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Continuing the Christian Life: Jesus’ “It is finished” and Edwards on Active Obedience

16 November, 2007

b and lilyI help out with a weekly evangelistic/beginning discipleship meeting at my church, as one of the leaders of discussion groups which discuss the talks given every week out of Mark’s gospel on various Christian themes–Christ’s identity, his mission, our response, etc. This Thursday, though, the talk was from John: Jesus’ last words on the cross, “It is finished” (19:30).

What was great about this text for this week is that we weren’t looking at the topic of Jesus’ death for our sins, but ‘Continuing as a Christian.’ “It is finished” was the theme for the talk on the ongoing Christian life–which I thought was a phenomenal choice, and so powerful.

In our pilgrimage, we face hardship and persecution from the devil, the world, and our own sinfulness, and we fall flat on our face sometimes when we’re ‘continuing as a Christian.’ But it is such a huge burden lifted from our shoulders that Christ’s words of completion are just as true of the righteous life he lived on our behalf as they are of the righteous death he suffered in our place. If we think of ‘It is finished’ as applying only to the punishment of sins, which is over and done with at the cross, and not applying to the ongoing struggles (and even successes!) of our walk with our Lord, we will become either desperate or self-righteous: desperate because we aren’t good enough Christians, or self-righteous because we think we are good enough Christians.

Along these lines (although not specifically about John 19), I found a great excerpt from Johnathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards on the importance of Christ’s active obedience, his righteous law-keeping on our behalf, and how it ties in to Paul’s discussion of Jesus as the faithful Second Adam. His discussion is tightly packed, but edifying–definitely worth mulling over:

There is the very same need of Christ’s obeying the law in our stead, in order to the reward, as of his suffering the penalty of the law in our stead, in order to our escaping the penalty, and the same reason why one should be accepted on our account, as the other.

There is the same need of one as the other, that the law of God might be answered: one was as requisite to answer the law as the other. It is certain, that was the reason why there was need that Christ should suffer the penalty for us, even that the law might be answered. For this the Scripture plainly teaches. This is given as the reason why Christ was made a curse for us, that the law threatened a curse to us, Gal. 3:10, 13. But the same law that fixes the curse of God as the consequence of not continuing in all things written in the law to do them (verse 10) has as much fixed doing those things as an antecedent of living in them (as verse 12). There is as much connection established in one case as in the other.

There is therefore exactly the same need, from the law, of perfect obedience being fulfilled in order to our obtaining the reward, as there is of death being suffered in order to our escaping the punishment, or the same necessity by the law, of perfect obedience preceding life, as there is of disobedience being succeeded by death. The law is, without doubt, as much of an established rule in one case as in the other.

Christ by suffering the penalty, and so making atonement for us, only removes the guilt of our sins, and so sets us in the same state that Adam was in the first moment of his creation, and it is no more fit that we should obtain eternal life only on that account, than that Adam should have the reward of eternal life, or of a confirmed and unalterable state of happiness, the first moments of his existence, without any obedience at all. Adam was not to have the reward merely on account of his being innocent. If [that were] so, he would have had it fixed upon him at once, as soon as ever he was created, for he was as innocent then as he could be. But he was to have the reward on account of his active obedience: not on account merely of his not having done ill, but on account of his doing well.

So on the same account we have not eternal life merely as void of guilt, which we have by the atonement of Christ, but on the account of Christ’s active obedience, and doing well. – Christ is our second federal head, and is called the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:22), because he acted that part for us, which the first Adam should have done….

God saw meet to place man first in a state of trial, and not to give him a title to eternal life as soon as he had made him, because it was his will that he should first give honor to his authority, by fully submitting to it, in will and act, and perfectly obeying his law. God insisted upon it, that his holy majesty and law should have their due acknowledgment and honor from man, such as became the relation he stood in to that Being who created him, before he would bestow the reward of confirmed and everlasting happiness upon him. Therefore God gave him a law that he might have opportunity, by giving due honor to his authority in obeying it, to obtain this happiness.

