curse of the Law that is for us by suffering the penalty of our sin and accomplishing the righteous demand of the Law perfectly fulfilling it in our behalf.

    Next post will be an exploration of the biblical data in support of this theological concept. Then we’ll study the word logizomai and how it is contextually defined in Romans 4.

  20. My greatest joy is to recount the Gospel and share it to everyone. Perhaps someday, readers of this blog will find not an institution to belong to but a person to belong to. So that someday even when we do not see eye to eye, readers would write stories about real conversion — not to a church or denomination but to Jesus Christ. I am engaging this article with this goal in mind.

    Explanation of the Concept (Part I):

    (1) As in every theological concept that touches on soteriology, His glory alone should be the start, the middle and the end of it. The concept is not merely an activity centred towards the benefit of fallen man. It is rather rooted upon what God has done for Himself – that is to glorify Himself seen in the great drama of the Son and the Father glorifying each other in the pursuit to redeem the fallen adamic race (Jn 13:31-32). It is the drama of the Creator loving His creatures – a love so unconditional that even before the world began He has thought of it (Eph 1:4). The concept therefore seeks to glorify God by displaying the depth of His grace towards a creation that abandoned Him and glorified themselves (Rom 1:21).
    (2) The concept cannot be understood unless one understands the mystical union of Christ and the redeemed. There is a union that existed from the beginning in which posterity of the first Adam are united with him. Such that Paul can say that “by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one” (Rom 5:17). However, a stronger bond has been forged from eternity past between the second Adam and His posterity (those born from above). The many instances in which the Scripture conveys that we are “in Him” (i.e. in Christ, see especially Eph 1) connotes a bond that is beyond our minds to grasp. Such that Paul can say that “through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” (Rom 5:17). The Scripture can therefore speak of this concept in terms where what Christ accomplished the redeemed accomplished. This will be made clearer as we survey the concept.
    (3) The concept cannot be understood unless justification is understood. Note that we have been declared guilty (specifically we have transgressed the Law (Rom 3:19)) therefore possessing no righteousness (Rom 3) and incurring upon us the penalty of that declaration which is death (Rom 6:23). How can God therefore reverse this declaration? How can he declare righteous the one who has been found and declared unrighteous? How can He not execute the punishment that is due us who has been found wicked? This is humanly impossible as human judges are commanded by God to “justify the righteous and condemn the wicked” (Deut 25:1). Even if the human judge show pity to the criminal, still the declaration must remain true. Without a basis, there is nothing that could reverse the crime that has been done and that the criminal must face the verdict and suffer the consequence. Note that we have been condemned as we have been found wicked and a reversal of that judgment is impossible. If God would justify us without basis, it would be tantamount to “justifying the wicked”. But the wonder of God’s grace (for the glory of His name) is that He “justifies the wicked” (Rom 4:5). It is a phrase that is downright blasphemous for God is a holy and just. But, if He did so, how can God defend Himself that He is just in doing so? On what basis can He reverse the verdict? This is where the concept of Imputation of Righteousness begins to surface; and to know the extent of what the triune God has done to make justification possible will move every Christian in worship and unending thanks to the God who “justifies the wicked” who has no righteousness on his own but finds it in Jesus Christ alone.

    To be continued…

  21. Joey,
    Your last post is just begging the question. You are assuming your definition of imputation from the start, not showing it. Nick did a thorough job of showing his points in the article, and I don’t think he assumed his point in his premises as I think you have done here.
    Honestly much of it (particularly #1) is a bit patronizing as well… as if others don’t have God’s glory as the goal. All Christians subscribe to Soli Deo Gloria. Catholics believe it too, so i’m not sure where that gets us in this conversation to bring it up as a premise for your argument. But I will set that aside.

    Your #3 is what I want to point out.

    “The concept cannot be understood unless justification is understood. Note that we have been declared guilty (specifically we have transgressed the Law (Rom 3:19)) therefore possessing no righteousness (Rom 3) and incurring upon us the penalty of that declaration which is death (Rom 6:23).”

    The first sentence begs the question. You say we need to understand justification to understand imputation, yet justification is exactly what is in question here. You cant “need to understand X in order to understand X”. That is circular.

    Then you say we have “been declared guilty”. Quite true. And we are guilty, so the declaration is simply stating what is objectively true, correct?

    This is the only question I have for you, so I will repeat it:

    Is God’s declaration of guilt pointing out something inherent in us? In other words, is that declaration “calling it as we are”? When God sees us, is He actually seeing us how we are, i.e. guilty?

    Thanks for your answer.

    Assuming your answer is yes, that God does declare us guilty based on real sin and guilt inherent within us, then can you see how we might think the same thing happens with His declaration of righteousness? Why would anything be different there? If God declares us righteous, then we are righteous. Why would the same term all of a sudden mean something different- as in Simul Iustus et Peccator– that God is merely calling us righteous while we remain a sinner?
    Sorry but that sure seems to make God a liar. If he calls us righteous then we are… righteous. Period. He is not playing games. Of course we shouldnt jump to conclusions on how we got to be righteous though. Of course it is not us that made that happen but Christ going before us making it possible. Without Him we can do absolutely nothing. And of course we won’t even hear that declaration until judgment day. But if I do hear God judging me righteous on that day, my first reaction will be to fall on my knees and worship God, giving Him all the glory for making it happen.

    I was a Reformed Protestant who understood imputation, and understood the “Romans road” Gospel you have presented. Not tooting my own horn, but I just want to let you know that “I get it”. I understand the Protestant Gospel, and I understand why it is important to Protestants, and particularly for Calvinists, to understand it in terms of imputation. But I just want to say that often the Prot. unsderstanding is in terms of a “zero sum game”, where if I am actually declared righteous, then somehow God loses glory. But Catholics don’t see it that way at all. We see that it can bring glory to God all the more for His creatures to be righteous.
    Having inherent righteousness simply does not necesitate that God loses any glory as long as God is the one making the righteousnes possible… which of course must be the case! Pelagianism was condemned as heresy by the Catholic Church remember.

    peace,

    David Meyer

  22. Hi again,

    I have found, in most cases, when Protestants contradict Catholic doctrine, they are wrong, but not entirely. What I mean to say is that the Catholic Church is always right, Catholic doctrine contains no error. But, at the same time, Protestant doctrine contains a grain of truth. Just as an example. Faith alone is dead. But faith is necessary for justification. Faith, in this case, is the grain of truth in the Protestant doctrine. They have simply left out the works necessary to prove that faith (James 2:14).

    In this case, although Scripture never expressly states that “transference of righteousness occurs from Christ to the believer”. However, it is clear that there is some sort of transference going on. Scripture says:
    Romans 5:
    19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

    This is not an “empty handed” transference however. As Romans 2:13 says:
    (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    So that shows that righteousness is “credited”. And is there any difference between “credited” and “merited”? Those who do the law, have “merited” justification.

    This idea is very Sacramental because, as any Catholic knows, we present ourselves to receive the Eucharist (and thus eternal life) only in a proper attitude and disposition of faith and in a state of grace.

    Any thoughts?

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  23. David Meyer,

    I started with an explanation of the concept with the intent that Christians who criticize it will know the perspective (where we are coming from) of the concept. As per my experience, knowing the intent of the concept is half of winning the heart of the readers. I hope to convey that there’s no dubious plot to circumvent truths for the sake of holding on to a teaching. And, there’s no assumption here that other positions intentionally does not seek to glorify God.

    As to your concern, it is true that ultiamtely justification is what is in question here. Yet, if justification is via “logizomai” as per the biblical language then there’s something not right in saying that the basis of justification is the “transformation of the wicked” where one is inherently changed from being wicked to righteous via the merits of good works or virtues (under grace; measured on man’s volition and centred on the sacraments provided by the Roman Catholic Church). I hope to explain this later based on the semantic range of the “justification” and “logizomai”.

    The point of number three is simple and I guess you understand most of it. We are guilty and therefore we are declared as such. If we are guilty, how can that verdict be reversed? I believe there is a biblical narrative on how to answer that question. I hope to point out that God did not “justify (declares righteous) the inherently righteous” as your argument would demand. The Scripture said, He “declares righteous the wicked” (Rom 4:5). How can this be without God incurring upon himself injustice? What is the basis? What is the biblical answer to this? I will show this later.

    I am not opposed to an “inherent change/inherent righteousnes” that would inhere to those who are saved. Those who are His are (will be) changed and our lives will reflect that of our Lord as we grow in Christ. Protestants call this “sanctification”. But as much as we embrace the “inherent righteousness” (by God’s grace) which we will possess as the Lord molds us to be more like Him, we also embrace the glorious truth that this is not the “righteousness” that acquitted us before His tribunal. Later I will make this clearer as I move to the points.

    I realize that I cannot escape the possibility that our differing opinions will attract anger. I apologize if I have said something that are not as tactful as I want them to be. I just want you to know that I am so amazed at the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the way reformed theology articulated it in this concept of imputation (as well as adoption and sanctification). It really drove me on my knees in thanks to my Savior for 16 years now. The joy and security that I’ve found in Christ, I want to share with the readers. So, I guess I have to continue the posts above… feel free to criticize them later.

    God bless,
    Joey

    1. Joey Henry says:

      I started with an explanation of the concept with the intent that Christians who criticize it will know the perspective (where we are coming from) of the concept. As per my experience, knowing the intent of the concept is half of winning the heart of the readers. ….

      Would you, as directly as possible, reiterate the concept which you are talking about?

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  24. David,

    I may have forgotten to answer the question. Forgive my haste. But here is the question:

    Question1 : And we are guilty, so the declaration is simply stating what is objectively true, correct?

    Answer: Correct. The parallel would be the same. Objectivity is a matter of perspective. Imputation is not “subjective” to the point of deception. The facts being declared are objective, namely: “Because of your union with Christ and because He took your place accomplishing what you could not, therefore Christ is your righteousness though you have transgressed the Law (and continue to do so in this life).” Those are objective truths because you really are united with Christ and Christ really accomplished what is rightly your obligation and punishment at calvary (because of His love and mercy to you). I’ll explain this fully in the next posts.

    Question 2: Is God’s declaration of guilt pointing out something inherent in us? In other words, is that declaration “calling it as we are”? When God sees us, is He actually seeing us how we are, i.e. guilty?

    Answer: Yes. Please see above answer. I guess the next question is: If it is the case, then when He declares us righteous, is the righteousness that can reverse the verdict is ours inherently? The answer is “No”. How can it be inherent when we have been found guilty? The righteousness that justifies the wicked belongs to our Savior… He is the one who “did not know sin who became sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (note that the righteousness belongs to God with the participle “of” (i.e. of God) and that it is located “in” (another participle) Christ)” (2 Cor 5:21). It was Jesus’ all along. As the scripture says, “Christ is our Righteousness” (1 Cor 1:30) and that our “righteousness is not our own” (Phil 3:9). More to this in the next posts.

    Regards,
    Joey

  25. Joey,
    No worries about any anger or anything. We are cool bro. Just talking.
    You said:
    “Objectivity is a matter of perspective.”

    I must say, this struck me as an oxymoron. Almost like “married bachelor”.

    Along with that you said:
    “Imputation is not “subjective” to the point of deception. ”

    This strikes me as the “no true Scotsman” falacy. As if you are saying imputation is “sort of” subjective, or that though subjective it at the same time is not deceptive.
    The point is, that when God points at us and calls us righteous, we are either righteous or not. Period. This is a very simple question with a simple answer.
    In your view, what God is saying is not strickly true. That is, He is calling us righteous, when we are actually not. Are you saying that in this way God is being subjective, but not to the point of deception? Or perhaps in His declaration he is being objective about Christ, yet subjective about the one being saved?
    Either way, the situation is that the person is actually still a sinner, and in some sense, God is declaring something to be true that really is true from only a certain point of view. From another point of view, namely ours, the person is a sinner. This strikes me as a big problem.

    From your comments:

    “I am not opposed to an “inherent change/inherent righteousnes” that would inhere to those who are saved. Those who are His are (will be) changed and our lives will reflect that of our Lord as we grow in Christ.”

    But then you said:

    “when He declares us righteous, is the righteousness that can reverse the verdict is ours inherently? The answer is “No”. ”

    Yes, I get that this is the distinction within the Reformed conceptions of sanctification/Justification… meaning S as something seperate and taking place after J. What I want us to keep in mind here as I try to express myself is the fact that you accept it as possible that we can become inherently righteous. From what I gather here, in your view, it can happen. So you agree with Catholics on this point that we can have righteousness inhere in us, and I would argue that the way you would describe this sanctification happening, is the exact way we would describe it, except that we would put it within/part of justification.

    All that to say, that I think it might help you understand the Catholic conception of salvation to use your Reformed understanding of sanctification… which of course is a work of God. And on that we agree. Now if you agree that God can do that work in us, then what is the problem with putting that act of God as part of salvation/justification?

