We return to our review of Mark A. Seifrid’s Christ: our Righteousness. We had cited the following from page 176:

In raising the foregoing criticism, we are touching upon problems which attend Protestant placement of justification within in an ‘order of salvation’ (ordo salutis). According to Paul, ‘justification’ has to do with Christ’s cross and resurrection for us “the whole of salvation” and therefore cannot be reduced to an event which takes place for the individual at the beginning of the Christian life. The problem deepens when ‘justification’ is made to follow ‘regeneration’, a sequence which was constructed in order to allow for the response of faith prior to the justification of the individual. In this case, the limitation of the justifying event to the act of faith threatens to diminish the significance of the cross. If justification occurs only upon my believing (or being regenerated), we must conclude that the cross creates the precondition for justification, but not its reality. Indeed, when faith (or regeneration) is given this independent role, the cross appears as an arbitrary means by which God has chosen to justify humanity. Paul, in contrast, locates justification wholly in Christ — and yet makes justification contingent upon faith (see 2 Cor. 5:21; cf. Rom. 3:22, 25). Christ’s cross and resurrection are the whole of justification, but that justification must be ‘distributed’ through preaching and faith: God reconciled the world to himself through Christ, and yet has committed the ‘word of reconciliation’ to the apostles (2 Cor. 5:19). As we have seen, faith for Paul is nothing more than ‘hearing’ the good news, the reception of that already accomplished and given, a mirror-reflection of the word of promise (Gal. 3:1-5; Rom. 10:14-17). Consequently, if we reduce the dimensions of justification to an ‘order of salvation’ constructed around the human being we distort Paul’s message.

We have already noted Seifrid’s dislike of the ordo salutis. But can one truly escape from some form of order without destroying the application of the work of Christ to the individual? We are time-bound beings, and while that does not mean God is limited by our creatureliness, redemption is, in fact, something that is applied to creatures. We experience it. As such, we can properly speak of at the very least a logical order, can we not? But we should also consider the result of abandoning any ordo at all. Seifrid writes, “According to Paul, ‘justification’ has to do with Christ’s cross and resurrection for us “the whole of salvation” and therefore cannot be reduced to an event which takes place for the individual at the beginning of the Christian life.” It is quite true that all parts of God’s salvific work are related. It is quite true that the cross and the resurrection are the touchstone of every aspect of salvation. It is true that justification does not exist apart from, in isolation from, all the rest of salvation. But, all of these things do not mean that justification, or the verb, “to justify,” is a synonym for “the whole of salvation.” It is self-evident that in many key passages the dikaio- family refers not to sanctification, not to some over-arching salvific concept, but to a specific, forensic act of God whereby He brings peace into existence between Himself and the one who has faith in the God who justifies. It is true justification as an entire concept cannot be reduced to a singular event at the beginning of the Christian life. However, it is just as true (and this is a vital point) that the Bible teaches us that one is justified by faith in Christ by faith; that we can look back upon this justification, so that we are “justified,” and that because of this past-tense justification we have, as a present possession, peace with God.

Update 12/30/2014: This review eventually became a major series of posts. For those interested in reading the entire series in order I post the links below. RP

Dr. Seifrid on Imputation July 9, 2004
More in Response to Southern Seminary Professor’s Denial of Imputed Righteousness July 9, 2004
Continuing Review of Mark Seifrid’s Views on the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness July 11, 2004
An Interesting Expansion in the LBCF, 1689 July 27, 2004
The Abstract of Principles on Justification July 30, 2004
The Imputation Controversy August 25, 2004
Imputation Controversy #2 August 26, 2004
Why I Care About “Christ, our Righteousness” August 28, 2004
Imputation Controversy #3 August 30, 2004
Southern Seminary and Dr. Mark Seifrid September 4, 2004
A Response to Southern Seminary and Dr. Mark Seifrid September 4, 2004
Listen to Today’s DL for a Full Discussion of the SBTS/Seifrid/Imputation Issue September 7, 2004
From the 1994 WTJ September 7, 2004
A Word of Rebuke to the Firebrands September 8, 2004
And Verily It Got Nuttier September 11, 2004
Yes, I Have a Copy, Thank You September 13, 2004
An Open Letter to Dr. Mark Seifrid (Part 1) September 14, 2004
Seifrid Response, Part II September 15, 2004
Seifrid Response, Part III September 18, 2004
Open Letter to Mark Seifrid, Part IV September 21, 2004
Open Letter to Mark Seifrid, Part V October 2, 2004
If I Misrepresented Dr. Seifrid, then…. December 3, 2004

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