Is Imputation Only a “Legal Ceremonial Pasting On”?
Don Fortner: “I heard a man say, with regard to Christ being made sin for us. ‘It is a legal matter.’ When I heard that, I shook my head in disbelief. Is it possible for a person to see nothing mysterious, nothing wondrously mysterious about the Son of God being made sin for us? Immediately, I thought of our Savior’s words in Lamentations 1:12. — “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me,
wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.”
Fortner: “The fact is the word translated “made” in 2nd Corinthians 5:21 means precisely that — ‘mysteriously, wondrously made, made in a profoundly mysterious way that is beyond explanation. ‘ It is not a legal (forensic) word. Our Lord Jesus was wondrously, mysteriously, profoundly caused to be sin for us, that we might be made (in the experience of grace) the righteousness of God in him.
Fortner: “Traditionally, it is said that Christ was made sin by imputation. I have said that myself; but that is not really true. The Word of God never says that. Our Lord Jesus was not made sin by imputation. The Scriptures forbid the possibility of that (Proverbs 17:15). Our sins were imputed to him because he was made sin. There is no place in this Book of God where a legal (forensic) term is used with reference to Christ being made sin.”
Mark McCulley: Proverbs 17:15 says “he who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
Fortner: “It is certainly true that our sin was imputed to our Savior. Had it not been imputed to him, he could never have suffered the wrath of God for our sin. But he was not made sin by imputation.
Mark McCulley: Sin was imputed, Mr Fortner agrees. But according to Fortner, that was only later, and that didn’t make Christ a sinner. But something did, and when that something did, then Christ was wicked actually and really, and then because He was wicked actually and really, then God could and did condemn Christ as wicked….
Fortner:”Our sins were justly imputed to him because he was made sin for us! The Book of God does not say our sins were pasted on him in a legal, ceremonial way.
Mark McCulley: According to Fortner, imputing sin is only declaring that Christ is wicked after “somehow” Christ was made wicked. Though nobody defines imputation as “pasted on”, it’s more convenient for Fortner to describe it that way than to talk to a real person who believes in the imputation of sins. Though nobody equates “ceremonial” with “legal”, it serves Fortner’s purposes to make that equation instead of trying to defend his indefensible explanation to a real person.
Fortner: The Book says, “He hath made him sin for us!” The Scriptures do not say he was treated as though he were sin. The Book says, “He hath made him sin for us!” The Word of God does not say he was accounted a transgressor. The Book says, “He hath made him sin for us!” And the Holy Spirit does not here say that he was made a sin-offering. The Book of God says, “He hath made him sin for us!”
Mark McCulley: 1. The book did not say made or “become” either, because there is a need to translate into English and interpret. But Fortner assumes that words must mean what he thinks they mean. 2. I agree that II Cor 5:21 does not say that Christ was made a sin-offering. The sin-offering is a result of Christ being legally imputed with the sins of the elect.
But I don’t only agree. I have a reason (an argument for why) I think it’s not sin-offering. “Made sin” is parallel to “become the righteousness”. Christ was imputed with sins, and the elect are imputed with righteousness when they are justified. But of course Fortner does not allow this parallel, because he assumes that “made” is not legal and because he assumes that “become” is not legal.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that Fortner’s hope is not Christ bearing away the guilt of the elect. To him that is not actual or real enough. That would only be ceremonial (legal). To be saved by imputation would be pasting on something, and not a real something inside you.