It therefore became Christ – seeing that, in assuming man to himself, he sought a title to this eternal happiness for him after he had broken the law – that he himself should become subject to God’s authority, and be in the form of a servant, that he might do that honor to God’s authority for him, by his obedience, which God at first required of man as the condition of his having a title to that reward. Christ came into the world to render the honor of God’s authority and law consistent with the salvation and eternal life of sinners. He came to save them, and yet withal to assert and vindicate the honor of the lawgiver, and his holy law….

Jesus didn’t save us from punishment and then leave us on our own to earn it or prove ourselves worthy of it by being good enough at ‘living the Christian life.’ Jesus does away with such half-measures, and such half-righteousness, because there is no such thing. But in doing away with these, he brings in true faith, true confidence, and a true beginning and continuance of faithfulness in our pilgrimage. Our salvation is ‘finished’; it’s utterly complete and secured by the one who accomplished all, intercedes for us even now, and has given us his Spirit as a guarantee. We are so fickle, but he is so faithful, and we must rely on the Spirit to grant us the faith to continually look outside ourselves to the one who has accomplished all on our behalf.

Christ is all our righteousness, even (especially!) the righteousness required of us as Christians living before God in the present evil age.

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13 Comments
  1. thegranitecity permalink
    30 November, -0001 12:00 am

    Perry~

    The being of God cannot be separated from any of the attributes of his being. So we can’t say that Moses partook of God’s essential glory or the saints partake of God’s essential immortality–only God has God’s own attributes. Only God is exactly who he is and all he is, and that isn’t shared with anyone else. If ‘nominal’ participation means that we don’t have God’s own attributes, but we participate in his characteristics as creatures as his image-bearers and by grace, then ‘nominal’ is just fine with me. On the other hand, a ‘created effect’ that is ‘nominal’ is a pretty thin way to describe such things, in my opinion–but for you, imputational-covenantal categories may be inherently ‘thin’.

    Have you ever read the section on justification in Calvin’s institutes when he argues at length against Osiander? I think that would be a good place to go for this, because Osiander also argued that what we get in justification is the essential divine righteousness of God, and because Calvin deals so thoroughly with the problems with Osiander’s views. If you don’t share Calvin’s basic ontological assumptions, however, you may not find him convincing.

    I think Christ’s work is the foundational issue here–what are our views of who Christ is and what he came to do? If you start from the basic notion that the eternal Son of God VOLUNTARILY took up our humanity for the purposes of redeeming us from the just condemnation we brought upon ourselves by voluntary disobedience, by accomplishing all the righteousness on our behalf that Adam was supposed to but failed to secure — a ‘2 Adams’ model — then concerns with adoptionism and pelagianism are non-starters.

    But your Christological statements seem much more in line with an Eastern model, in which Adam had the goal of ‘growing up into’ everlasting life in participation in the divine life, and that is our goal too, only we need the grace of God which flows from Christ’s work to secure for us the help of the Spirit in enabling us to accomplish this always increasing but never ending participation in the divine life.

    I appreciate the ‘eschatological thrust’ of Eastern theology immensely, although it’s no more so than confessional Reformed theology–but to the extent that Reformational traditions have lost sight of the thoroughgoingly eschatological orientation of both Adam’s existence and Christ’s accomplishment, they have not been true to their roots. Secondly, I appreciate the essence-energies paradigm (which if you do hold it, I don’t think you’re upholding it very consistently in your comments), insofar as the West has traditionally worked on a univocity vs. equivocity paradigm, an analogical paradigm of being and knowing is much more biblical–although, again, I think the Reformed have done a very good job at being thoroughly analogical in their theology.

    At the end of the day, though, I think an Eastern Christology is ultimately unsatisfactory (at least for me) because it repeats the age-old Eastern and Western, pre- and post-Reformation problem of drawing a more or less straight line from Adam’s pre-fall state to us-right-now as Christians. To put it crudely, Jesus then becomes the way to facilitate our own doing what Adam should have done. Even many Protestants have taken this view, more or less consistently.

