The Imputation of Christ's Righteousness (2)

Several weeks ago I began a blog series on the imputation of Christ's righteousness and my busy schedule has prevented me from posting again. This week is really no different with an Ascension Day service Thursday evening, a wedding on Friday and morning worship on Sunday, so I'll do this quickly.

In the previous post I noted that there were divines at the Westminster Assembly who insisted that what is imputed in justification is Christ's passive righteousness. Though the majority of commissioners embraced a double imputation (active and passive righteousness), the Westminster Assembly did not want to exclude the minority position from their confessional stance.

The following information is derived from Hans Boersma's super informative Th.D. dissertation, A Hot Pepper Corn: Richard Baxter's Doctrine of Justification in Its Seventeenth-Century Context of Controversy. In my edition published by Boekencentrum in Zoetemeer, the relevant page numbers are 220-230.

In the continental Reformed tradition there are many who embraced what at the Westminster Assembly was a minority position. John Calvin believed that Christ obeyed the law for our sake, but he stopped short of stating that Christ's obedience to the law was imputed to us. It was Calvin's colleague and successor, Theodore Beza, who was the first to differentiate sharply between aspects of Christ's righteousness.

Many in the continental tradition rejected Beza's reformulation of the doctrine of justification as including the imputation of Christ's active obedience, including Zacharius Ursinus (1534-83), Caspar Olevianus (1536-87), David Pareus (1548-1622), Marcus Friedrich Wendelin (1584-1652), Jacob Alting (1618-76)and Johannes Piscator (1546-1625). At the synod of Dort, Sibrandus Lubbertus (1555-1625)and Johannes Bogerman (1576-1637) showed sympathy for this position, though Synod reaffirmed double imputation by amending the text of the Belgic Confession by adding the words "in our stead" to Article 22.

Boersma's claims are supported by Heinrich Heppe who in his Reformed Dogmatics states, "The older German-Reformed theologians (chiefly those of Heidelberg, Herborn, Anhalt like URSIN, PISCATOR, SCULTETUS) had of course taught with apparent agreement, that Christ gave the 'active obedience' purely for himself, in order to be able as the holy deliverer to offer the Father the only representative 'passive obedience'" (p.460).

More to follow . . .

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