    Beyond that question, and more targeted on this article on imputation, is the question of why imputation needs to be seen in the Protestant way if God can do that work in us. If God is doing a work in us, as in the Catholic sense of a mixed justification/Sanctification, where we are declared righteous because we are righteous, then how does that lessen God’s grace in any way? Or how is the Reformed conception of imputation bringing God more glory? If as you say, God can make us inherently righteous, so that we actually are righteous, then what does it matter if that takes place as part of justification or after justification? Either way it is 100% a work of God and He is glorified.

    1. Joey,

      David said,
      I must say, this struck me as an oxymoron. Almost like “married bachelor”.

      This is the same problem I’ve been having with all of your posts. Let me just take an example from the very first comment you made here. You said:

      Answer: The theological term “Imputation” is a concept not a word.

      1. Not a word? If its in the dictionary, its a word, right?
      2. As far as I know, every word known to man represents an concept (i.e. an idea).
      3. So it seems illogical to deny that “imputation” is a word. And redundant to say that this particular word is also a concept.
      4. I welcome anyone to correct me if I’m wrong.

      That has been stressed by the Reformed scholars.

      What has?

      It may be conveyed in different verbs when discussing the concept. Prominently, logizomai in several passages in the Scripture.

      Isn’t this what Nick said? You have confirmed his argument. Nick didn’t say that logizomai wasn’t used to express the concept of imputation. His whole point, as I understand it, is that neither logizomai nor imputation are used in Scripture to express an idea or concept of “transference” of righteousness for a simple claim of faith alone. Those words have only been used to express a “crediting” or “meriting” or “reckoning” or “recognizing” of someone’s true state of being.

      Again, I welcome that anyone should correct me if I’ve misunderstood what either Nick or Joey are saying.

      Anyway, since no one else seemed to have trouble with your comments, I kept silence, thinking maybe something was going over my head. But then David said what I was thinking.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    2. David,

      Sorry for this late response. As to your comments:

      1. I must say, this struck me as an oxymoron. Almost like “married bachelor”.

      Comment: I’ll explain what I meant later when I discuss “logizomai”. But, a preview “objectivity” is a matter of perspective in the sense that you have to take to see the whole picture not just part of the picture. Perspective wise, if you are going to look at only the conclusion such as God justifies the wicked, then you will have thought of this as being subjective. But if you widen your perspective and take note of the premises where God sent the Son for the wicked so that what the wicked can’t do the Son did and on that basis justifies the wicked, that is objective judgment. God didn’t just justify the wicked on arbitrary grounds but on objective grounds. If the premises are objectively true and accepted by the judge as true then the conclusion is beyond question.

      2. Beyond that question, and more targeted on this article on imputation, is the question of why imputation needs to be seen in the Protestant way if God can do that work in us.

      Comment: You’ll have to read the continuation below.

      Regards,
      Joey

  26. Continuation:

    (4) The concept cannot be understood without understanding the demand of the Law toward us. The Law is God’s expression of His righteousness and holiness such that “the Law is holy, righteous and good” (Rom 7:12; “The Law of the Lord is perfect” (Ps 19:7)). The promise of the Law is righteousness: “If we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (Deut 6:25). It is called the “Law of Righteousness” (Rom 9:31). The Scripture affirms that “those who obey the Law will be declared righteous” (Rom 2:13). Further, “The man who does these things will live by them” (Rom 10:5; Lev 18:5). The Law was “intended to bring life” (Rom 7:10) if obeyed in its entirety.

    (5) The concept cannot be understood without understanding sin. If the Law is the reflection of God’s righteousness, sin or unrighteousness (wickedness) is the transgression of the Law. Thus, if the Law is broken the man will reap “unrighteousness” and that “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26). “Every mouth maybe silenced and the world held accountable to God” (Rom 3:20) under the Law. The conclusion therefore of Scripture is this, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact sin is lawlessness” (John 3:4). The demand of the Law is perfect obedience because “whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (Jam 2:8). Thus, Paul made it clear that “Jews and are Gentiles are all under sin” (Rom 3: 9). In other words, all human beings have been measured through the Law (Rom 3:20 i.e. “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin”) but all have transgressed the Law (Rom 3:19). Thus, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10).

    Regards,
    Joey

    1. Hi Joey,

      You said:
      Continuation:

      (4) The concept cannot be understood without understanding the demand of the Law toward us.

      Ok.

      The Law is God’s expression of His righteousness and holiness such that “the Law is holy, righteous and good” (Rom 7:12; “The Law of the Lord is perfect” (Ps 19:7)). The promise of the Law is righteousness: “If we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (Deut 6:25). It is called the “Law of Righteousness” (Rom 9:31). The Scripture affirms that “those who obey the Law will be declared righteous” (Rom 2:13). Further, “The man who does these things will live by them” (Rom 10:5; Lev 18:5). The Law was “intended to bring life” (Rom 7:10)

      All that is true. And all that confirms what Nick said.

      if obeyed in its entirety.

      It seems to me, that Protestants make a whole new gospel out of these 5 little words. Have you read in Scripture?
      1 John 1:9
      King James Version (KJV)
      9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      Therefore, if we do not obey the law in its entirety, but repent and confess our sins, we will be forgiven.

      Therefore also, if we do not obey the law in its entirety and obstinately continue in our disobedience, without repentance, we will be condemned.

      Revelation 22:12-15
      King James Version (KJV)
      12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

      13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

      14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

      15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

      (5) The concept cannot be understood without understanding sin. If the Law is the reflection of God’s righteousness, sin or unrighteousness (wickedness) is the transgression of the Law.

      Absolutely!

      Thus, if the Law is broken the man will reap “unrighteousness” and that “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26).

      Still true. Remember that the righteous man fall seven times AND GETS UP!
      Proverbs 24:16
      King James Version (KJV)
      16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

      That means that the righteous man will repent and ask forgiveness for his sins and be forgiven. The wicked man will continue in his sins.

      “Every mouth maybe silenced and the world held accountable to God” (Rom 3:20) under the Law. The conclusion therefore of Scripture is this, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact sin is lawlessness” (John 3:4).

      True.

      The demand of the Law is perfect obedience because “whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (Jam 2:8).

      Wrong. The GOAL of the law is perfection of the man of God:
      Matt 5:
      48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

      But God knows that we are not perfect and has thus provided for us a way out:
      Ezekiel 18:21
      King James Version (KJV)
      21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

      All we need do is repent of our sins and God will forgive us.

      Thus, Paul made it clear that “Jews and are Gentiles are all under sin” (Rom 3: 9). In other words, all human beings have been measured through the Law (Rom 3:20 i.e. “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin”) but all have transgressed the Law (Rom 3:19). Thus, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10).

      That verse is taken out of context. Obviously, there are many who are righteous. St. Paul is referring to the unfaithful and unbelieving people. The are not righteous. But Scripture refers to many who are righteous. Just one example:
      Luke 1:6
      King James Version (KJV)
      6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

      Therefore, unless you make Scripture contradict itself, St. Paul is speaking about the wicked people who do not believe in God and disobey His Commandments willfully.

      Regards,
      Joey

      And to you,

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  27. Hello Joey,

    I’ve been a bit busy so I’ve not been able to read your Part 2/3 post and the other yet, but I’ll also hold off until you’re done with Part 3/3 where you said you were going to address logizomai and Romans 4.

  28. Continuation in the explanation of the concept:

    (6) In order for one to be in the right, the demand of the Law must be upheld both on in its obligatory and punitive nature. It is in this background that the redemptive work of Christ includes fulfilling the demand of the Law in behalf of the wicked (i.e. the lawbreaker). This can be seen in Gal 3:10-14. Without being technical in the exegesis of this passage, the point is simple. The “curse” that the sons of Adam incurred includes the obligatory nature of the Law – i.e. it demands perfect obedience. “Curse is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law” (Gal 3:10). Christ, however, “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). The logic of Scripture can be seen. God sent Christ “born under the Law” (Gal 4:4) that he might take upon himself the “curse” of the Law. That means Christ ran the race “for us” by fulfilling its righteous demand in both its obligatory power and consequence. The phrase “for us” (Gal 4:4) strongly suggests the substitutionary nature of the act. In Peter’s words: “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Pet 3:8). Paul further explained that “there is now no condemnation” (Rom 8:1) because “God achieved what the law failed to do for it was weakened through the flesh” (Rom 8:3a) How did God do this? “By sending his own Son in flesh like ours under sins domain [note the subtitutionary nature of this act]… so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us” (Rom 8:4b). The same picture is laid out when he said, “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). This is also portrayed when he says, “through one righteous act there is life-giving righteousness” (Rom 5:18) and that “through one man’s obedience the many are constituted righteous” (Rom 5:19). That is the reason why Paul locates his righteousness “in Him” and that this “righteousness is not his own” (Phil 3:9) because it was Christ who fulfilled what he could not do in his behalf. He believes in Christ and puts his trust alone in Christ and not in his own righteousness (cp Titus 3:5 “not by works of righteousness that we had done”). For Paul, Christ is his righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).
    (7) With this background in mind, let us go back to the questions asked in number 3. How can God be just and yet He “declares righteous the wicked” (Rom 4:5)? The biblical narrative has been clearly laid out. The basis of that act of justification is totally found outside of the wicked. This is so because we have broken the Law (and in union of Adam’s transgression (1 Cor 15:22; Rom 5:12) and there is no chance in this life to obey it perfectly since all humanity had already failed to keep the Law. We were judged unrighteous, i.e. lawbreakers. And now Paul answers our question – how then can God declares righteous the wicked? (Rom 4:5)
    a. “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed–namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.” (Rom 3:21-22). The Law could not justify because no human can perfectly keep it (Rom 7:10; Rom 8:3). But a righteousness can be possessed by the fallen adamic race “apart from the law”. The Scripture says it is a righteousness that comes from God and belongs to God (literally: “righteousness from/of God”). This righteousness is revealed through the “faithfulness of Jesus Christ” (this rendering takes on the subjective genitive). This righteousness is appropriated “for all who believe”. The basis of why God can declare the wicked “righteous” has always been “alien” to the sinner – i.e. outside of the sinner. The basis is found in Christ alone and righteousness can be gained by putting our trust not in our own accomplishment but in Christ’s finished accomplishment.
    b. This is the same truth that is portrayed in Gal 3:21-22: “Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given–because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ–to those who believe.” Righteousness would have certainly come by the Law if kept entirely but we have transgressed it and all of us are imprisoned under sin (i.e. we are lawbreakers). The only basis where “righteousness” can be ours is through the “faithfulness of Jesus Christ” and “righteousness which is from/of God in Christ” is only appropriated “to those who believe”.
    c. This is therefore the basis of God’s declaring righteous the one who failed to keep the law but relies on and trust in Christ Jesus his Savior: “God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.” (Rom 3:25-26)

    (8) As can be observed in the points above, the “righteousness” that “justifies the wicked” (Rom 4:5) is a perfect righteousness able to meet the demand of the Law. It is a righteousness that is “not our own” because we could not keep the Law. There is only one person who did that “for us” and He is our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our righteousness is found “in Him”. It is a righteousness that comes from God yet belongs to God. It does not belong to us inherently for we are unrighteous. God is “just” in justifying the “wicked” (i.e. the law breaker) because of “Jesus’ faithfulness”. There is no other perfect righteousness that is beyond sin but that righteousness of God in Christ. Christ is our righteousness (1 Cor 1:30).

    As you can be seen by readers, the theological concept has been explained. I intentionally explained it without even touching the verbs like “logizomai”. This is to prove that theological concepts are not dependent upon a single word and its semantic range. But, adding to the support of the concept, I will now delve in to the realm of Romans 4 and “Logizomai”. Given the points above, we will examine how Romans 4 supports the concept of imputation of Christ’s righteousness. It is one piece of the puzzle that makes this glorious truth complete. More in the next post.

  29. De Maria,

    Thanks for the comments:

    Why can God forgive? In Paul’s words these terms are similar: “not counting our trespasses”, “counting righteousness”, “forgive”, “declare righteous”. The same is true in the context of 1 John 1:7-2:2). How can God forgive all our unrighteous and exact upon us the due punishment of sin? The basis is found outside of us as John explains: “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins (1 John 1:7)… we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2)”… How can God declare us righteous? How can God forgive us and not execute judgment? The answer to that question lies not in the inherent qualities of the wicked (or the sinner) but it lies in the Savior of the Sinner, the Righteous One, who is our atoning sacrifice for our sins. It is not “our work” that justified us but it is the “good work of Jesus Christ for us”.

    God bless,
    Joey

    1. Hello Joey,

      You said:
      Why can God forgive? In Paul’s words these terms are similar: “not counting our trespasses”, “counting righteousness”, “forgive”, “declare righteous”. …. The answer to that question lies not in the inherent qualities of the wicked (or the sinner) but it lies in the Savior of the Sinner, the Righteous One, who is our atoning sacrifice for our sins. It is not “our work” that justified us but it is the “good work of Jesus Christ for us”.

      That is Catholic Teaching. We do not justify ourselves. But answer this question. Who is justified by God? The man who continues in sins (1 Corinthians 6:9)? Or the man who claims to have faith alone (James 2:14)? Or rather, is it the man who repents from sin and begins to keep the Commandments (Romans 2:13)?

