Calvin vs Osiander: Reconciliation is Not Infusion or Regeneration

Calvin, 3/11/4—But the most satisfactory passage on this subject is that in which he declares the sum of the Gospel message to be reconciliation to God, who is pleased, through Christ, to receive us into favor by not imputing our sins, (2 Cor. 5: 18-21.)

Let my readers carefully weigh the whole context. For Paul shortly after adding, by way of explanation, in order to designate the mode of RECONCILIATION, that Christ who knew no sin was made sin for us, undoubtedly understands by reconciliation nothing else than justification. Nor, indeed, could it be said, as he elsewhere does, that we are made righteous “by the obedience” of Christ, (Rom. 5: 19,) were it not that we are deemed righteous in the sight of God in him and not in ourselves.

Osiander holds in regard to the mode of receiving Christ,that by the ministry of the external word the internal word is received; that he may thus lead us away from the priesthood of Christ, and his office of Mediator, to his eternal divinity.

It would be incongruous to say that that which existed naturally from eternity was made ours. But granting that God was made unto us righteousness, what are we to make of Paul’s interposed statement, that he was so made by God? This certainly is peculiar to the office of mediator, for although he contains in himself the divine nature, yet he receives his own proper title, that he may be distinguished from the Father and the Spirit.

Jehovah, when made of the seed of David, was indeed to be the righteousness of believers, but in what sense Isaiah declares, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” (Isaiah 53: 11.) Let us observe that it is the Father who speaks. He attributes the office of justifying to the Son, and adds the reason, – because he is “righteous.” Christ justified us by his obedience to the
Father; and, accordingly that he does not perform this for us in respect of his divine nature, but according to the nature of the dispensation laid upon him.

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6 Comments on “Calvin vs Osiander: Reconciliation is Not Infusion or Regeneration”

  1. MARK MCCULLEY Says:

    I am still waiting for any Bible verses which prove “infused righteousness”.

    Objection: God imputes this thing Christ purchased for the elect to the elect. I don’t deny that but If that’s the case, then I have to ask, where does Christ fit into that? Why don’t you talk more about Christ in your heart?

    mark:. Christ, besides being the earner who obtained all the blessings of salvation for the elect by His obedience, now does these two things. Christ both indwells (lives in) the justified and also intercedes (in heaven) for the elect.

    The indwelling—- Where faith is, Christ is. Luther was certainly correct about that truth, but it’s a mistake to locate the righteousness in the faith, or identify the righteousness with Christ’s life inside us (as Osiander did.)

    The work to earn righteousness for the elect was done outside of the elect. The righteousness which resulted and which is imputed is always outside of the elect. Bunyan explained: the righteousness is in heaven. The righteousness belongs not to us alone in our insides but to all the elect. The righteousness also belongs still to Christ.

    objection: Because if that is indeed the case, then to be blunt about it, we don’t even need Christ Himself anymore. He bought what we need, so now He can step back, go do whatever while God hands out what He purchased. Why would we have faith in Him? Our faith would be in what He purchased instead. How does that glorify Christ?

    mark: Of course Socinians who deny forensic justification often ask this, but I understand that you are not denying any forensic thing. You are only denying the only. You are merely deny the mere imputation. You want the forensic plus more, also Christ Himself the person living in you, but not only that, but let’s say it, Christ in us our righteousness.

    I agree that Christ the person is not a something to be imputed. I agree that the true Christ is given to live in the justified elect. We don’t need false alternatives, such as “HIM vs His work”. But we also need true antithesis. The “life of God inside the of the man” IS NOT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    In By Faith Not By Sight, Richard Gaffin : “Typically in the Reformation tradition the hope of salvation is expressed in terms of Christ’s righteousness, especially as imputed to the believer…however, I have to wonder if ‘Christ in you’ is not more prominent as an expression of evangelical hope…” p110

    Gaffin wants to say that both the “in us” and the “outside us” combined are our hope. His hope “as well” is Christ’s life in us defined as the power to avoid sin despite our “incomplete progress, flawed by our continued sinning”.

    Instead of making a distinction between dead works (Hebrews 6:1,9:14) and “fruit for God” (Romans 7:4), Gaffin bases assurance partly on Christ’s life in us evidenced by our imperfect but habitual obedience.

