A Quick Thought on Justification

I was just reading through a chapter from Michael McClymond and Gerald McDermott's The Theology of Jonathan Edwards and was moved (as always) by the Edwardsian perspective of wholeness, and the lack of compartmentalization it has. This time though it was through a quote from theologian Bruce McCormack. He stated

The problem with Thomas [Aquinas], [the Reformers] would have said, lies in the fact that he makes the root of our justification to lie in what God does in us. But to the extent that we see our salvation as in any way contingent upon what we are or have become at a particular point in time, we shift the locus of our attention from what Luther called the 'alien righteousness of Christ' (which is complete in myself) to a work of God in us which is radically incomplete.1

So after finding some conviction here, I thought about this mistake. I thought about how often I can sit and drown in the shallow waters of introspection. Now don't get me wrong, introspection is needed. But what our theology of justification too often lacks is a serious contemplation of Christ.

This "alien righteousness of Christ" is a perfection that is wholly pure in and of itself, transcending the abyss of separation between God and man, and - without diminishing in any of its perfection - penetrates the faulty hearts of man in all of our limitations and imperfections. This transcendence, as well as its landing (in man), is not to be dwelled upon as the subject of enjoyment, for they are not as lovely as the source. They are but just a ray of light and a surface that the light illumines. But Christ, who is rich in unending, self-perpetuating perfection is himself the Light of perfect righteousness. So, I contend, be like the moth, and be drawn out from the night of over-introspection, and fly transfixed toward him and his brilliance.

  1. Bruce, McCormack, "Whats at Stake in Current Debates over Justification: The Crisis of Protestantism in the West" in Mark Husbands and Daniel Treier, eds., Justification: What's at Stake in Current Debates.