      This is the answer. We are not justified by our works. But unless we do the works of God, keeping the Commandments, God will not shed His mercy upon us. God will not justify the unrepentant sinner (Ex 20:6; Titus 3:5; Rev 22:14).

      God bless,
      Joey

      And you,

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  30. De Maria,

    You wrote: “Therefore, unless you make Scripture contradict itself, St. Paul is speaking about the wicked people who do not believe in God and disobey His Commandments willfully.”

    Comment: I don’t think this is exegetically defensible in Romans. I will show that if there is time. But, simply, Paul explains that he has a zeal for God (Phil 3:6a). He lived according to Law (Phil 3:5). He is “blameless according to the righteousness stipulated in the law” (Phil 3:6b). But even with this, he considers himself as “wicked” having understood that the Law requires perfect obedience. He is “righteous” but that righteousness is not enough to “justify the wicked”. Jesus said, “unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. You need a righteousness that is perfect. You don’t have that and can’t have that since you are a lawbreaker. You need a Saviour, De Maria. Will you not joyfully accept the Perfect Righteousness of Christ rather than the righteousness that is gained through your effort of cooperation and merits in the sacramental list of Rome? How I wish we’ll see eye to eye in this matter…

    God bless,
    Joey

    1. Joey,
      You said:
      Comment: I don’t think this is exegetically defensible in Romans. I will show that if there is time. But, simply, Paul explains that he has a zeal for God (Phil 3:6a). He lived according to Law (Phil 3:5). He is “blameless according to the righteousness stipulated in the law” (Phil 3:6b).

      So far we agree.

      But even with this, he considers himself as “wicked” having understood that the Law requires perfect obedience.

      You will need to show that from Scripture. Here is what St. Paul says:
      Philippians 3:15-17
      King James Version (KJV)
      15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensemble.

      Note that he considers himself perfect enough to be an example to others, that they might learn from him how to imitate Christ. Not only that, but he admonishes his congregation that they need to pay attention to others which give good example.

      He is “righteous” but that righteousness is not enough to “justify the wicked”.

      Again, the Church does not teach that we either judge or justify ourselves. We are justified by God. But God does not justify those who do not do His will by keeping the Law in the Commandments (Romans 2:13).

      Jesus said, “unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. You need a righteousness that is perfect.

      Correct. And if you are only a “snow covered dung hill” as it is reported that Luther taught, you have not achieved any righteousness. Yet Scripture says:
      2 Peter 1:5-10
      King James Version (KJV)
      5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

      6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

      7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

      8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

      10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

      Unless we perfect our faith in good works, we will not enter the Kingdom of God:
      James 2:17-24
      King James Version (KJV)
      17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

      18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

      19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

      20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

      21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

      22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

      23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

      24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

      There are many aspects to “perfect”. In the Catholic understanding, those who are not perfectly cleansed of their sin in this life, will be so cleansed in the next, in Purgatory.

      You don’t have that and can’t have that since you are a lawbreaker.

      But I have the Sacraments. And like David, I can present myself to God and he will make me blessed:
      Romans 4:6
      Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

      It is in the Sacraments that we present ourselves to God and WITHOUT WORKS, but only a proper disposition of faith and hope, God cleanses us from all sin.

      You need a Saviour, De Maria.

      I have a Saviour, Christ Jesus.

      Will you not joyfully accept the Perfect Righteousness of Christ rather than the righteousness that is gained through your effort of cooperation and merits in the sacramental list of Rome?

      It is in my cooperating with His Grace that I accept the Righteousness of God. But I will return the invitation to you. Will you not set aside the errors of the Reformers and come to the Table of the Lord?

      Hebrews 10:25-31
      King James Version (KJV)
      25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

      26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

      27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

      28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

      29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

      30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

      31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

      How I wish we’ll see eye to eye in this matter…

      As do I.

      God bless,
      Joey

      And you as well,

      De Maria

      1. Thanks De Maria. :) We’ll not see eye to eye in this matter. But I find your response interesting and intriguing to how RCs think about this. I’ll keep your response and use it in my work and class in order to illustrate the difference between us. It’s so revealing and full of information that I can use.

        Thanks,
        Joey

        1. Hi Joey,

          Thanks De Maria.

          You’re welcome.

          We’ll not see eye to eye in this matter.

          That is too bad. But you’re probably right.

          But I find your response interesting and intriguing to how RCs think about this. I’ll keep your response and use it in my work and class in order to illustrate the difference between us. It’s so revealing and full of information that I can use.

          Feel free. I’ve got more on the Catholic Teaching of justification and the Sacraments here;

          and on how to understand St. Paul’s teaching of faith apart from works, here.

          Thanks,
          Joey

          You’re welcome. And remember:
          1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.10But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

          Sincerely,

          De Maria

          1. This ran through my mind again and again:

            Joey: Will you not joyfully accept the Perfect Righteousness of Christ rather than the righteousness that is gained through your effort of cooperation and merits in the sacramental list of Rome?

            De Maria: It is in my cooperating with His Grace that I accept [as] the Righteousness of God.

            Can’t get over this… even now, I am thinking of it again and again and again…

            1. Joey Henry says:
              This ran through my mind again and again:

              Joey: Will you not joyfully accept the Perfect Righteousness of Christ rather than the righteousness that is gained through your effort of cooperation and merits in the sacramental list of Rome?

              De Maria: It is in my cooperating with His Grace that I accept [as] the Righteousness of God.

              Can’t get over this… even now, I am thinking of it again and again and again…

              Perhaps this will help:
              Romans 6:16
              Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

              Hebrews 5:9
              And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

              Philippians 2:12
              Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

              We cooperate with the grace of God by obeying the will of God. Only those who cooperate with His grace by obeying His will, shall be saved:
              Revelation 22:14-15
              King James Version (KJV)
              14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

              15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

              Sincerely,

              De Maria

  31. I may not be able to post this week due to busy sched. But I am crafting my response. Very interesting readings (albiet very important) on Romans 4 which I will incorporate to my response later (hopefully, as time permits).

  32. Romans 4 Faith, Works, Righteousness, Unrighteousness and Logizomai

    I will begin by providing the background of Romans 4. After Paul has argued that only the “doers of the Law are justified” (2:13) but that “all have transgressed the law and held accountable by the measure of the Law” (3:9, 3:19(1)); Paul now asserts three things:
    (1) Righteousness can’t be attained by sinful man by doing it because he has failed to keep it perfectly (3:20 (2));
    (2) Righteousness can only be gained through the “redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (3:24) for those who have already been declared guilty. Note that the work of Christ as the ground for this “Righteousness” is fixed in a historical fact. Paul made specifically clear that this work of Christ as the basis for this “Righteousness” is not a future action to be accomplished to the guilty but a finished action done in history. This historical fact centres on two events during the incarnational life of Christ, i.e. His death and resurrection (3:25 and 4:25). This “Righteousness” therefore is said to be “of/from God” (3:21 (3)) clearly specifying who is the owner of this “Righteousness”(4).
    (3) This “Righteousness of/from God through Christ’s faithfulness”(5) (3:22, 3:26) is “for all who believe” in Him. There are two sources of gaining righteousness here. One is “through the work of the Law” which is based on ones performance before the Law. Or “through the redemption that is in Jesus” (3:24) for “all who believe” (3:22). The former locates the basis of justification on the inherent work of man while the latter on an external/alien work done by someone in his behalf. It is clear from a Pauline perspective that “faith” is the instrument of appropriating this Righteousness.(6)

    Romans 4 is an extended argument of the third point. More specifically it is an expansion of the argument in Romans 3:27-31.

    a. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. (3:27)
    He has something to boast about – but not before God. (4:2)

    b. For we consider that a person is declared righteous by faith apart from works of the law (3:26)
    But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness (4:5)

    c. Since God is one, he will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (3:30)
    And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised, so that he would become the father of all those who believe but have never been circumcised that they too could have righteousness credited to them. (4:11)

    The structure of Romans 4 has great similarities both in word usage and the thought pattern as Romans 3:27-31. For me this is decisive as to the nature of this passage – that it is an extended explanation and illustration of why righteousness is by faith apart from works. The number one exhibit is Abraham and secondarily David. It is a passage designed to prove point three above. We’ll see later that the interpretation of the historical event in Abraham’s life and as well as David though pre-Christ and therefore the whole concept of the substitutionary atonement of Christ is not developed should not be divorced from a christocentric narrative as uniquely argued by Paul against his Jewish (Scripture exegetes) contemporaries. This will be shown later in the analysis of Romans 4 and Paul’s usage and exegesis of OT passages.

    to be continued
    ___________________________
    (1) Romans 3:19b. “Accountable (hupodikos)”. Friberg Lexicon defines it as “a legal technical term, of one who has lost all possibility of disproving a charge against him and thus has already lost his case”. This sets up the background and context in the discussion of justification. The lawcourt imagery used by Paul is very evident in the technical legal terms he is using.
    (2) Romans 3:20a. “Declared righteous in His sight (dikaiothesetai)”. The connection of 19b to the understanding of 20a is very important. There is a suit (trial or case) on which the charge is established to be true on the basis of the Law. The verdict is clear: no one will be declared righteous in His sight. In this instance, the “righteousness” needed involves “moral” righteousness. This connection is evident from the fact that Paul connects the guilty verdict from the breaking of the Law. A verdict of being righteous must include this “moral” aspect. Further, this “moral” righteousness must be perfect or else the verdict reverts to Romans 19b where the trial is lost because of “moral” imperfection.
    (3) Romans 3:21. “Righteousness from/of God (dikaiosune theou)”. The NIV uses the preposition “from”. The NASB uses “of”. The NIV portrays what the grammarians call “genitive of origin”. Meaning the source of this righteousness originates from God. The NASB portrays what the grammarians call “possessive genitive”. Meaning the one who inherently owns this righteousness is God. Both understanding is carried in the phrase. It is true that this phrase can be understood in different context and so careful attention to the context on how it is used is needed.
    (4) The connection therefore that the “Righteousness from/of God” consist of “divine and morally perfect righteousness” (see note 2) and the source of this righteousness in this particular context can be traced through Christ’s salvific accomplishment on the cross gives rise to the theological term “Righteousness of Christ”.
    (5) Some translation “faith in Christ” (objective genitive) which is also grammatically correct. However, the thought is redundant “faith in Christ for all who believe” which does not fit well in the argument. The subjective genitive (faithfulness of Christ) is preferable both in context and in usage. Note that when “pistis” takes a personal genitive, it is used in the subjective genitive and almost never in an objective genitive.
    (6) Note that there are three common expressions of the relationship between faith and justification: piste, ek pisteos, and dia piasteos. Pistei (the dative case of the noun pistis) is used in Romans 3:28. Ek pisteos is used in Romans 5:1. Dia pisteos is used in Ephesians 2:8. The dative denotes the importance of faith. The preposition dia denotes the instrumentality of faith and ek denotes the occasion of justification. Note that dia with the accusative would mean “on the ground of” or “on account of”. But “dia ten pistin” which would convey that meaning is never used by Paul.

  33. Hello Joey Henry,

    You said,
    Romans 4 Faith, Works, Righteousness, Unrighteousness and Logizomai
    I will begin by providing the background of Romans 4. After Paul has argued that only the “doers of the Law are justified” (2:13) but that “all have transgressed the law and held accountable by the measure of the Law” (3:9, 3:19(1)); …. There are two sources of gaining righteousness here. One is “through the work of the Law” which is based on ones performance before the Law. Or “through the redemption that is in Jesus” (3:24) for “all who believe” (3:22).

    That is not “or”. That is “and”. It should read:
    One is “through the work of the Law” which is based on ones performance before the Law. AND “through the redemption that is in Jesus” (3:24) for “all who believe” (3:22).

    Protestants have cast away the Works of the Law, that is, the keeping of the Ten Commandments. But Scripture has not. That is, God has not. It remains a requirement for all Christians (CCC#2068):
    Revelation 22:13-15
    King James Version (KJV)
    13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
    14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
    15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

    You seem to believe that St. Paul Romans 2 only to turn around and contradict himself. Read Romans 2:1-13. You’ll see that we are all alike to “continue in well doing” if we want to receive eternal life (Rom 2:7). And this is commanded of Jew and Gentile. In other words, of everyone. This is why doers of the law are justified. But not by the Law. By God.

    God justifies doers of the Law.
    God does not justify hearers of the Law.

    The former locates the basis of justification on the inherent work of man while the latter on an external/alien work done by someone in his behalf. It is clear from a Pauline perspective that “faith” is the instrument of appropriating this Righteousness.(6)

    Again, you have misunderstood. The latter and the former point to faith. Faith is the reason for works. Faith is always the reason for God’s mercy.
    Look at the Gospels. When Jesus healed the multitudes, what did they do? They approached Him in faith. Not works. But what did Christ say to the Young Rich Man?
    Matthew 19:17?And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

    This is precisely what is going on in Catholic Soteriology. When we approach the Sacraments, we approach in the proper disposition of faith, believing that He can do what He promised.