    I don’t think the Bible (or classical Protestantism, Lutheran or Reformed) teaches that Jesus’ person and work were for the purpose of helping us to accomplish by God’s grace our destiny in Adam–I think Jesus himself accomplished our destiny in Adam and transformed it in doing so–so we’re no longer in Adam, but in Christ. We’re not all second Adams, he is the one Second and Last Adam on our behalf. That’s not ‘nominal’ to me, but the power of God unto salvation.

    Does this get at the differences or not?

    ~B

  2. 17 November, 2007 10:28 pm

    you’re a great editor holmes.

  3. 18 November, 2007 8:06 am

    Is your church doing Christianity Explored? We just finished it up here in Portland, OR.

  4. creedorchaos permalink*
    19 November, 2007 9:15 am

    Keith~

    Yep. It has several things I’d tweak, but it’s generally quite good. It helps when the meals are as good as we’ve had!

  5. 19 November, 2007 9:39 am

    I agree!

  6. 19 November, 2007 5:43 pm

    Our salvation is ‘finished’; it’s utterly complete and secured by the one who accomplished all, intercedes for us even now, and has given us his Spirit as a guarantee…..Amen….I am so unfaithful…He is faithful…Amen

  7. 19 November, 2007 8:00 pm

    Here is what I don’t understand. Why can’t I have Christ’s actual righteousness that he possesses as a divine person? Why is the righteousness given to me a created and merited object?

  8. creedorchaos permalink*
    20 November, 2007 11:43 am

    Perry~

    The most straightforward answer is that we have Christ’s mediatorial righteousness–we have the righteousness he voluntary undertook to accomplish on our behalf as our faithful second Adam.

    Righteousness, as an attribute of God, is not something we can ‘get’–it’s like his omniscience or self-existence or perfect mercifulness. We don’t get the Son of God’s proper divine righteousness (which is not ours to have, and would condemn and destroy us instantly if we even glanced upon it anyway!), we get the incarnate Son of God’s earned human righteousness as our mediator and redeemer. And I wouldn’t say it’s an ‘object’ as in a ‘thing’–it is a legal-covenantal reality more real than any ‘thing’.

    Does that help? We don’t need ‘Godstuff’, we need God’s gracious favor, in sending someone to suffer in our place and someone to live how we should have lived in faithfulness. We need Jesus.

    ~B

  9. 20 November, 2007 3:50 pm

    COC,

    I understand that that is the theory, but what I want to know is why I can’t have God’s intrinsic righteosness. Why do I have to settle for a created effect? A righteousness like God’s as it were?

    If Moses can partake of God’s actual glory and the saints in the resurrection God’s actual immortality, why can’t it also be the case for God’s actual righteousness? Is God’s glory merely nominal as well? It certainly doesn’t seem so in Scripture so why the disconnect? And if Christ’s humanity can partake of Christ’s actual righteousness of his divine person why can’t we? I am afraid I don’t see it.

    The idea of Christ meriting favor seems either like adoptionism or just relocating pelagianism.

  10. creedorchaos permalink*
    21 November, 2007 3:17 am

    Perry~

    The being of God cannot be separated from any of the attributes of his being. So we can’t say that Moses partook of God’s essential glory or the saints partake of God’s essential immortality–only God has God’s own attributes. Only God is exactly who he is and all he is, and that isn’t shared with anyone else. If ‘nominal’ participation means that we don’t have God’s own attributes, but we participate in his characteristics as creatures as his image-bearers and by grace, then ‘nominal’ is just fine with me. On the other hand, a ‘created effect’ that is ‘nominal’ is a pretty thin way to describe such things, in my opinion–but for you, imputational-covenantal categories may be inherently ‘thin’.

    Have you ever read the section on justification in Calvin’s institutes when he argues at length against Osiander? I think that would be a good place to go for this, because Osiander also argued that what we get in justification is the essential divine righteousness of God, and because Calvin deals so thoroughly with the problems with Osiander’s views. If you don’t share Calvin’s basic ontological assumptions, however, you may not find him convincing.

