Sir:

     Strictures against those who disagree with the Reformation Day Declaration outlined in Issue 7650 lose their force because the doctrine of forensic, declarative justification outlined therein is not that of our Reformers. It reflects the Humanism taught by Philip Melanchthon, often called Germany’s Erasmus. Unlike the bulk of Reformers including Bucer, Bullinger, Calvin and the English compilers of the 39 Articles and Homilies, the Melanchthon school taught a mere passive, non-causative, forensic justification turned into actual justification through obedience to natural law and the gospel. Because it was humanistic, it was man-centred. Sadly, the corrupt view of Reformation doctrine promoted in the declaration has crippled our Reformed churches and caused them to abandon the sovereignty of God in salvation, teaching humanistic natural law, common grace and duty faith as the activating means in all men to make them just before God. Thus we have the present error of leading men of the Reformed Establishment who are publicly exhorting us to drop our ‘all of grace’ theology and believe that justifying salvation is where a holy god does his bit and sinful man does his.

     Our Reformers’ view was God-centred. They maintained that the Scriptures teach a causative, activating and transforming justification through the divine agency of adoption, forgiveness, new birth, imputed righteousness, the work of the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ. Thus, contrary to the declaration’s assertion, justification is a transforming activity of grace and not a mere legal declaration. It is an encounter with the life-giving God which gives us acceptance in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6), by making us holy and beloved ourselves (Col. 3:12) so that we become New Creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). Justification is, therefore, not a pro forma certificate, leaving the real justification process to the sinner, nor is it legal fiction leaving the sinner unchanged in his theoretical justification. Biblical, activating, transforming justification leaves no room for works righteousness as God performs all.

     In short, it is not the view that justification transforms that makes a man rely on himself for righteousness, holiness and sanctification but the view that justification does not transform but leaves a man unchanged. The Scriptures clearly teach the transforming power of justification culminating in that absolute, causative, generative and activating truth, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Rom. 5:19).