    But only those who have first, proven their faith by their works, will receive the mercy of God in the Sacraments. This is done by first studying to show ourselves approved (RCIA). These are they who are justified because they are “doers of the law” (Rom 2:13).

    Say for instance that you are a doer of the law, but you are not Catholic or Orthodox. Will you be justified by God? God is your judge. But if you are truly a doer of the law, you will be justified, ON THE LAST DAY. (Rev 20)

    Now, say that you are a doer of the law, but you are Catholic or Orthodox. Will you be justified by God? Again, God is judge. But if you are truly a doer of the law, you will be justified, in the Sacraments.

    That is not a guarantee of salvation for those who attend the Sacraments. Remember Scripture says:
    1 Peter 4:17?For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

    And also:
    Mark 16:16
    King James Version (KJV)
    16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    One must approach the Font of Grace in the proper disposition.

    2 Corinthians 5:11?Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

    Romans 4 is an extended argument of the third point. More specifically it is an expansion of the argument in Romans 3:27-31.
    a. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. (3:27)?He has something to boast about – but not before God. (4:2)
    b. For we consider that a person is declared righteous by faith apart from works of the law (3:26)?But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness (4:5)
    c. Since God is one, he will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (3:30)

    Pay special attention to c.
    Since God is one, he will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

    God is one. Therefore, He is doing the same thing in either case. It is by faith that we please God.

    The problem here, I believe, is that Protestants take the cart and set it in front of the horse. When Scripture says we are justified by faith. That doesn’t mean that WE JUDGE OUR FAITH. God does. And He judges faith by works.

    James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised, so that he would become the father of all those who believe but have never been circumcised that they too could have righteousness credited to them. (4:11)

    Do you think that St. Paul cast aside this Scripture:
    Genesis 26:5?Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

    When he said that about Abraham?

    I don’t think so, you see, Abraham was justified by faith BECAUSE he obeyed God’s Commandments, Statutes and Laws. IN HIS HEART. They have no excuse remember? The law is written in every man’s heart.

    Romans 2:15?Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

    The structure of Romans 4 has great similarities both in word usage and the thought pattern as Romans 3:27-31. For me this is decisive as to the nature of this passage – that it is an extended explanation and illustration of why righteousness is by faith apart from works.

    It is because that is what you were taught. But you were taught wrong. St. Paul is there giving the Sacramental Teaching. In the Sacraments, we approach Christ as the blind men,

    Matthew 9:27?And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us.
    or the cripple.

    Matt 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

    Or we present our children to Christ as did the woman of great faith.

    Matthew 15:28?Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

    The number one exhibit is Abraham and secondarily David. It is a passage designed to prove point three above. We’ll see later that the interpretation of the historical event in Abraham’s life and as well as David though pre-Christ and therefore the whole concept of the substitutionary atonement of Christ is not developed should not be divorced from a christocentric narrative as uniquely argued by Paul against his Jewish (Scripture exegetes) contemporaries. This will be shown later in the analysis of Romans 4 and Paul’s usage and exegesis of OT passages.

    The Catholic Church never divorces any doctrine from Christ. All of Catholic doctrine has one aim . Union with Christ.

    Sincerely,
    De Maria

  34. Does anyone agree here with De Maria’s exegesis of the texts and explanation of what he/she understands about Catholic Theology?

    1. I don’t mean to speak for others, but to keep things focused I and others were waiting for you to say what you were going to say before we start commenting. In my experience, when people start commenting too early then it sidetracks the main conversation and can even prevent the full side from being told before everyone gets tired and burnt out.

      So I basically haven’t even read all the new responses people made to you and I wont comment on what I think about them until later.

      1. Oops! I didn’t mean to jump the gun! However, I assumed that since Joey had posted his comment without addressing anyone in particular, he expected someone to respond.

        Joey said:
        Joey Henry says:
        July 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm
        Romans 4 Faith, Works, Righteousness, Unrighteousness and Logizomai

        I will begin by providing the background of Romans 4. ….

        If I have broken some protocol, I apologize.

        In the meantime, I would love to hear the answer to Joey’s question:
        Does anyone agree here with De Maria’s exegesis of the texts and explanation of what he/she understands about Catholic Theology?

        By the way, I’m a man.

        Anyway, if any Catholic disagrees with me, I don’t mind being corrected. And I don’t mind explaining myself until we come to mutual agreement. Isn’t the entire point of these exercises, to teach the truth?

        In the meantime, Joey, I did also post links to the Catechism and the Council of Trent, Chapter VI, in case you missed them.

        Sincerely,

        De Maria

  35. Continuation:

    Exegesis Romans 4:1-2

    1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh, has discovered regarding this matter? 2 For if Abraham was declared righteous by the works of the law, he has something to boast about–but not before God.

    Exegesis: This is an extended argument of Paul’s statement in 3:27-28. Abraham is the first exhibit to prove the point already made. The point is rather straightforward. When it comes to the question on what is the principle on which Abraham was justified, Paul’s answer is that he was justified on the principle of faith and not by the works of the law. Otherwise, Abraham can boast but not before God. In other words, in God’s perspective Abraham has no claim before God for righteousness because he did the works of the law. Note that, in principle Abraham can claim for righteousness by the works of the law because God promised righteousness (7) to those who fulfil it. This should not be taken in a pelagian sense because had Abraham fulfilled the demand of the law his claim before God is only because God was gracious to provide for such a covenant. God is not obliged to reward Abraham because God is not obliged to enter into a covenant relationship with sinful man. But graciously, He did enter into a covenant relationship with sinful man even if He is not obliged to. But as the matter stands, Paul has already shown that no Gentile or Jew stands justified if measured through the Law (3:19-20) and this includes Abraham(8). Abraham has no boast before the Lord because as Paul has argued in the previous passage, “No one is declared righteous before him [God] by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (3:20, 23
    ____________________________________
    (7) Deuteronomy 6:25 “And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” It should be noted that God’s entering into covenant with man began in Eden. Where God promised life if His commands are obeyed and punishes if it is broken (Gen 2:16). The essence of covenant of Deut 6:25 is already evident even before Sinai. For example, Gen 4:7 reveals that a set of commands structuring the concept of right and wrong is in place. The covenant is also being echoed such that if what is right is obeyed then acceptance is rewarded. If not, a curse or punishment is garnered (Gen 4:11-12).
    (8) Note that Abraham was called by God not because he is righteous before the Law. He falls short of the Law as he is a worshipper of foreign gods. This can be seen in the historical culture on which Abraham came from (Josh 24:14-15). Further, even after Abraham called out of Ur, we find him telling half truths twice (Gen 12:11, 20:2). Even his faith is not perfect as we find him doubting the promise of the covenant (Gen 17:17). He even consented to Sarah’s plan to fulfil the promise by their own effort (Gen 16:2). These biblical account is the real background of Abraham in contrast to the traditions held by Paul’s Jewish contemporaries which says for example, “Abraham was perfect in his deeds with the Lord, and well pleasing in righteousness all the days of his life” (Jub. 23:10). “We find that Abraham our father had performed the whole law before it was given, for it is written, Because that Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws [Gen 26:5]” (Kidd 4:14). Paul, interpreted Abraham’s situation such that no part of Abraham can boast before God even though he is an exemplar of fulfilling the works of the law and faith (as his Jewish contemporaries believe). Abraham just like everyone else who fall short before the Law’s perfect demand is “ungodly” (4:5) is only declared righteous by faith. Later, we will discuss this faith’s nature where it looks not upon one’s own achievement but on God’s achievement.

  36. Hello Joey,

    Is that all the exegesis you have of Romans 4? It seems the fuller treatment was either cut off, not posted, or got caught in a spam filter. If you need a couple more days to get it finished, that’s fine.

  37. Nick,

    I am putting this at a lower priority. But I will try to finish until verse 5 and a excurcus on the word logizomai. No time this week for writing. Perhaps next week.

    Joey

  38. Hi Joey,
    I can see we are going to have some very basic disagreements on your exegesis of Romans up to Chapter 4. The first two are standard Reformed/Evangelical issues that are more or less assumed. The third seems to be something that you’ve read into the passages as a result of the first two.

    The first R/E dogmatic assumption is that Romans 2 is to be ignored as hypothetical.
    In other words, this would be true if it were possible, but it isn’t so let’s move on to Romans three as the real meat of Paul’s teaching on justification. Indeed of the numerous Protestant books and articles on justification, faith alone, etc., you will rarely even find Romans 2 mentioned at all. Yet Paul does not use hypothetical language in Romans 2 and even says that this is his Gospel (when God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus –Rom. 2:16). Yes, at first there seems to be some contradiction between Romans 2 and 3, but Chapter 4 will provide the key. More on that later.

    The second assumption that is made is that Abraham only had justifying faith at the point of Gen 15:6. I find this a very difficult argument to substantiate, since Abraham had a supernatural justifying faith when he left his land to trust in the promises of God in Genesis 12. Abraham’s witness up to Genesis 15:6 is not one of human reason or of natural expectations. It is one of trusting in God’s promises. If his example of faith prior to Gen. 15:6 is not a justifying faith, then certainly “faith alone” can not justify. If you need some backing on this, refer to Hebrews 11 which confirms the very fact that Abraham had a justifying faith before Gen 15:6. That is, unless you think all of the examples of faith in Heb. 11 are just those of human belief, which would be a very strange “cloud of witnesses”.
    You can also look at the majority of Romans 4. It says that Abraham in hope against hope he believed. This is a supernatural faith and not of his own doing. If it was completely of Abraham’s own doing, it would be a blind faith, completely unreasonable in the natural realm.
    If there is anything significant in the chronology of Abraham being said to be justified by faith in Gen. 15:6, Paul explains this explicitly. It is so that there is no doubt that he was justified before he was circumcised so he can’t be claimed exclusively by the Jews. He therefore qualifies as the father of all who have faith, either Jew or Greek. I’ll expand on this later.

    The third issue that seems to be your personal exegesis and appears to be based, at least in large part, on the first two faulty assumptions. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I have gleaned from your exegesis. You seem to be making the point that Abraham’s walk with God was representative of “works of law”. Then you point out Abraham’s life prior to our introduction to Him. You also make other arguments that Paul never uses about Abraham’s flaws and missteps. At this point I think you have lost contact with Paul’s teaching and indeed are following the exact opposite path of Paul’s argument. Abraham isn’t being used to show how he did all of these works which could never live up to God’s perfect standard and used for justification. The point is that Abraham had a supernatural faith which responded in obedience to God. Paul uses the phrase “the obedience of faith” as bookends in the book of Romans; the first and last mentions of faith in Romans. Abraham exemplifies this.
    The point is that Abraham had a gracious relationship with God. He wasn’t seeking payment for his deeds, but trusted in God’s promises.
    Now to bring all of these together in Romans 4 is this:
    Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
    5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
    This is the key. You cannot put God in a position of debt. You cannot present your deeds for payment as if God were an employer. There is no one perfect under the law or otherwise, so no person can even make a legitimate claim that God pay him with justification. Only God is righteous, and He is righteous not only because he said so, but specifically because the sacrifice of His only Son proves that He has a justifiable reason for granting justification to sinners. Without the propitiation of Jesus, man could only be destined to condemnation.
    Abraham is not one who is an example of demanding payment for his deeds, but one who trusts in God’s promises. This also removes the apparent contradiction between Romans 2 and 3. Romans 2 does not show anyone seeking to put God in debt, but those truly seeking Him. It furthermore shows that God grants grace and kindness to those who seek him as opposed to those who suppress the truth. The latter, God gives up to their worldly passions as we see repeated in Romans 1.

    I’m sure there are some loose ends to tie up here, but several major points have been made that make much of your exegesis untenable at best. Your exegesis is heavily focused on God as sovereign judge to the near exclusion of God as Father.
    Just as the etymology and usage of logizomai has no basis in scripture as a mysterious transfer of sin for an alien righteousness, Romans 1-4 likewise does not support it contextually.
    You first have to make a case for the two apriori assumptions inherent in your exegesis, then please clarify how you think Paul is using Abraham as someone who did works of law and was not justified by them.

    Now please know that I don’t want to misrepresent what you are trying to convey, so please accept my apologies in advance if I have misrepresented your intended meanings in any way.

    God Bless

  39. Hi John,

    Thank you. I am well aware of other interpretation of Romans 2:13. In the academic world, we are not fed with just one perspective. I have studied the different interpretations of this verse even reformed professors who held a different perspective than I do. But, I still take the hypothetical (though you should know that this is not an accurate description of this perspective) view. If you want to interact with me on the contextual and linguistic advantage of the hypothetical view (wrongly labeled), let me know.

