Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
"Mere" Imputed Righteousness and Other Stuff
12/11/2009 - James White
I have been away this week attempting to do some studying on various topics, and writing on projects that I have simply not been able to get to while at home. I am working on a chapter in response to Frank Beckwith's arguments in denial of sola fide, and I am also working on the expansion of the book refuting Harold Camping. Here is a brief snippet from what I've been able to get written on both of these topics.
There are two regular statements by Roman Catholic apologists and polemicists that truly gall me. The first is when they attempt to defend notoriously unbiblical beliefs (such as the Marian dogmas) through the grossly deceptive parallel to the divine doctrine of the Trinity. Such a blasphemous form of argumentation is worthy of the judgment it will bring upon its practitioners, to be sure. But the second common argument involves the straw-man caricaturization of the doctrine of justification as a “mere legal fiction” or, as Beckwith repeats it, “mere imputed righteousness.” Any man who claims to have once been a true evangelical who can then turn around and thusly describe his former beliefs plainly never believed the gospel I believe. Every fiber of honesty would have to be removed from my being for me to be able to describe the hope of my soul, the anchor of my salvation, as “mere imputed righteousness.” The very term “mere” is blasphemously shallow, for we are talking about the imputed righteousness of the incarnate God-man Jesus, the Messiah, whose free and purposeful self-giving is intimately tied not only to His perfect life and sinlessness, but to His role as High Priest, Intercessor, Mediator, and therefore the one who is able “to save completely all of those who draw near to God by means of Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). The use of “mere” in such a context is clearly meant to be deceptive and demeaning, and as such is unworthy of any truth-loving person.
Yes, yes, I know. I left my politically correct, post-modern filter at home. And on to Camping:
Mr. Camping has adopted a whole new array of false teachings, all of which demonstrate the central error that has driven him for decades now: a trenchant, stubborn unwillingness to submit to the Word of God by interpreting it in a meaningful, consistent fashion. All the while claiming careful allegiance to the biblical text, Harold Camping’s refusal to utilize any meaningful method of interpretation has led him, and his followers, farther and farther into error. No aspect of the Christian faith is safe once the firm foundation of an unchanging and meaningfully interpreted text is abandoned. It is not overly surprising that Camping has abandoned a belief in eternal, conscious punishment of the wicked. This is a very distasteful belief, and apart from a close connection to divine revelation and an understanding of the holiness of God, many find ways of jettisoning that particular doctrine. But his idiosyncratic teaching that Jesus actually died twice, once in eternity past, and once as a memorial upon the cross in time, is truly an eisegetical novum, proving that his connection to the text of the Bible, and to the teachings of the Christian faith of the past, is completely severed. All he has left is his own system, his own authority as a teacher, and that is surely not a sound foundation.
As to my reading, yesterday I spent some time on the "fig tree" synoptic parallels issue between Matthew and Mark, working through a lengthy and excellent paper submitted by one of my students, and I am taking a very serious look at the arguments in favor of the Byzantine text platform as enunciated by Maurice Robinson. His recently published article on the NA27 as a "test-tube text" without any historical manuscript witness is very challenging, and given that unbelieving textual critical scholarship has in essence completely abandoned the field (Ehrman being a good example) one is left wondering. It is good to think through such challenges fairly and honestly.
Don't forget that, Lord willing, we will be back to our regular DL schedule next week!
Oh, really enjoyed John MacArthur's no-holds-barred blast of the travesty that is TBN.