    I think Christ’s work is the foundational issue here–what are our views of who Christ is and what he came to do? If you start from the basic notion that the eternal Son of God VOLUNTARILY took up our humanity for the purposes of redeeming us from the just condemnation we brought upon ourselves by voluntary disobedience, by accomplishing all the righteousness on our behalf that Adam was supposed to but failed to secure — a ‘2 Adams’ model — then concerns with adoptionism and pelagianism are non-starters.

    But your Christological statements seem much more in line with an Eastern model, in which Adam had the goal of ‘growing up into’ everlasting life in participation in the divine life, and that is our goal too, only we need the grace of God which flows from Christ’s work to secure for us the help of the Spirit in enabling us to accomplish this always increasing but never ending participation in the divine life.

    I appreciate the ‘eschatological thrust’ of Eastern theology immensely, although it’s no more so than confessional Reformed theology–but to the extent that Reformational traditions have lost sight of the thoroughgoingly eschatological orientation of both Adam’s existence and Christ’s accomplishment, they have not been true to their roots. Secondly, I appreciate the essence-energies paradigm (which if you do hold it, I don’t think you’re upholding it very consistently in your comments), insofar as the West has traditionally worked on a univocity vs. equivocity paradigm, an analogical paradigm of being and knowing is much more biblical–although, again, I think the Reformed have done a very good job at being thoroughly analogical in their theology.

    At the end of the day, though, I think an Eastern Christology is ultimately unsatisfactory (at least for me) because it repeats the age-old Eastern and Western, pre- and post-Reformation problem of drawing a more or less straight line from Adam’s pre-fall state to us-right-now as Christians. To put it crudely, Jesus then becomes the way to facilitate our own doing what Adam should have done. Even many Protestants have taken this view, more or less consistently.

    I don’t think the Bible (or classical Protestantism, Lutheran or Reformed) teaches that Jesus’ person and work were for the purpose of helping us to accomplish by God’s grace our destiny in Adam–I think Jesus himself accomplished our destiny in Adam and transformed it in doing so–so we’re no longer in Adam, but in Christ. We’re not all second Adams, he is the one Second and Last Adam on our behalf. That’s not ‘nominal’ to me, but the power of God unto salvation.

    Does this get at the differences or not?

    ~B

  11. 21 November, 2007 8:45 am

    Thanks for the response. I am not clear on why you think participation requires separation. If it did, I don’t know why we’d call it participation. Why can’t we have God’s glory, immortality, etc. “on loan” or derivatively? Certainly this seems to be what Peter has in mind 2 pet 1:4. And I am not clear on how you are using the term “being” since people use that in lots of ways. Perhaps you just mean the divine essence.

    By nominal I mean a mere name which is extrinsically related to the object to which it names. The name picks out no property of the object to ground it but is applied to the object strictly on the basis of some agent willing it to be so named. Such a relation seems too thin to accommodate the biblical language and looks rather strained. Moses and Christ’s humanity weren’t merely so named as “glorified” but were in fact so that it was visible to the human eye.

    As for created effects, if our righteousness is merited by Christ, then it is created. It certainly isn’t uncreated or eternal, which would make it the righteousness that Christ possesses intrinsically(Jn 17:5, 22), which is what you seem to be denying. There doesn’t seem to be any third category between created and eternal so if it isn’t eternal, its created. If its created by the divine will, then it isn’t a cause, so it must be an effect.
    Nominal participation seems too thin to accommodate the biblical data such as the glorification of Moses and the humanity of Christ. Consequently the schema of imputation seems too thin.

    Yes I have read the Institutes. But I am not at the point of advocating something like what Osiander had in mind, but of looking for the reasons as to why the relationship between God and humanity has to be extrinsic and created. The root seems to be located in theology proper, namely the doctrine of God. But I am not clear on what it is exactly in the doctrine of God that precludes us sharing in God’s glory, power, immortality, righteousness, etc.