    Gaffin takes Romans 2:13 to be describing Christians. The hope for future justification is not Christ’s death, resurrection, and intercession outside us ALONE. Gaffin cautions us to remember that the obedience (works, avoidance of sin) which he thinks factor into assurance come from God living in us. He gives grace the credit for our “breach with sin”.

    I agree that the gospel is not only about what Christ did outside of the elect for the elect. The gospel is also about the effectual call which results from election in Christ. One evidence of this effectual call is that the justified elect do not put their assurance in Christ’s life in us or even in what they call God’s effectual call.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    p 110, “What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”, Bruce McCormack, Princeton Seminary

    “Nowadays, we are suffering from ‘creeping perichoresis’, that is, the overly expansive use of terms which have their homes in purely spiritual relations between humans who do NOT participate in a common ‘substance’ and who therefore remain distinct individuals This surely has to be the relation of the human believer to the human Jesus as well.

    McCormack—“The early church thought of an ontological union of a ‘person” in whom being is mixed with non-being (that’s us) with a ‘person’ in whom being is pure from non-being (Jesus). Where that occurs, the life communicated from the vine to the branches flows organically…But the difference between the relation between a vine and a branch and the relation between Christ and the believer is that the first relation is impersonal and the second is personal. The flow of nutrients from the vine to the branches take place automatically.But in the case of Christ and the individual believer,the ‘bearing of fruit’ takes place on the foundation of justification.”

    That Paul in Romans 11 would preface his use of the horticultural image with the affirmation that the adoption belonged to the Israelites before the Gentiles suggests that the image of ‘ingrafting’ is used as a synonym for adoption. The horticultural image is subordinated to the legal.”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Osiander was opposed principally by Francesco Stancaro, who ran into the opposite extreme of excluding entirely Christ’s divine nature from all concern in the redemption procured for sinners. Philip Melanchthon’s letter to Osiander was generally positive, he criticized Osiander, especially to his contemporaries for “not including a discussion of Christ’s meritorious death when mentioning Christ’s essential righteousness”.[ On 27 May 1551, Joachim Mörlin publicly attacked Osiander from the pulpit, which Osiander defended at the pulpit four days later. The controversy continued until around 1566 but continued to be discussed for centuries, notably by Eduard Böhl in the late 19th century who declared it to have had an impact upon reformed theology. In 1555 there were outbreaks of violence in Prussia over the Osiandrian controversy

  4. markmcculley Says:

    The ministry of reconciliation is NOT the ministry of regeneration. I am not denying regeneration, but I am denying that our reconciliation to God is by regeneration. Our reconciliation to God is our justification before God. Reconciliation happens in history. Justification happens in history.

    Reconciliation is becoming the righteousness of God in him. Regeneration is not our righteousness. Regeneration is not our Reconciliation. Reconciliation is received by God’s imputation in history, not by our regeneration and not by our faith.

    II Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation ! Old things have passed away, and look, new has come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that become the righteousness of God in Him.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Calvin, Institutes 3:11: —Osiander introduces a substantial mixture, by which God, transfusing himself into us, makes us as it were a part of himself. Osiander regards Christ’s indwelling us as almost nothing unless his essence is mingled with us. Osainder taches hat we are not justified by the mere grace of the Mediator, and that righteousness is not simply or entirely given to us in his person, but that we are made partakers of divine righteousness when God is essentially united to us.

    Osainder might indulge his dreams with less harm, and, perhaps, it were less necessary to contest the matter with him; but since his principle would rob us of that righteousness which alone gives us full assurance of our salvation, we must strenuously resist. For, in the whole of this discussion, the noun righteousness and the verb to justify, are extended by Osiander to two parts; to be justified being not only to be reconciled to God, but ALSO to be made just; and righteousness being NOT a free imputation, but the holiness and integrity which the divine essence dwelling in us inspires.

    Osiander vehemently asserts that Christ is himself our righteousness, not in so far as he, by expiating sins, appeased the Father, but because he is the eternal God and life. To prove the first point—viz. that God justifies not only by pardoning but by regenerating, Osainder asks, whether he leaves those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices?

    The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable. Whomsoever, therefore, God receives into his favor, he presents with the Spirit of adoption, whose agency forms them anew into his image.

    Osiander confounds that free acceptance with this gift of regeneration, and contends that they are one and the same. But Scriptures while combining both, classes them separately …Whenever Paul argues from the salvation procured for us, from the paternal love of God and the grace of Christ, that we are called to purity and holiness, he plainly intimates, that to be justified is something else than to be made new creatures.


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