    I am not presenting Abraham as someone seeking justification by his deeds or by “works of law”. You must have misread my remarks. Also you said, “You also make other arguments that Paul never uses about Abraham’s flaws and missteps. At this point I think you have lost contact with Paul’s teaching and indeed are following the exact opposite path of Paul’s argument.” Strikingly, Paul did made the argument of the status of Abraham against his Jewish contemporaries by lumping Abraham under the term “asebe” (Nick will try to follow some NPP interpretation on this one on his last blog post and I will show how this is incoherent in the Pauline schema when I get to 4:5). Paul’s conclusion is not without biblical basis as I have presented the cases both before and after his “encounter” with God in which he is not perfect (even his faith with the promise) contra the Jewish contemporaries who assert otherwise. I am not saying that Paul used these arguments but that Paul has the proper background of his assessment of Abraham based on the biblical text. But, don’t mistake that though the saving faith of Abraham can be assailed, it is never the case that it will be lost to oblivion but rather grows stronger and stronger because of God’s grace. It will never waiver though assailed at some points.

    My next post will deal with Gen 15:6. Though I have no time crafting it as I am writing only in my spare time (as a stress reliever and somehow an escape from the books I am reading), I will try to do my best to finish this post and not lose interest. :) I will deal with the chronology and how this passage was used by Paul. Then the “logizomai” thingy in which Nick is excited to interact. I hope I crunch these things in the spare time.

    God bless too…

    Regards,
    Joey

  40. I am writing hastily. A few more and this is finished. The next will be an excurcus of the meaning of logizomai. Then 4:5 exegesis.
    _______________________________
    3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for(1) righteousness(2).” 4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation.
    _______________________________
    Exegesis: Paul now explains(3) why Paul can’t boast before God. This is a direct quote from Genesis 15:6(4) which his Jewish contemporaries knew very well. But Paul’s appeal to Genesis 15:6 to point out that Abraham has no boast before the Lord is diametrically opposed to this point. The extra biblical Jewish literature gives several examples viewing Abraham’s faith as meritorious and therefore garners righteousness. “The faith with which their father Abraham believed in Me merits that I should divide the sea for them, as it is written: “And he believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Mekilta on Exod 14.15(35b)). Another example is, “So you find that our father Abraham became the heir of this and of the coming world simply by the merit of the faith with which he believed in the Lord, as it is written: “He believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Mekilta 10b (Exod 14.31)). This led to the view that Abraham obeyed the law fully and therefore attains the covenantal promise of righteousness to anyone who does so (5).

    But Paul calls Abraham as his grand example of a person who is wicked thus destitute of the standard of righteousness but merely trusts/rely on the God who justifies the wicked and receives the declaration of being righteous. The theological explanation of Paul of Genesis 15:6 is found in verse four where he explicitly explains the nature of “crediting”. It is a crediting done due to grace. Meaning, Abraham did not really have the “works” needed to justify him. If placed before the standard of the Law, he would fail as Paul asserts, “no one is righteous (3:10); for all have sinned(6) and continue falling short of God’s glory (3:23)” thus “no one can glory or boast (4:1)”(7). Just like everybody (Jew and Gentile) else, he is ungodly having missed the mark but was called by God and given a promise in which Abraham responded in reliance to what God can do rather on what he can do (even though at times we find Abraham doubting the promise).
    _________________________________
    (1) The preposition eis translated as “as” in many English translations does not denote equivalence. It is not saying that “faith” is equivalent to “righteousness”. Rather, the more appropriate translation is: faith “for or unto” righteousness. Faith lays hold or leads toward a righteous standing and does not necessarily connote that faith is righteousness by itself. A legal standing is granted through faith, i.e. the Lord’s verdict on the ungodly is that he stands as righteous by his faith. This is not because “faith” is another kind of virtue that man can boast before God. But rather, the nature of saving faith is that it relies solely on what God has done and is able to do recognizing that man has not contributed anything to the fulfillment of a promise. The uniqueness of Paul’s explanation against his Jewish contemporaries is that the work of God is accomplished in Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection not in the work of any other man nor self. Faith therefore is a sole reliance on what Jesus Christ did on behalf of the sinner as the propitiation of his sin rather than a sole reliance on the “value” his own faith before God. Now, this is not saying that faith has no value at all. Faith pleases God and someday it will reap rewards. But, the important thing to remember is: it does not follow that what pleases God is meritorious of pardon or justification.
    (2) There is a linguistic parallel of the words “credited for righteousness” in Psalm 106:30 (see Num 25:1-13). It should be noted that no Apostle has appealed to Psalm 106:30 in discussing the nature of justification (not even James). Paul in Romans 4 did not use it either to explain justification. Thus, I wonder why we should make Psalm 106:30 as a controlling factor of interpreting Romans 4:3 when linguistic parallels are just that linguistic parallel and not contextual parallels. For the sake of interest, how do we take into account Psalm 106:30? We go back to the source narrative as Psalm 106:30 is merely a summary of what happened. The narrative is found in Num 25:1-13. The Lord’s anger was aroused due to Israel’s sexual immorality and idolatry. But one person seems to ignore such anger “showing off a Medianite woman” even when the whole community was weeping because of the Lord’s judgment. Phinehas, in his zeal to uphold the command of the Lord (25:4) “took a javelin in his hand, and went after the Israelite man into the tent and thrust through the Israelite man and into the woman’s abdomen.” Because of this, the wrath of the Lord was appeased. The righteousness that Psalm 106:30 refers to is the upholding of the command of the Lord (25:4) so that his anger towards Israel was appeased. This righteousness consists of a “covenant of peace” granting Phinehas and his descendants “a covenant of a permanent priesthood, because he has been zealous for his God, and has made atonement for the Israelites.” (25:13). This promise of “priesthood” is limited to Phinehas only and to his descendants. It has no universal effect. The mechanics of “crediting” remains the same: there is the beholder, the basis and the mental assessment of the beholder. In the case of Phinehas, it was his zeal that was the basis on which he obeyed the command. When Paul explains justification in Romans 4, we find the basis is the atonement of Christ alone upon which the Law’s demand was fulfilled in our behalf and this is received by faith (Romans 3:20-26). In both contexts, the protestant understanding of the word “logizomai” in Psalm 106:30 and Romans 4:3 is very consistent at this point. It is a declarative act with a basis from the perspective of the beholder and not an act of transformation or infusion.
    (3) Note the Gk. Gar hinting that Paul is explaining his previous thoughts.
    (4) The use of Genesis 15:6 is common during Paul’s time and his contemporaries. They applied it to different events of Abraham’s life. In the canon itself, such phenomenon is evident. Example, in Romans 4:22, the Genesis 15:6 quote was tied up to event when God promised Isaac to Abraham. Paul also tied up Genesis 15:6 to the event when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5) which is way beyond the historical chronology of Genesis 15. In Galatians 3:6, the Genesis 15:6 quote is tied up to event when God promised that all nations will be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:3). In James 2:23, the Genesis 15:6 quote was tied up to the Aqedah event (Genesis 22). The point is that the “faith of Abraham” that justified him is the same kind of God-given faith that we see in his life (whether in Gen 12, Gen 15, or Gen 22). It is a “faith” which nature recognizes the utter helplessness of man and his total dependence on the promises of a gracious and sovereign God. We can’t say that the “faith of Abraham” in Gen 12 is not the same kind of faith in Gen 15 or Gen 22. It is one and the same kind of faith that justified Abraham through out his life. Paul does later explain that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised but this is an argument utilized to further support his claim that the “faith of Abraham”, no matter when this is exemplified in his life, consistently shows its nature – it does not rely upon the works of man but on God’s power to fulfill His promise though it is humanly impossible.
    (5) See note previous post.
    (6) The greek word really means to miss the mark. It should be noted that there is no other mark or standard on which Paul introduced upon which one is judged righteous or unrighteous but the obeying the Law (2:13).
    (7) The greek word (4:2) really means “that of which one glories or can glory, matter or ground of glorying”

  41. Hey Joey,
    Thanks for your response and trying to clarify your position for me. Understand that I am not an academic, so maybe I am just trying to follow your posts from a logical standpoint. For instance, when you say you take the hypothetical stance on Romans 2, yet it is not an accurate description, I have to assume that it is effectively how you view Romans 2. Maybe you can fill a few pages to explain the difference, but in the end it probably won’t change my basic understanding. Perhaps it could, I don’t know. In the end, I don’t see Romans 2 using any sort of language that would compel me to put it aside as a parallel version of justification which is theoretical and unattainable in reality. Since I know your time is limited, could you at least point me to a thorough treatment of Romans 2 from the Reformed perspective that coincides with your understanding? As I mentioned previously, modern Reformed (and other ’evangelical’) authors/scholars don’t spend much time (often none at all) in dealing with Rom. 2 in regards to faith and justification.
    The fact that Paul sums it up as “my gospel” seems to serve as confirmation that it is to be taken as part of his gospel. Again, I think this is critical in order to understand your conclusions concerning Paul’s overall message.

    Regarding Abraham, I am still a little confused on how you think Paul is employing Abraham’s example. Whether the contemporary Jews in Rome thought Abraham was perfect in every way under the Law (which he was not under), does not seem to fit any of Paul’s points. I also don’t think that the Jews could be so blind as not to see that Abraham did stumble, especially when he apparently lost trust in God and decided to work out God’s promised inheritance on his own. It could be that Jews used hyperbole as a common form of speech. Jesus Himself demonstrates this quite often. They may have also been looking at the entirety of Abraham’s life of faithfulness. The evidence that Abraham lost trust in God, or at least thwarted His will is rather clear. Thus, I have difficulty thinking the Jews didn’t realize this.

    What I see Paul doing in regard to the Jews and Abraham is demonstrating that:
    1.) The Jews had no exclusive claim to Abraham. He is the father of Israel by physical lineage, but more importantly the spiritual father of ALL who have faith.
    2.) That Abraham had this faith (and righteousness) before he was circumcised and therefore not under the Mosaic Law in any way. Thus, he was effectively still a Gentile. This appears to me to be the point that is developed more than any other. It seems pretty reasonable to conclude that the Jews were still promoting their circumcision as proof of their greater favor with God. They may have been of the opinion that they could present this to God for justification. Paul squashes this notion throughout Romans. This is amplified in texts like Rom 3:1 – What advantage is there in being a Jew or in the value of circumcision? The answer Paul gives probably wasn’t very satisfying to the Jews.

    Both of the above main points are rather explicit in the text.

    Also implicit in the text is that Abraham is being portrayed by Paul as the main example of the obedience of faith which is what Paul says he has been commissioned as an apostle to bring about (Rom 1:5, 16:26).
    Paul also makes the distinction of the letter of the law vs. the Spirit, the latter written on the hearts of believers (as prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel). To me, this speaks of an infused quality of faith, but I’ll try not to get side-tracked.
    What you don’t see is Paul ever pointing out is a specific example of Abraham being an ungodly man. If your point is to be considered, vis-à-vis the prevailing Jewish attitudes towards Abraham’s self righteousness, you would expect Paul to give us at least one example of Abraham’s failings to shatter the Jewish image. In other words, if the Hebrew attitude concerning Abraham’s self righteousness was so heavily ingrained, what has Paul said to this point that would change this? In fact, when he has the chance to do so, he does nothing except reinforce these prevailing attitudes:

    Rom 4:18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.”
    19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
    20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
    21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
    22 That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.”

    I would even say that Paul by not pointing out Abraham’s major loss of trust and instead saying “he did not weaken in faith and “No distrust made him waver” is just feeding into the Jewish legend. This also does nothing to show that Abraham was “ungodly” after his justification, whenever this occurred. Paul even says this is WHY his faith was reckoned as righteousness. He also shows that these are ongoing attributes of Abraham’s faith, which also does not portray a one-time event.

    If you were a Hebrew member of the Roman church, has Paul done anything to change your mind? Where is the specific example of Abraham’s ungodliness that would convince you? And if Abraham is an example of an ungodly man, why is he portrayed as an example of faith (the obedience of faith) for both Jews and Gentiles?
    Just pointing out that God justifies the ungodly (asebe), is also not a specific reference to Abraham, nor does it mean that we remain automatically ungodly after being justified. Nor does it imply that we remain only legally righteous afterward. In fact, the strength of that term would suggest that we are still ontologically God-haters, insolent, disobedient pagans if we remained in an ungodly state after justification.

    Again, I point to 4:4 as the linchpin of Romans up to this point. Obligating God to pay us for works which can never live up to God’s perfect standard apart from grace, are futile (and really, really stupid). It is also not the kind of relationship that God (as our Father) wants to have with us (his adopted sons). There isn’t any clear evidence that Abraham expected payment for his obedience, but had a supernatural faith that God would fulfill His promises. There is no natural explanation for this kind of faith unless Abraham was utterly delusional, but we know this is not the case.

    Your view also makes the “hall of faith” discourse in Heb. 11 equivalent to examples of the faith of pagans as that which pleases God. Yet Hebrews 11 precedes these examples with this:

    Hbr 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
    2 For by it the men of old gained approval.

    And then:

    Hbr 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

    Then we get examples of Abraham’s faith starting from Gen. 12.
    According to the view that Abraham was not justified until Gen 15:6, this means these acts of faith listed in Heb. 11 are examples of a both those with a justifying faith and the pagan faith of ungodly men and women that were yet pleasing to God and by which they gained approval?
    How exactly can anything we do without a true justifying faith in God be pleasing to Him? If one is still outside of His kindness (grace), how could one please God when the perfect standard would presumably apply? It seems clear that God must be looking at these acts through a different lens – the lens of grace.