    I think the volitional activity of Christ with respect to redemption needs to be stronger than voluntarily since one can perform actions that are voluntary but not free. I think the foundational issue is not Christ’s work but the hypostatic union, for if we can’t share in his actual righteousness, then it seems that the union between the two natures in Christ is extrinsic, volitional and not hypostatic and that seems like a significant problem. Christ’s humanity can’t be glorified with the divine glory, which would ground the rejection for thinking that we can’t either.

    I suppose we read Romans 5 differently. Adoptionism takes it to be the case that Christ qua perfect man accomplishes and merits divine pleasure for us and Pelagianism takes it to be the case that Adam was intrinsically righteous, both of which seem to be significant constituents of your model. Pelagianism just is the idea that nature and grace are identical so that humans only need a good example after the fall since nature is not altered in the fall. Both systems agree that Christ is the 2nd Adam, so there must be something more that you think precludes adoptionism and pelagianism. Moreover, if the value of Christ’s merit depends on God’s decree to accept it as meritorious and not on its intrinsic value, which is why it can be imputed to others on the very same basis, I can’t see why it is necessary for you to believe that the substitute need be a divine person.

    My only point with the COW was that the idea that obedience was necessary and ordered to a specific end doesn’t logically imply the COW since it is logically possible that it could imply some other kind of relation such as that of which the Easterners admit. The relation between obedience to an end doesn’t exclusively pick out the relation of merit to payment. We’d need some exegetical reason for thinking that it does.

    I am not clear on why would think anything I wrote would be inconsistent with the essence/energies distinction. Please clarify.

    The West has used the three categories of univocal, equivocal and analogical because of its Platonic heritage from Augustine. This is the main reason it seems why the Reformed need some other kind of righteousness and glory than God’s glory. Via Thomas, creatures are analogous to God via their pluralized perfections, which exist in God simply and for Scotus that creatures are analogous to God because they are on the same scale of being it is just that God’s being is of the highest intensity of being, where being means esse or activity. For Thomas and Scotus as well, our righteousness is merited and created, which picks out an interesting commonality between the Reformed and Catholicism.

    In any case, I am not sure why you’d think that the Reformed uphold an analogy of being and analogical predication between God and creatures in a metaphysical sense. My reading leads me to believe that it is exclusively moral, which could be explained by the above Christological worries. Perhaps you can flesh this out some more.

    I am not sure the Easterners would gloss their own view the way you have. You seem to be taking redemption in an exclusively personal way and they don’t. Their think Christ’s redemption applies even into eternity for unbelieving wicked-not that they will repent, but that they are granted immortality via the consubstantial relation Christ has with their humanity. Salvation at that level is absolute and predetermined allowing for no exceptions, while on the level of qua persons it requires a free response. So Salvation for the East admits of degrees alone the fault lines of the distinction between person and nature.

    Moreover, Christ’s work for the East surpasses Adam’s hypothetical perfect obedience since Christ defeats death by maintaining the hypostatic union between both natures even in death such that they are never separated from his divine person. This is something Adam neither could have done nor would have had he obeyed perfectly since he would have simply skipped mortality. So for the East, every man recapitulates the victory of Christ in so far as he dies and is raised again and exists immortally in the general resurrection, but those who personally recapitulate the life of Christ qua faith enjoy the benefits to a greater extent and hence the need for prayer, fasting and asceticism, to recapitulate the life of Christ in oneself. So it isn’t one or the other for them so it isn’t just that grace is only congruous but also condign, that is something with which our cooperation isn’t possible.

    If Jesus could determine persons such that they always obeyed and this is what his work accomplishes for a specific group of people then a few problems come to my mind. First, why not skip all of the evil and determine everyone to be perfect from the get-go? God doesn’t need evil to manifest his justice. It is not like justice is a passive power in God which the wicked move to action.

