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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pastor Paul Rydecki Exposes the WELS Error on Justification

A. Hunnius on the truly confessional Lutheran teaching of Romans 5:18 | Faith Alone Justifies:

A. Hunnius on the truly confessional Lutheran teaching of Romans 5:18


Aegidius Hunnius has a brilliant section in A Clear Explanation of the Controversy among the Wittenberg Theologians concerning Samuel Huber’s misuse of Romans 5 to prove that all those who have been condemned through Adam’s sin have also been justified by Christ’s obedience (whether they believe in Him or not).
The WELS officially interprets Romans 5 just like Huber did, and condemns those who disagree with them as “unlutheran,” unconfessional, and even impenitent sinners.  From the WELS official This We Believe statement of faith, first paragraph in the section on Justification:
1. We believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them righteous for the sake of Christ. This is the central message of Scripture upon which the very existence of the church depends. It is a message relevant to people of all times and places, of all races and social levels, for “the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men” (Romans 5:18). All need forgiveness of sins before God, and Scripture proclaims that all have been justified, for “the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5:18).
And this from Professor Forrest Bivens of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in an article from Forward in Christ about a year and a half ago:
Romans 3:23,24 and Romans 5:18,19 affirm that all are sinners and all are justified.  Through Adam all are condemned, and through Christ all are justified. The astonishing reality is that God has forgiven the sins of the whole world, whether people believe it or not.
Hunnius takes apart Huber’s (and the official WELS) doctrine piece by piece, concluding with this observation about Huber’s supposed “confessional subscription” to the Lutheran Book of Concord:
And what will Dr. Huber reply to the Book of Concord, which, in citing these very words from Romans, explicitly confirms that those things mean nothing other than that we are justified by faith? This is what the Book of Concord says in the Latin edition, page 666: “Therefore, these statements are equivalent and clearly mean the same thing, when Paul says that we are justified by faith; or that faith is imputed to us for righteousness; and when he teaches that we are justified by the obedience of one Mediator, who is Christ; or that through the righteousness of one man, justification of life comes upon all men. For faith does not justify on account of this, that it is such a good work, or that it is such a splendid virtue, but because it apprehends and embraces the merit of Christ in the promise of the Gospel.” Thus far the Book of Concord.  If the Pauline phrase (that “through the righteousness of one Man, justification of life comes upon all men”) clearly means the same thing as that other statement, “We are justified by faith” (as the Book of Concord clearly and emphatically asserts), then the interpretation is rejected by the sentence of the Book of Concord that imagines from these words of Paul a justification apart from faith—one that extends also to those who have never had faith and never will. Dr. Luther says it even better in [his lectures on] the second chapter to the Galatians: “Where Christ and faith are not present, there is no remission of sins, no refuge, nothing but pure imputation of sins and condemnation.”
According to Hunnius, one cannot honestly claim to be a “confessional” Lutheran while at the same time teaching a justification apart from faith based on Romans 5:18.  His quotation from Luther is also highly relevant.  How long will the WELS continue to claim to be a “confessional Lutheran” church body? How long will the truly confessional Lutheran pastors in the WELS remain in voluntary fellowship with the synod that officially condemns the Gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ as heresy?

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