Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bullinger on Justification and Sanctification

Earlier posts have referred to the conclusion of Mark Burrows who argues that Bullinger virtually identifies justification with sanctification. The following are some sections from the Decades Ivi – readers of this blog can make their own conclusions:

“And first I will shew you, that this term of justification is taken in this present treatise for the absolution and remission of sins, for sanctification, and adoption into the number of the sons of God…. Justification of life therefore is an absolution from sins, a delivery from death, a quickening or translating from death to life. For in the fourth to the Romans the same apostle expoundeth justification by sanctification, and sanctification by the remission of sins. For in treating of faith, whereby we are justified, or which God imputeth to us for righteousness without works, he saith: ‘Even as David also doth expound the blessedness of that man, to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works, saying: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.’ What could be more plainly spoken than this? For he doth evidently expound justification by sanctification, and sanctification by remission of sins. Furthermore, what else is sanctification but the adoption whereby we are received into the grace and number of the sons of God?.... By all this it is made manifest, that the question of justification containeth nothing else but the manner and reason of sanctification; that is to say, whereby how men have their sins forgiven, and are received into the grace and number of the sons of God, and, being justified, are made heirs of the kingdom of God. (Parker ed pp105-107)

The Latin is:

Principio demonstrabo iustificationis vocabulum in praesenti causa usurpari pro absolutione sive remissione peccatorum, pro beatificatione et adoptione in numerum filiorum dei….. Est ergo iustificatio vitae absolutio a peccatis, liberatio a morte, vivicatio seu translatio a morte in vitam. Nam in 4.cap. idem apostolus ad Rom. iustificationem exponit per beatificationem et hanc per remissionem peccatorum. Disputans enim de fide, qua iustificamur vel quam nobis imputat deus pro iustitia absque operibus: >Quemadmodum et David explicat<, inquit, >beatificationem hominis, cui deu imputat iustitiam absque operibus: Beati, quorum remissae sunt iniquitates et quorum obtecta sunt peccata< [Röm 4,6f] etc. Quid clarius adferri his poterat? Manisfeste enim iustificationem exponit per beatificationem et hanc per remissionem peccatorum. Praeterea quid est beatificatio aliud quam adoptio ea, qua recipimur in gratiam et numerum filiorum dei?..... Ex quibus omnibus planum fit quęstionem de iustificatione aliud non continere quam modum et rationem beatificandi, nempe per quid aut quomodo remittantur homnibus peccata, recipiantur autem in gratiam et in numerum filiorum dei fiantque iusti et haeredes regni dei. (Peter Opitz, Sermonum Decades, pp69,70)

The modern German is:

Zuerst will ich aufzeigen, dass der Wort >Gerechtsprechung< im vorliegenden Fall für den Erlass oder die Vergebung der Sünden verwendet wird, für die Vierleihung der Seligkeit und die Aufnahme in die Schar der Kinder Gottes….Wiederum wird die Gerechtsprechung zum Leben der Verurteilung zum Tode gegenübergestellt, die wegen der Sünde über uns verhängt worden ist. Also ist die Gerechtsprechung zum Leben die Vergebung der Sünden, die Befreiung vom Tod, das Lebenigmachen oder Überführen vom Tod ins Leben. Denn im Römerbrief, Kapitel 4, erklärt der Apostel die Gerechtprechung durch di Seligmachung und diese durch die Vergebung der Sünden. Denn über den Glauben, durch den wir gerechtgesprochen werden und den uns Gott ohne Werke zur Gerechtigkeit anrechnet, sagt er [Röm 4,6f]: >Wie denn auch David die Seligpreisung des Menschen ausspricht, dem Gott die Gerechtigkeit ohne Werke zurechnet: > Selig sind die, deren Übertretungen vergeben und deren Sünden bedeckt sind.<< Wie könnte man es noch deutlicher aussprechen? Denn ausdrücklich erläutert er die Gerechtsprechung durch die Seligpreisung und diese wiederum durch die Vergebung der Sünden. Was ist die Seligpreisung außerdem anderes als die Annahme, durch die wir in die Gnade und in die Schar der Kinder Gottes aufgenommen werden? …. Als alleden wird deutlich, dass die Frage nach der Gerechtsprechung nichts anderes zum Inhalt hat als die Art und Weise, wie man selig wird, nämlich wodurch und die wie den Menschen ihre Sünden vergeben werden, wie sie zu Gnaden und in die Schar der Kinder Gottes aufgenommen werden und wie sie gerecht und zu Erben des Reiches Gottes werden. (Heinrich Bullinger Schriften, TVZ 2006, p128-130)

A note needs to made about the terminology used by Bullinger. With respect to beatificatio the Parker edition of the Decades has this in the footnote on page 106: “This is the term which Bullinger employs in this Treatise of Justification, and which the translator, rather unhappily, has rendered sanctification. The idea intended by Bullinger is expressed in Rom. iv.7, which he quotes – cf Calvin, Instit. Lib. III, cap II. 4. & 22.”

Burrows has the following comment re the translation of beatificatio in one of his footnotes: “Throughout this English rendition, the translators opted to express this as ‘sanctification’, which initially at least appears an unfelicitous reading. Thus, the editors of the Parker Society text point this supposed ‘error’ out at every juncture of the way. Yet our wider reading of Bullinger’s oevre – and, specifically, the consideration of how he spoke of sanctification in his mature writings – suggests that his intention of speaking of ‘beatificatio’ was that of describing our growth not in grace but in obedience – the very process which Bullinger, like Calvin, otherwise describes as ‘sanctificatio’. The point is that Bullinger always resists the traditional Catholic reading of sanctification as a ‘progress’ in righteousness; justification and sanctification rely on the one righteousness of Christ, and derive exclusively from Christ’s ‘fromgheit’. This makes it all the more difficult to minimize Bullinger’s use of ‘beatificatio’, since he uses it in a manner similar to his pronouncements elsewhere on sanctification. And, we must here recall that this word was understood in medieval theology to describe the final union of the believer with God. It is, in this historically familiar sense, an ‘eschatological’ term. Hence, Bullinger’s intentions, particularly if he is here addressing – and altering – common expectations of his hearers/readers, seems to have been to flatten out this eschatological interpretation of ‘beatificatio’ and to bring it into line with the believer’s present life in Christ. To recall a characteristic theme of his, as articulated in the Second Helvetic Confession: ‘Christus intra nos vivens’. This is, thus, a powerful reworking of an established tradition, by which he perceives the Christian not as a ‘viator’ wandering in this nether world of shadows and hoping for a full vision of God hereafter, rather, this pilgrim is already beatified, already ‘in’ God through Christ’s righteousness. The English translators seem to be vindicated on this crucial point, since their reading captures the full force of Bullinger’s critical revision of this medieval tradition.”

Burrows' analysis, therefore, is that Bullinger uses beatificatio in both a ‘realized eschatlogical’ as well as a ‘future eschatological’ sense. The ‘realized eschatological’ sense is rooted in gratia. The ‘future eschatlogical’ sense is linked to vivificatio and Bullinger’s oft reminder to live integer before the Lord.

See Peter Opitz’s HabilitationschriftHeinrich Bullinger als Theologe: eine Studie zu den especially the following sections:

IV 2.2.5 Iustificatio als sanctificatio aufgrund der communio mit Christus

IV 4 Sanctificatio als vivificatio, poenitentia und restitutio der imago Dei

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