    Second, since Christ is the image that we are made in, it would follow that God himself necessarily willed such actions that alternatives weren’t logically possible for him, making the notion that redemption is gratuitous rather hollow. And if 2 Cor 5 which states that Christ died for all because all were dead cashes out to the idea that Christ dies for some then the logical implication is that because some were dead, implying that there are some men who have no need of Christ.

    So I am afraid I don’t see why we need a created intermediary so to speak between God and his creation.

  12. creedorchaos permalink*
    22 November, 2007 8:31 am

    Perry~

    Good comments; there’s too much at the moment for me to respond to everything, so I’ll try to stick to where it seems we’re coming from , rather than addressing every particular conclusion we get to from there.

    On analogy: When as a Reformed person I say ‘analogy’ in contrast to univocity and equivocity, I’m not referring to the analogy of being (analogia entis) view you’re referencing. The Reformed position is rather than even ‘being’ as a category can’t be predicated of the Creator and creatures univocally–there is no genus or concept under which God and creation can both be subsumed. The analogy is the analogy of God’s free condescension in revealing trustworthy knowledge of himself to us in a way that we as creatures can comprehend. ‘God is good’ and ‘Phil is good’, if both are true, are true in a thoroughly analogical way. And unlike in the analogy of being model, the Reformed confess that we have no access ‘behind’ the analogy to make sure that the analogy is accurate–it’s accurate because God is good, faithful, and trustworthy, and he has said ‘think of me like this.’ That’s what I mean by ‘analogical’. In the same way, when we’re said to be ‘glorified’ or the like it is not untrue, but it is analogical, appropriate to our creatureliness. Being creaturely and finite is good, because that’s how God created us–so this certainly does not hinder us from the most intimate communion with him.

    On the Creator-creature distinction: Along the same analogical lines (actually undergirding it) is the Reformed view of the Creator-creature distinction and relation. God and creation are wholly other from one another, even as they are at the same time intimately related. The character of God’s relation to creation is covenantal: he has spoken us into existence and upholds us by the word of his power, bringing us to fruitfulness by his Spirit, and in turn, our calling as humans (Adam’s calling) is to lead the creation in answering back to our God in praise of his glory, and especially to lead the race and all creation into everlasting eschatoligical (Spiritual) life with our God.

    On Adam: Adam failed to fulfill his calling; instead of answering back in covenant faithfulness to his Creator, he attempted to usurp his God and then refused to respond to him, hiding silent in the bushes. The judgment that justly came upon him is suffered by all his posterity (and all creation) because he by creation is our covenant (representative) head.

    On Adam and Christ: So this is the situation which Christ graciously took upon himself and overturned. And he doesn’t only earn for us what we lost in Adam (since Adam hadn’t attained his goal), or even only what we should have gained in Adam (since that would’ve been our own intrinsic success at gaining eschatological life). Because Christ has gained everlasting life by grace ON OUR BEHALF, its character is completely changed: our righteousness before God is forever because of the person and work of SOMEONE ELSE. As far as Christ not needing to be a divine person in this scheme (i.e. adoptionism), let’s remember that Christ is a divine-human person: he needs to be both. He is “God with us”, and the Lord is all our salvation–God has come to rescue and save, he is the God of salvation. But he came to save in the Son by becoming man, by redeeming us from the curse of the law which we deservedly brought upon ourselves in rebellion against our Maker. I can sympathize with your concern to be consistent in our understanding of the incarnation, but remember that the Word became flesh to die the death we deserve and live the life we should have lived–the incarnation is part of and serves the redeeming mission, it is not the accomplishment of the mission itself.

    On imputation: This all ties into the ‘weightiness’ of imputational-covenantal realities for me. So something being ‘merely nominal’ only works in a world where we’re not talking about the SPEAKING OF GOD. God doesn’t merely name things with no basis in reality, and yet where creation and recreation are concerned, he doesn’t merely apply a name to what’s already ‘real’ anyway–God speaks into existence the very reality which he pronounces. When God names he by that word creates the basis in ‘reality’. This account doesn’t fit into either a traditional nominalist or realist position. It fits into the biblical account, however: in creation, God’s “Let there be” always precedes the “And there was”; recreation is fundamentally analogous in this respect. I can’t imagine anything less pelagian than a thoroughly imputational righteousness which is accomplished solely by Christ on our behalf.

