Soteriological Issues in the 1999 Joint Declaration on Justification 65used image to refer to the salvation in Christ, "justification"
is drawnfrom Paul's Jewish background and denotes a societal or judicial relationship, eitherethical or forensic (that is, related to law courts; see Dt 25:1). The
or up-right person
came to refer usually
one who stood acquitted
vindicatedbefore a judge's tribunal (Ex. 23:7;
Kgs. 8:32). Jews also
statusof "righteousness" or "uprightness" in the sight of Yahweh the Judge by observingthe rules and regulations of the Mosaic law (see Ps. 7:9-12). When Paul says thatChrist has "justified" humans, he means that Christ has brought it about that theynow stand before God's tribunal acquitted or innocent. The characteristicallyPauline contribution to the notion of justification is his affirmation of the gratuitous
unmerited character of this justification of all humanity in
What I want to illustrate by using the latest biblical insights into the notion of justification is that this notion
a forensic character
ancient Hebrews.This holds true despite attempts by some Orthodox and even Lutheran theologiansto dismiss the forensic and extrinsic characters of
notion and to attribute themonly to medieval and Reformation developments.
For example, in critiquing Lu-ther's view of justification, Orthodox theologian Georges Florovskywrote:
ther 'to justify' meant to declare one
just, not 'to make'
or just—it is an appeal to an extrinsic justice which in reality is a spiritual fiction."
Lutheran theologian Paul Hinlicky has noted that "justification"
"malignedas a 'law-court metaphor' that
theological thought in legalism," but he empha-sizes that this "law-court metaphor
Israel's prophets" themselves.
As it has been noted time and again in recent scholarship, Orthodox havetended to emphasize the notion of deification or divinization
as the choiceimage expressing salvation, at the expense of that of justification. Deification is adoctrine based on 2 Pet. 1:4: "Thus [Jesus] has given us ... his precious and verygreat promises, so that through them you may escape
the corruption that is inthe world because of lust, and may
participants of the divine
(em-phasis mine). Building on this text, Orthodox regard deification, that
par-ticipation in the divine nature, as made possible by the incarnation of the seconddivine person and as the result of the Holy Spirit's activity in humans. Vladimir
Joseph A. Fitzmyer, "Pauline Theology/'
Raymond E. Brown et al., eds.,
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
Chapman, 1990), p. 1397. Biblical quotations throughout this essayaretaken from
Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books,
New Revised Standard Version(New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 1989).
Chrestos Androutsos (1869-1937),
(Athens, 1930); I hadaccess to
Romanian translation titled
Iustin Moisescu (Craiova: Editura Centrului Mitropolitanal Olteniei, 1955), p. 201. Valerie A. Karras, "Beyond Justification: An Orthodox Perspective," in Michael RootandWilliam G. Rusch, eds.,
The Joint Declaration on Justification: Its Ecumenical Implications
(Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, forthcoming in 2002); Aden Ross, "Justification and Sanctification:
Conversation be-tween Lutheranism and Orthodoxy,"
Vladimir's Theological Quarterly,
vol. 38, no.
(1994), pp. 87-109;Gerhard O. Forde,
Matter of Death and Ufe
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), pp.8,41-43.
(Vadez: Buescherveitreisbanstah, 1987),
Hinlicky, "Theological Anthropology: Toward Integrating
34 (Winter, 1997): 49.