Monday, December 28, 2009

Brian Schwertley: Luke 18:9-14 clearly demonstrates a faith/works antithesis in justification

Christ our Savior speaks in Luke 18:9-14 --

[9] And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Brian Schwertley comments on the implications of this passage regarding covenantal faithfulness contrasted with self-renouncing faith, with respect to justification:

Note how Jesus (like Paul after Him) contrasts two radically different views of biblical religion. The Pharisee boasts about his covenantal faithfulness; about his own subjective righteousness; about his faithfulness to God’s law. The tax collector, on the other hand, understands that his works merit nothing, that he is a sinner and thus casts himself entirely upon God’s mercy. He understands that he must receive everything from God.

Note also that Christ is discussing two religious Jews who were at the Temple praying. These men were both covenantal sons, not slaves. This means that Jesus condemns a reliance on covenantal faithfulness or keeping the moral law as a means of approaching God in the same manner as Paul, His beloved disciple. Any attempt to circumvent the import of this passage by looking to the “identity markers” theory is refuted in two ways. First, the Pharisee relied on the moral law for righteousness or individual salvation. Second, both men were Jews. Attitudes regarding the status of the Gentiles have nothing to do with this parable. Once again, we see that the faith that justifies is a self-renouncing faith that looks to the righteousness of another. The faith/works antithesis in the sphere of justification that was and is one of the pillars of Lutheranism and the Reformed faith must be maintained. It is thoroughly biblical. (Brian Schwertley, A Refutation of the Auburn Avenue Theology's Rejection of Justification by Faith Alone)

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