    ~B

  13. 22 November, 2007 9:49 am

    COC,

    The view of analogy you impute to the analogia entis is not Aquinas’ view but that of Scotus. Most Reformed misinterpret Aquinas in Scotistic terms because at the time of post-Reformation Orthodoxy, Scotistic manuals dominated the theological schools. This works its way up through various Reformed thinkers in response to the Jesuits who interpret the anlogia entis in a similar way and then into their Molinism, but it is not Aquinas.

    To speak of condescension is a helpful image but it doesn’t seem to do any real work, for then I want to know what the analogy is. It seems what you are using is not analogy but a metaphor. To be fair, Thomists don’t think they have any access behind revelation either, which is why they think that they only have quiditative knoweldge of God in this life, knowledge only that God is, not what God is. Not that I am interested in defending Thomism, because I am not a Thomist, but it is helpful to get clear on such things. I’d recommend looking at Arvin Vos’ little bk, Calvin Aquinas, and Contemporary Protestant Thought. Vos is Presbyterian btw and he traces the history of mistaken interpretations of Aquinas in Reformed thought.

    I think glorification is appropriate to our nature but that only means for me that God and creation are not opposed so that our becoming partakers of the divine nature doesn’t eradicate our nature, but perfects it. I suppose I don’t understand what you have in mind as the most intimate communion but just a contiguity of similar things.

    I suppose I don’t see God and creation as “wholly other” that is distinguished by opposing properties (dialectic). I know that that is a very Platonic way of looking at it, but I don’t think it will work. The notion of Covenant that you have in mind just falls out of this it seems, namely that God and creatures can only relate through a created intermediary, an extrinsic relation of will, known as the Covenant. I don’t God needs this because given the imago dei for example the Trinity’s relation to creation is always direct an unmediated.

    If Adam can represent all of humanity and the effects of his actions can be legitimately imputed to others, why does the 2nd Adam have to be deity? Let me be clear, I am not arguing against the divinity of Christ. It just isn’t clear to me why it is an essential part of the Reformed view given that all that is necessary is that God will some agents actions be meritorious and imputed to another agent.

    I understand that you think Christ merited, but my question is why is the relation one of merit in the first place? In some parables for example Jesus has the figure representing God forgive freely without any merit. Why does my righteousness need to be the result of work rather than simply the righteousness that God already possesses? That is what I am asking about.

    As for Christology, I don’t know of any Reformed systematics that speak of Christ being a human and divine person. To my knowledge they call classify that, rightly, as Nestorianism. If Christ were a human and divine person, what would constitute the union between them? What is they hypostatic (personal) union if there are two persons to be united? What unites them?

    It is true that God calls things into being and their name is grounded in the nature of the object. But in the case of justification, this is not true. This is how we can be fully righteous and still a sinner simultaneously. The label is not grounded on our internal nature but is forensic. And that is Nominalism. My internal regeneration may be contiguous with the forensic declaration, but it isn’t based on it. I am not labeled just because I am internally made righteous. That is the view of Augustine and Rome.

    The schema in its basics still strikes me as Pelagian for the following reasons. First, Adam is intrinsically righteous, confusing nature and grace which is a cardinal belief of the Pelagians. Righteousness has to be merited by a human agent, even if it is not by us. And the relation to God is extrinsic and moral through an examplar. Undergirding Pelagianism with Augustinian divine preemption and determination doesn’t fundamentally change the Pelagian structure of the schema, it just replaces the engine moving all the parts. Or so it seems to me.

    So I don’t see how we get form here there in terms of the righteousness needing to be extrinsic, merited and volitional.

    Thanks for the good convo.

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