    Just one more point before I wrap this up. Joey, how can you know you are in a state of justice with God? If Abraham was not justified during the years preceeding Gen. 15:6 I have to ask what is faith? This is after Abram trusted in God and left his people, called on the name of the Lord (a very common biblical phrase requesting God’s favor including salvation) , was blessed by Melchisedek and called Abram of God most high. My point is if Abraham was not righteous by faith before God until Gen. 15:6, how can you possibly know if you are?

    I know this is getting incredibly long, but there are several other things I could add such as the example of David and Phineas (as I see you have addressed in your most recent post) that would have to be overcome before I could see how you arrive at your doctrine of justification and especially justification by faith alone by a one-time transfer of our sin for Christ’s alien righteousness.

    Again, my intent is not be overly aggressive in my questioning, and I hope you see that there is at least some merit in the questions and concerns I have raised and not just petty arguments.

    I do appreciate your willingness to discuss this. Blessings!

    1. Excellent response, John. I just want to highlight one of your comments. You said:

      Just one more point before I wrap this up. Joey, how can you know you are in a state of justice with God? If Abraham was not justified during the years preceeding Gen. 15:6 I have to ask what is faith? This is after Abram trusted in God and left his people, called on the name of the Lord (a very common biblical phrase requesting God’s favor including salvation) , was blessed by Melchisedek and called Abram of God most high. My point is if Abraham was not righteous by faith before God until Gen. 15:6, how can you possibly know if you are?

      Bearing in mind that ST. PAUL says that Abraham was faithful from the moment that God called him:
      Hebrews 11:8
      King James Version (KJV)
      8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

      So, John, your point is absolutely devastating to any faith “alone” proponent. If Abraham were justified by faith “alone”, he would have been justified in Gen 12:4!

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  42. John,

    I took the time to leave a very brief response. I have wedding preparations to make. :) Makes life very interesting and the theology I’ve learned in Romans 4 very real and practical. I am not conversing with you to win points. And I hope my responses do not get accross as such.

    1. For different views of Romans 2 read Prof. Moo’s commentary. Then compare it with Prof. Schriener’s. Both are reformed in theology but took different stance on Romans 2:13. I’ll share with you my thoughts (as I have studied the issues) on this when time permits.

    2. You said, “In other words, if the Hebrew attitude concerning Abraham’s self righteousness was so heavily ingrained, what has Paul said to this point that would change this?” –> Paul already gave a very lengthy explanation on how both Jew and Gentile have failed to meet the standard of the Law and how all are sinners and continually fall short of God’s glory chap 3 — that the wrath of God was only porpitiated through the faithfulness of Christ and that righteousness that justifies is the righteousness of/from God (not our own) that is gained through faith in the finished work of Christ (climaxing at His death and resurrection in behalf of the guilty) and not in any work done by man or self. Paul, brought about the Abrahamic narrative to portray this truth. I find it hard to believe in exegeting 4:5 that Abraham is not the referent here as, exegetically, vv 4-5 is the direct explaination of Paul’s usage of Gen 15:6 in this context. Paul, in this regard, did structure the argument to mimic the flow of thought of chapter 3 (see previous post). Abraham, though regarded by Jews are perfect, was regarded by Paul as “ungodly” needing righteousness (see note 1 and note 4).

    The overall context is still the Righteousness of God that justifies the wicked by faith. This will not change as Paul used the Abrahamic narrative. Abraham was not put forward as an example of having “faith” only. He is the prime example of the activity of God in justifying the condemned and guilty. God is the subject not Abraham. Even Romans 4:18-22 serves as an extended explanation of why this justification is “by faith not works” if it is “by grace”. More importantly, what kind of “faith” that justifies. What brought about the “promise” is not Abraham’s faith per se. What brought about “Isaac” is not because of anything intrinsic in Abraham (not his efforts, not his deeds not his condition but inspite of Abraham’s failures, effort and physical limitation). It was all God’s doing all along… Abraham’s faith recognizes that as Abraham brought nothing to the table for the promise. And that is why, faith is the only instrument that receives the promises of God even if the present reality does not correspond to that promise. It was the perfect answer why “works” is not the instrument but faith. In other words, faith is the only proper response to apprehend what Christ did for us on Calvary and the Resurrection since it is the only response that enables us not to look at our intrinsic effort, ability and condition but God’s alone. It is the only instrument that gives us the eyes to see the Lord’s verdict of “not guilty” fully knowing that we are “guilty” because of Christ’s Obedience (see Chap 5) in our behalf. That faith will not waiver (as Abraham’s faith did not) though assailed at some points in our life and it will cling ever more to the promise of God that those who believe in Christ will be justified because of the finished work of Christ in our behalf and not because of our intrinsic worth, efforts and condition (3:22).

    We’ll continue my post soon regarding “logizomai”. Right now, with all the wedding preparation, I’ll take a break.

    Regards,
    Joey

    1. Hello Joey,

      You said to John:
      2….Paul already gave a very lengthy explanation on how both Jew and Gentile have failed to meet the standard of the Law

      Correct.

      and how all are sinners and continually fall short of God’s glory chap 3 —

      Not quite. Again, that is your interpretation. Unless you claim that St. Paul contradicts himself, you need to take into account that he also says, in Ch. 5:
      Romans 5:14
      King James Version (KJV)
      14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

      In order to understand what St. Paul is talking about when he says, “all have sinned” we need to correlate to the Old Testament verses to which this is making reference:
      Isaiah 41:26
      King James Version (KJV)
      26 Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words.

      Is Isaiah talking about everyone in the world? No. Here’s the proof. It is Isaiah who is speaking. Is Isaiah unfaithful and unrighteous?

      Now, lets go down a few more lines:
      29 Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.

      God is speaking of idolaters. Search throughout the Scriptures, this refrain is commonly made. God is referring to idolaters and fools who don’t believe in God at all, atheists.

      Psalm 14:1
      King James Version (KJV)
      14 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

      St. Paul understands the Scriptures. In addition, there are other verses which state positively that there some people who are righteous in the eyes of God:
      Genesis 7:1
      King James Version (KJV)
      1 And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

      Psalm 69:28
      King James Version (KJV)
      28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

      Psalm 72:7
      King James Version (KJV)
      7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

      Therefore, then, St. Paul would not have contradicted himself nor the other Scriptures.

      that the wrath of God was only porpitiated through the faithfulness of Christ

      True. Just as Moses and Abraham had faced down God’s wrath in the breach. So now, Christ, dying on the cross, ameliated the wrath of the Father towards mankind.

      and that righteousness that justifies is the righteousness of/from God (not our own)

      Absolutely. All good things come from God. As the Scripture says:
      Philippians 2:12-13
      King James Version (KJV)
      12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvationM with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

      that is gained through faith in the finished work of Christ (climaxing at His death and resurrection in behalf of the guilty) and not in any work done by man or self.

      Yes. Jesus finished His work. But Scripture is clear that He left for us a job to do. See Phil 2:12 above and:
      Hebrews 5:9
      King James Version (KJV)
      9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

      1 Peter 2:21
      For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

      There are many more verses to show that we have a part to play in our own salvation and in the salvation of others:
      James 5:20
      King James Version (KJV)
      20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

      Paul, brought about the Abrahamic narrative to portray this truth. I find it hard to believe in exegeting 4:5 that Abraham is not the referent here as, exegetically, vv 4-5 is the direct explaination of Paul’s usage of Gen 15:6 in this context.

      With all due respect to John, I agree with you that Abraham is included in this category of “ungodly”. But I disagree with the conclusions you draw from this understanding.

      Paul, in this regard, did structure the argument to mimic the flow of thought of chapter 3 (see previous post). Abraham, though regarded by Jews are perfect, was regarded by Paul as “ungodly” needing righteousness (see note 1 and note 4).

      Nope. St. Paul was not saying that Abraham was not righteous. If he were, he would be contradicting God who in the very same verse says that Abraham is accounted righteous. What St. Paul means is that Abraham believed in GOD. The phrase, “who justifies the ungodly” is a Hebraic form of speech in which they redundantly say the same thing. God justifies sinners WHO REPENT OF THEIR SINS.

      Go back to Romans 2:13:
      Romans 2:13
      King James Version (KJV)
      13 ….but the doers of the law shall be justified.

      Doers of the Law are accounted righteous by God, because indeed they have proven it by their works. And let us not forget what St. Paul said about the very first encounter that Abraham had with God:
      Hebrews 11:8
      King James Version (KJV)
      8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

      Now, if you believe in faith ALONE. And I think this is what this entire conversation has been about, then you have to admit that your own soteriology deems Abraham righteous FROM THE MOMENT that God called him.

      The overall context is still the Righteousness of God that justifies the wicked by faith.

      Faith proved in works.
      Genesis 26:5
      King James Version (KJV)
      5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

      This will not change as Paul used the Abrahamic narrative. Abraham was not put forward as an example of having “faith” only. He is the prime example of the activity of God in justifying the condemned and guilty. God is the subject not Abraham.

      They are both subject. Abraham is the subject which is described as faithful:
      Romans 4:19
      King James Version (KJV)
      19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:

      God is described as the justifier of the faithful.

      Even Romans 4:18-22 serves as an extended explanation of why this justification is “by faith not works” if it is “by grace”. More importantly, what kind of “faith” that justifies. What brought about the “promise” is not Abraham’s faith per se. What brought about “Isaac” is not because of anything intrinsic in Abraham (not his efforts, not his deeds not his condition but inspite of Abraham’s failures, effort and physical limitation). It was all God’s doing all along…

      THAT is Catholic Teaching. Again, refer to Phil 2:12-13

      Abraham’s faith recognizes that as Abraham brought nothing to the table for the promise. And that is why, faith is the only instrument that receives the promises of God even if the present reality does not correspond to that promise.

      But faith is not proven by empty words. Faith is proven by actions.
      Galatians 5:6
      King James Version (KJV)
      6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

      It was the perfect answer why “works” is not the instrument but faith. In other words, faith is the only proper response to apprehend what Christ did for us on Calvary and the Resurrection since it is the only response that enables us not to look at our intrinsic effort, ability and condition but God’s alone.

      And therein is the difference between Catholic and Protestant.
      Catholics are taught not to judge the merit of their works. This is easily proven by a response Catholics give when accosted by Evangelicals. And we are soundly reprimanded by those Evangelicals for that response. Protestants are wont to ask, “Are you saved?” To which we respond, “I don’t know. God knows.”

      Protestants, who are accustomed to set aside the judgement of God and replace it with their own exalted judgement of the merit of their own faith, will look askance at us for such a response. But Scripture says:
      1 Corinthians 4:2-4
      King James Version (KJV)
      2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

      But it doesn’t seem to penetrate the Protestant psyche, I have repeated it over and over and over. We do not judge our works. We leave judgement to God:
      Luke 17:10
      King James Version (KJV)
      10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

      It is a very foreign concept to you, I know. Placing complete faith in your salvation on God’s judgement rather than your own. I don’t mean that facetiously. It is plain for all to see.

      Protestants judge themselves saved.
      Catholics leave the judgement of our salvation to God.

      It is the only instrument that gives us the eyes to see the Lord’s verdict of “not guilty” fully knowing that we are “guilty” because of Christ’s Obedience (see Chap 5) in our behalf. That faith will not waiver (as Abraham’s faith did not) though assailed at some points in our life and it will cling ever more to the promise of God that those who believe in Christ will be justified because of the finished work of Christ in our behalf and not because of our intrinsic worth, efforts and condition (3:22).

      You are comparing yourself to Abraham. The main difference is this. Because of his faith, Abraham worked:
      Hebrews 11:8
      By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

      Hebrews 11:17
      By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

      Whereas, Protestants claim faith ALONE and declare they don’t have to do a thing but claim their salvation.

      We’ll continue my post soon regarding “logizomai”. Right now, with all the wedding preparation, I’ll take a break.

      Are you getting married? Congratulations.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  43. Nick,

    Romans 4:1-4 is in already. What is lacking is the excurcus on logizomai and Romans 5.

    No time to write these this week. Though, logizomai might be finished in the next two weeks.

    Thanks,
    Joey

  44. The material is written in haste thus not edited. But, this should suffice for now. I’ll continue looking at Romans 4 usage of logizomai in the next installment. This merely provides the background of the next installment:
    _______________________________________
    Excurcus: Logizomai in Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4

    The verb logizomai appears 42 times in the New Testament. Paul used this word more often than any writers (57% or 24 out of 42). The book of Romans accounts for the highest number of usage by Paul (79% or 19 out of 24). Romans chapter 4 contains the highest number of usage (46% or 11 out of 24).

