Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bayer's 'Justification as Creation'

Detail of Creation of the Sun and Moon
at Sistine Chapel 1508-1512

Oswald Bayer Writes:

"...justification is simply not an isolated topic, next to which other topics can exist; it has essential importance and its connected with every topic. Justification does not affect just my individual life, not even just the history of the world, but impacts the history of nature as well; it affects all things. It is thus not sufficient to speak of the article on justification solely as the arciculus statis et cadentis ecclesiae - as the article on which the church stands and falls. Instead, the meaning of justification must be taken seriously in its breadth, with ramifications that have application for a theology of creation and for ontology." (p. 98)

Justification is an act of creation by God - his will which is independent of man's will to create and make himself. The way we often think of justification is that it is one of many doctrines of the church. Bayer is suggesting that it is an ontological performative act of God - justification is creatio ex nihilo. Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the forgiveness of sins are given as gift in the same way that the heavens, earth, and seas are whisked into creation.

The Lutheran Confessions grasp this - that salvation is given as gift by and through faith - given by Christ freely - through God's binding act at the incarnation and cross.

Both the marxist and capitalist abhor that God becomes man and creates 'out of nothing.' In this way, right and left are no different - for they see the human unit as a unit of production who must essentially justify himself. That humanity is spoken into creation - spoken into actualization - and spoken into Christ's redemptive act is the great scandal to all.

God clothes us with an imputed righteousness - alien to ourselves but now wholly ours - given by the wedding ring of faith. God's act on the cross is the creation restored in him. The same God who hovered above the waters is the God who is baptizing, giving His name - who continues to create, sustain, and enliven. The God who creates justifies because it is his nature to love justice and who's justice is to love and rectify to the point of death on a cross. And his justice is grace upon grace, riches upon riches. The God of creation is the God who gives himself completely and justifies the ungodly.

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