    The Lexical Meaning of Logizomai are as follows:

    Louw-Nida Lexicon(1) :
    (a) Reason about – To think about something in a detailed and logical manner – ‘to think about, to reason about, to ponder, reasoning’
    (b) Keep Mental Record – To keep a mental record of events for the sake of some future action – ‘to keep a record, to remember, to bear in mind’
    (c) Hold a view – To hold a view or have an opinion with regard to something – ‘to hold a view, to have an opinion, to consider, to regard’
    (d) Charge to accounts – To keep records of commercial accounts, involving both debits and credits – ‘to put into one’s account, to charge one’s account, to regard as an account’

    Thayer’s Greek Lexicon(2):
    (a) (rationes conferre) to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over;
    a. to take into account, to make account of
    b. equivalent to number among, reckon with
    c. to reckon or account, and treat accordingly
    (b) (in animo rationes conferre) to reckon inwardly, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate
    (c) by reckoning up all the reasons to gather or infer
    a. to consider, take account, weigh, meditate on:
    b. to suppose, deem, judge
    c. to determine, purpose, decide

    The semantic range is wide from mere thinking, reminding, judging, keeping a mental record/list to crediting to one’s account. The act itself is a mental exercise. It always involves value judgments/opinions towards the contextual realities of the object. In most cases, four factors are involved when doing the act: (1) The one making the act, (2) the basis of the opinion, (3) the object of the act and (4) the conclusion (judgment/opinion) derived from the basis of the act. It should be noted that the falsity or validity of the judgement/opinion is dependent on the falsity or validity of the second factor, i.e. the falsity or validity of the basis of the opinion. That is why it should be highly emphasized that when analyzing the falsity or validity of the conclusion made, we get to know the context and reality of the reason (the why) of the conclusion. The context grounds the validity of the judgment/opinion. At times the basis is on the objective/inherent value of the object (3). At other times the basis are the abstract and contextual realities about the object. This is especially true as logizomai was used to translate the Hebrew word chasav (4).

    A little example might help showing the nuance of the word usage. Illustrations do not convey a perfect understanding but might help show some important points. One usage of the word will be like this: “I consider this worn out plastic toy to be valueless.” The act of “reckoning/considering” is grounded upon the inherent value of the toy. As it is worn out and it is just a plastic, it is in point of fact rubbish. But another usage will be like this: “I consider this worn out plastic toy to be priceless because this is mom’s precious gift to me.” This time, the “reckoning/considering” is grounded upon the contextual realities about the object not necessarily its inherent reality. It is true that the toy is rubbish (the beholder is not deceived but acknowledges its inherent reality) but it is also true that since this toy is a gift from his mom, that he considers it priceless (as against the inherent value as valueless). This example highlights the emphasis made previously. It is not necessarily wrong to assign a “conclusion” about the object that is not congruent to its inherent reality. In other words, as has been emphasized previously, the falsity or validity of the judgement/opinion is dependent on the falsity or validity of the second factor, i.e. the falsity or validity of the basis of the opinion as the beholder perceives it.

    Due to differences in semantic range between Hebrew and Greek, it is essential to be careful to see the context in which the word is utilized. For example, in the oft repeated quotation from O. Palmer’s scholarly work, “Genesis 15:6: New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text”, he notes:

    “As Genesis 15:6 records the first occurrence in scripture of the word “believed,” so it also records the first occurrence of the term “reckoned” (???). Yet the construction of the phrase and the subsequent usage of the term within the Pentateuch justifies a rather specific understanding in the sense of “account to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him.” The phraseology may not in itself exclude absolutely the possibility that the faith of Abraham was considered as his righteousness. But the context strongly pushes in another direction. The whole point is that Abraham trusts God rather than himself for his blessedness. His hope centers totally on God and his word for life.”

    These are not conclusions made out of the blue. In a cursory search of the exact Hebrew word form from Genesis 15:6, there were two occurrences that has that word form (one in Genesis and another outside of the Pentateuch):

    1. Genesis 38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.
    2. 1 Samuel 1:13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.

    In each of these occurrences (Genesis 38:15 and 1 Samuel 1:13), the acts of reckoning have basis grounded upon the contextual realities of the object as perceived by the beholder. Judah “reckoned” her a “prostitute” because in reality she had covered her face. Eli “reckoned” Hannah to be drunk because the contextual reality as perceived by Eli considered the facts as pointing to that conclusion (a. Speaking in her heart, c. Only her lips moved and c. Her voice was not heard). These acts of reckoning have basis upon the contextual realities and not merely the inherent realities of the objects of the act of reckoning. The Hebrew word chasav functions more to this effect than the strict objective reckoning of the Greek word logizomai dealing commonly with numbers and business transactions.

    The second occurrence of the Hebrew word chasav does not have the exact same form as in Genesis 15:6. But it is noteworthy again how it is used. This is in Genesis 31:15. The same word form occurs only in Job 18:3 and Psalm 44:23.
    1. Genesis 31:15 Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price.
    2. Job 18:3 Why are we regarded as beasts, As stupid in your eyes?
    3. Psalm 44:23 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

    In each of these passages, we know that the beholders (i.e. the ones making the judgment) are performing the act of reckoning not based upon the inherent reality of the object but their contextual reality. In that, even if the conclusion does not correspond to the inherent quality it is still perceived as such by the beholder without making his conclusions unacceptable. For example, Rachel and Leah are inherently Israelites but contextual realities made their father treat them as foreigners. We note that humans are not beasts (or cattle) but metaphorically speaking the speaker thought that humans are regarded as such because of their stupidity. The speaker in Psalm do not literally die “all day long” and they are not “sheep” in actual sense but in a metaphorical sense based on contextual realities, they are considered to have died (though still living) and reckoned to have a status of a “sheep to be slaughtered”.

    In Psalm 32:2 (Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit), the Hebrew word form utilized is the same as in Job 41:27, 41:24, Lev 17:4, 25:31, 2 Sam 19:20, Prov 17:28, Isa 29:16, 29:17, 32:15. Out of the 17 occurrences of the word form, only 5 (Psalm 36:5, 40:17, Prov 16:9, Isa 10:7 and Dan 11:24) has the unique Hebrew meaning of “plan, plotting, devising or thinking”. All others points to the context where the object takes a “conclusion” based upon its contextual reality and not its inherent reality. The “conclusion” may not be in congruence or correspond to the inherent reality of the object but because of contextual realities about the object, the conclusion is understandable (not absurd) and justified in the eyes of the beholder.

    In conclusion then, it is justified to say that the correct understanding of Genesis 15:6 in the sense of “account to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him” (as Robertson concluded) has strong contextual and linguistic basis.

    Having briefly explained the Greek and Hebrew semantic ranges and our conclusion regarding Genesis 15:6, we can now study how Paul utilized the word logizomai in Romans 4. I see Paul expanding the meaning of that word by incorporating the Hebrew and Greek sense of it.

    (As a side note: Nick always says that “logizomai” does not mean to “transfer”. As has been explained already (and I hope he gets the explanation), no one has said that “logizomai” has the meaning of “to transfer”. No one! And he will fail to cite scholars who do so. His failure to distinguish the theological concept from the lexical meaning confused his thinking process at this point. The theological concept may convey a “metaphorical transfer” of status whereby the beholder considers or reckons the “righteousness of the Messaiah” to be ours by faith. The concept of transfer is metaphorical in that it occurs only in the mind of the beholder. We don’t get to see “righteousness” floating around from one person to another. We do and can conceptually understand that the nature of “substitution” can be pictured out in our minds as a “transfer of status” whereby what Christ accomplished we accomplished although it was Christ who did it on the cross and his resurrection for us and in our behalf. Since, lexically the meaning of logizomai always involves a mental activity or judgment the theological expression conveying the picture of accounting books whereby the value of Christ’s sacrifice is transfered to our books (credited) is not a far fetch picture. It is not saying that logizomai includes in its semantic range the verb “to transfer” as words don’t have context and therefore lacks the whole picture of the concept. More to this point later.)

    [More to come]
    __________________________
    1 Louw Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. All references are taken from Bibleworks.
    2 Thayer Greek-English Lexicon. All references are taken from Bibleworks.
    3 The most attested meaning in the papyri (secular/classical) is in the context of a business or commercial usage such as numerical calculation or as a technical term in accounting “to charge to the account of, to credit” (with a personal dative it means to put something down to someone’s account). When the word is used not in business context, it is used in the context of rational thinking or conclusion. It still means to “calculate, consider, evaluate”. However, it involves conclusion by reasoning or inferring from given facts or circumstances.
    4 In all but five of its occurrences in the LXX, logizomai was used to represent the word chasav (other Heb words are: Haya (2 Sam 19:43); Manah (2 Chr 5:6; Iss 53:12); Qara (Deut 3:13); Shuv (Isa 44:19)). The Hebrew word chasav rarely denotes a reckoning in the commercial sense (contra the classical Gk usage). It is still a mental activity most frequently employing the meaning of “plan, devising and inventing” which are meanings not proper to the Greek semantic range. It is the Hebrew chasav which often employ the purely subjective thinking or the beholding of an object based on contextual or abstract (not essentially its inherent reality) realities about the object as the beholder perceives it (e.g. Gen 31:15, 1 Sam 1:13, Job 41:27, 29, Isa 5:28, 29:17, 40:15, 17; 53:4).

    1. Joey Henry says:
      August 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm
      The material is written in haste thus not edited.

      No problem, just don’t use that as an excuse after it is proven wrong. ; )

      But, this should suffice for now. I’ll continue looking at Romans 4 usage of logizomai in the next installment. This merely provides the background of the next installment:

      If you say so.

      Excurcus:

      Excurcus?

      Logizomai in Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4 …. (a) Reason about – To think about something in a detailed and logical manner – ‘to think about, to reason about, to ponder, reasoning’

      (b) Keep Mental Record – To keep a mental record of events for the sake of some future action – ‘to keep a record, to remember, to bear in mind’ …. (a) (rationes conferre) to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; a. to take into account, to make account of …. The semantic range is wide from mere thinking, reminding, judging, keeping a mental record/list to crediting to one’s account.

      Ok.

      The act itself is a mental exercise.

      Does God “logizomai”? And if He does, is it merely a mental exercise?

      It always involves value judgments/opinions towards the contextual realities of the object. In most cases, four factors are involved when doing the act: (1) The one making the act, (2) the basis of the opinion, (3) the object of the act and (4) the conclusion (judgment/opinion) derived from the basis of the act. It should be noted that the falsity or validity of the judgement/opinion is dependent on the falsity or validity of the second factor, i.e. the falsity or validity of the basis of the opinion. That is why it should be highly emphasized that when analyzing the falsity or validity of the conclusion made, we get to know the context and reality of the reason (the why) of the conclusion. The context grounds the validity of the judgment/opinion. At times the basis is on the objective/inherent value of the object (3). At other times the basis are the abstract and contextual realities about the object. This is especially true as logizomai was used to translate the Hebrew word chasav (4).

      All this is important if the Subject is a human being. The subject is the one performing the action. In this case it is God. Therefore none of the above is pertinent since God’s “logizomai” or “reckoning” is always perfect. Not only that, but God’s “logizomai” is always “efficacious”.

      A little example might help showing the nuance of the word usage. Illustrations do not convey a perfect understanding but might help show some important points. One usage of the word will be like this: “I consider this worn out plastic toy to be valueless.” The act of “reckoning/considering” is grounded upon the inherent value of the toy. As it is worn out and it is just a plastic, it is in point of fact rubbish. But another usage will be like this: “I consider this worn out plastic toy to be priceless because this is mom’s precious gift to me.” This time, the “reckoning/considering” is grounded upon the contextual realities about the object not necessarily its inherent reality. It is true that the toy is rubbish (the beholder is not deceived but acknowledges its inherent reality) but it is also true that since this toy is a gift from his mom, that he considers it priceless (as against the inherent value as valueless).

      Thank you. You have just proven the Catholic doctrine of the merit of our works.

      You see, God is the Judge. And God judges that our works have merit IN HIS EYES. Therefore, God imbues our works with merit. As was so eloquently spoken by St. Augustine, “What merit, then, does a man have before grace, by which he might receive grace, when our every good merit is produced in us only by grace, and, when God, crowning our merits, crowns nothing else but His own gifts to us? (Letters 194:5:19)”

      This example highlights the emphasis made previously. It is not necessarily wrong to assign a “conclusion” about the object that is not congruent to its inherent reality. In other words, as has been emphasized previously, the falsity or validity of the judgement/opinion is dependent on the falsity or validity of the second factor, i.e. the falsity or validity of the basis of the opinion as the beholder perceives it.

      This is irrelevant as there is no falsity when it comes to God’s “logizomai” (i.e. reckoning).

      Due to differences in semantic range between Hebrew and Greek, it is essential to be careful to see the context in which the word is utilized. For example, in the oft repeated quotation from O. Palmer’s scholarly work, “Genesis 15:6: New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text”, he notes:

      “As Genesis 15:6 records the first occurrence in scripture of the word “believed,” so it also records the first occurrence of the term “reckoned” (???). Yet the construction of the phrase and the subsequent usage of the term within the Pentateuch justifies a rather specific understanding in the sense of “account to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him.”

      1. Sounds to me as though this fellow is adding to Scripture. As Scrpture says, “reckon him righteous” but nowhere says, “which does not inherently belong to him”. You and Palmer are reading this into Scripture.

      2. Nor does it make sense. God is not unjust. God does not give to anyone that which is not due to that person. As it is written:

      Romans 3
      King James Version (KJV)
      5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
      6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
      The phraseology may not in itself exclude absolutely the possibility that the faith of Abraham was considered as his righteousness. But the context strongly pushes in another direction. The whole point is that Abraham trusts God rather than himself for his blessedness. His hope centers totally on God and his word for life.”

      That is true. But that is why Abraham works. Because his faith in God is so strong. And that is why God reckons him righteous. Because he acts upon his belief. He acts upon his faith in God.

      These are not conclusions made out of the blue. In a cursory search of the exact Hebrew word form from Genesis 15:6, there were two occurrences that has that word form (one in Genesis and another outside of the Pentateuch):

      1. Genesis 38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.
      2. 1 Samuel 1:13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.

      In each of these occurrences (Genesis 38:15 and 1 Samuel 1:13), the acts of reckoning have basis grounded upon the contextual realities of the object as perceived by the beholder.

      In both those cases the beholders are fallible men who were mistaken in their “logizomai”.

      Judah “reckoned” her a “prostitute” because in reality she had covered her face. Eli “reckoned” Hannah to be drunk because the contextual reality as perceived by Eli considered the facts as pointing to that conclusion (a. Speaking in her heart, c. Only her lips moved and c. Her voice was not heard). These acts of reckoning have basis upon the contextual realities and not merely the inherent realities of the objects of the act of reckoning. The Hebrew word chasav functions more to this effect than the strict objective reckoning of the Greek word logizomai dealing commonly with numbers and business transactions.

      So far, nothing to the point. How does any of this help you? It seems a multiplication of words to no purpose.

      The second occurrence of the Hebrew word chasav does not have the exact same form as in Genesis 15:6. But it is noteworthy again how it is used. This is in Genesis 31:15. The same word form occurs only in Job 18:3 and Psalm 44:23.
      1. Genesis 31:15 Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price.
      2. Job 18:3 Why are we regarded as beasts, As stupid in your eyes?
      3. Psalm 44:23 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

      In each of these passages, we know that the beholders (i.e. the ones making the judgment) are performing the act of reckoning not based upon the inherent reality of the object but their contextual reality.

      But again, the comparison is unproductive. Does God judge falsely, in your opinion?

      In that, even if the conclusion does not correspond to the inherent quality it is still perceived as such by the beholder without making his conclusions unacceptable. For example, Rachel and Leah are inherently Israelites but contextual realities made their father treat them as foreigners. We note that humans are not beasts (or cattle) but metaphorically speaking the speaker thought that humans are regarded as such because of their stupidity. The speaker in Psalm do not literally die “all day long” and they are not “sheep” in actual sense but in a metaphorical sense based on contextual realities, they are considered to have died (though still living) and reckoned to have a status of a “sheep to be slaughtered”.

      And that is the difference between Protestants and Catholics. When God reckoned Abraham righteous, Protestants believe it is a metaphorical righteousness. Whereas we believe that God Himself reckons righteously and perfectly without error. That’s the difference and explains why Luther said that we become “snow covered dung heaps.”

      I said before that our righteousness is dung in the sight of God. Now if God chooses to adorn dung, he can do so (Luther’s Works, Vol. 34, page 184).

      In Psalm 32:2 (Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit), the Hebrew word form utilized is the same as in Job 41:27, 41:24, Lev 17:4, 25:31, 2 Sam 19:20, Prov 17:28, Isa 29:16, 29:17, 32:15. Out of the 17 occurrences of the word form, only 5 (Psalm 36:5, 40:17, Prov 16:9, Isa 10:7 and Dan 11:24) has the unique Hebrew meaning of “plan, plotting, devising or thinking”. All others points to the context where the object takes a “conclusion” based upon its contextual reality and not its inherent reality.

      Great example. If you remain consistent, then you believe that God metaphorically considers this man righteous. Whereas, we believe God actually counts this man righteous.

      In other words, we believe God looked at the man’s soul and found neither iniquity nor deceit therein. Whereas, you believe God looked in that man’s soul and found iniquity and deceit therein and closed His eyes to it.

      The “conclusion” may not be in congruence or correspond to the inherent reality of the object but because of contextual realities about the object, the conclusion is understandable (not absurd) and justified in the eyes of the beholder.

      The beholder is God in this case. God sees the heart of a man.

      In conclusion then, it is justified to say that the correct understanding of Genesis 15:6 in the sense of “account to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him” (as Robertson concluded) has strong contextual and linguistic basis.

      If you believe that you can compare human judgement to God’s.

      Having briefly explained the Greek and Hebrew semantic ranges and our conclusion regarding Genesis 15:6, we can now study how Paul utilized the word logizomai in Romans 4. I see Paul expanding the meaning of that word by incorporating the Hebrew and Greek sense of it.

      Thanks for all of this. It is a textbook example of the difference between Catholic exegesis and Protestant. It is the reason why Scripture says:

      2 Corinthians 3:6
      King James Version (KJV)
      6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

      You are focusing on the letter of the word without even taking a second to consider that the SUBJECT of the phrase in question, is God.

      (As a side note: Nick always says that “logizomai” does not mean to “transfer”. As has been explained already (and I hope he gets the explanation), no one has said that “logizomai” has the meaning of “to transfer”. No one! And he will fail to cite scholars who do so.

      I don’t know who is lying then, because this is documented in the OP:

      Imputation is relatively simple concept, despite the term itself being somewhat outdated. Reformed pastor and writer Dr Joel Beeke explains the concept as follows:

      Imputation signifies to credit something to someone’s account by transfer, i.e. God transfers the perfect righteousness of Christto the elect sinner as a gracious gift, and transfers all of the sinner’s unrighteousness to Christ who has paid the full price of satisfaction for that unrighteousness. (Justification by Faith Alone)

      Concurring with this definition, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church issued an important “Report on Justification”in 2006, stating,

      “We need to be reckoned or accounted (logizomai) as righteous in God’s sight and imputation is the way that we as a confessional church understand the Scriptures to speak of that transfer of righteousness(cf. WLC 71)” (p74).

      That is in the very first paragraph after the subheading, “What is imputation?”

      His failure to distinguish the theological concept from the lexical meaning confused his thinking process at this point…..

      I don’t think so. So far, it seems to me that you have multiplied words and confused yourself. Your efforts remain self contradicting.

      The theological concept may convey a “metaphorical transfer” of status whereby the beholder considers or reckons the “righteousness of the Messaiah” to be ours by faith.

      Case in point right there. First you say it is not about “transfer”. Then you say, “metaphorical transfer”.

      The concept of transfer is metaphorical in that it occurs only in the mind of the beholder.

      In this case, the beholder is God. You know, the One “in whom we live, move and are”, THAT God (Acts 17:28).

      We don’t get to see “righteousness” floating around from one person to another.

      Because there is no such transferrence. God sees what is actually going on in every man’s heart, all at the same time. He is just that powerful.

      We do and can conceptually understand that the nature of “substitution” can be pictured out in our minds as a “transfer of status” whereby what Christ accomplished we accomplished although it was Christ who did it on the cross and his resurrection for us and in our behalf.

      There you go again, contradicting yourself. No one has said that “substitution” is transference. Except you.

      Since, lexically the meaning of logizomai always involves a mental activity or judgment the theological expression conveying the picture of accounting books whereby the value of Christ’s sacrifice is transfered to our books (credited) is not a far fetch picture.

      And again, now transferring Christ’s sacrifice to our books.

      It is not saying that logizomai includes in its semantic range the verb “to transfer” as words don’t have context and therefore lacks the whole picture of the concept. More to this point later.)

      Joe, you are simply confusing yourself and attempting to confuse us. It would be more honest if you simply said to Nick, “You’re right.” The only way to accept your teaching is to transfer upon it some logic and metaphorically claim it is true.

      But it isn’t and I won’t.

      [More to come]

      Ok. God willing, I’ll be here.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  45. I appreciated your careful and scholarly explanation of “imputed ” . NowI would like to ask you what is the practical applications of utilizing a ” imputed” vs an ” infused” model what Christ does in the believer ?

    At first glance when a doctrinal matter is examined and different interpretations are offered , it is not immediately obvious ” what is the big deal ? ” , at least not obvious , to those not as theologically equipped as myself . But , in this instance I would greatly want to understand ” what is riding on getting this correct ?” I realize you are saying , ” see the Protestants got this wrong …..so , who you gonna believe now ?” I got that part but beyond that why is this ” imputed / infused” issue important ?

    I need some help.

    Thank you ,

    don

    1. Hello Don,

      You asked, “What’s the big deal about imputation?”

      That’s a good question to ask. The “big deal” is not so much that Catholics cannot think of different ways to explain how God saves, but rather because Protestants tore apart God’s Church and brought Christendom to ruin all over the world because they claimed Imputation was so crucial that it was worth dividing the Church to proclaim it. If it can be shown that Imputation is totally bankrupt and not found in Scripture, then the Reformation is totally debunked and can only be seen as a abominable schismatic act. The only man standing at that point is the same man standing before Luther came along, the Catholic Church.

      When the difference between Imputation and Infusion are examined theologically, one can see how many other serious errors flow from Imputation as well, such as the claim that Jesus was damned to hellfire in place of the believer and that man’s salvation is “Eternally Secure” such that even if he unfortunately falls into grave sin his salvation is none-the-less secure. Such things amount to preaching “a different Gospel” that Paul warned about in Galatians 1:8, that he also called “anathema”.

    2. Hi Don,

      I agree with Nick, but my perspective is a bit different.

      don says:
      October 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm
      I appreciated your careful and scholarly explanation of “imputed ” . NowI would like to ask you what is the practical applications of utilizing a ” imputed” vs an ” infused” model what Christ does in the believer ?

      First, I’m not sure whether you intended to say what I’m reading. My answer to your question according to the way you said it, we, Catholics find no application (I.e. no merit) in utilizing the Protestant “imputed” model over the Catholic “infused” model.

      Why?

      Because the imputed model:
      1. Contradicts other Protestant doctrines. According to Protestant doctrine, “grace is irresistible”. Yet, grace can seemingly do nothing for the sinner. The sinner can’t become truly righteous according to the grace given to Him by God. He must be covered over with the righteousness of Christ.

      2. Makes God a liar. When God rules that someone is righteous, it becomes a “legal fiction”. God, who can see a man’s heart, does not rule according to what is truly in the man’s heart, but declares the unrighteous man to be righteous.

      3. Makes God weak. God, who created the universe with a word, when He declares a man just, that man, according to this doctrine, does not become just.

      The “infusion” model is precisely the opposite:
      1. It does not contradict any Catholic doctrines but fits perfectly in the Catholic understanding of the Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of God.

      2. Confirms that God does not lie. When God judges a man righteous, it is because that man has BY FAITH become righteous by striving to keep God’s commandments and persevering in well doing.

      3. It also shows forth the efficacy of the grace of God, which was freely given to the man and which brought about the man’s conversion.

      4. Shows forth the power of God because justification is the work of God. In justification, it is God who, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, washes and regenerates the faithful man’s soul.

      At this point, I refer you to Nick’s response.

      At first glance when a doctrinal matter is examined and different interpretations are offered , it is not immediately obvious ” what is the big deal ? ” , at least not obvious , to those not as theologically equipped as myself . But , in this instance I would greatly want to understand ” what is riding on getting this correct ?” I realize you are saying , ” see the Protestants got this wrong …..so , who you gonna believe now ?” I got that part but beyond that why is this ” imputed / infused” issue important ?

      The big deal for me is that one of those doctrines is true and therefore from God. And the other is false and therefore from the Enemy.

      I personally don’t see how anyone can believe the imputation model. Luther, the author of that doctrine, summarized it this way:

      I said before that our righteousness is dung in the sight of God. Now if God chooses to adorn dung, he can do so (Luther’s Works, Vol. 34, page 184).

      Really? God wants to adorn “dung”? I’ll stick with the Catholic Teaching, thank you very much.

      I need some help.

      I hope that helped.

      Thank you ,

      don

      You’re welcome,

      De Maria

      1. De Maria and Nick:

        Thanks to your replies I feel I now do have a much better grasp of these two terms . Most importantly I now understand the difference indeed is ” a really big deal ” .

        Your explanations explain why in Protestant circles I never get a sense of the urgency to confess ones sins after one has been saved . Please do not misunderstand in no way am I saying Protestants do not care about sinfulness once saved , it just does not seem to have the same relevancy and urgency to the ” believer” once saved, as it very obviously does to Catholics ( thinking Confession , penance , etc. ) .

        It seems , with Protestants, personal acts of sin are of most concern at the stage of initial repentance , or what is termed ” accepting Jesus as your personal Saviour “.

        Thank you both again.

        don

        1. Actually Don, I like your answer better than mine or Nick’s. I think you go directly to the point. If I had it to do over again, I would say it more like you.

          When you asked, “what is riding on getting this correct ?” I should have responded. “Salvation.”

          Sincerely,

          De Maria

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