Beyond Imputed Righteousness: A Reappraisal of the Great Exchange Jordan Cooper (www.JustandSinner.

com) The “great exchange” is one of the central motifs in the Protestant Reformation, and has remained so in Reformation churches. This concept has been utilized heavily in the discussion of imputation, often labeled double imputation (or even triple imputation!).1 The manner in which Protestant theology has formulated the exchange formula is that through faith one's sins are imputed to Christ, and Christ's righteousness is imputed to the believer.2 This is a legal transaction, where the merit of one party is transferred to the other, and the punishment given to the guilty party is paid by another. The problem with the way that this concept has been formulated is not in what is said when describing the “great exchange”, but what is left out of the discussion. Luther's concept of the great exchange does not consist of a purely legal transaction including sin and righteousness, but is a holistic motif, encapsulating all aspects of salvation.3 It is not only righteousness that is transferred, but Christ's divinity, immortality, and resurrection life. Consequently Christ takes upon himself, not only sin, but mortality, the reign of the devil, and human frailty. When imputation is placed within this context, it is shown to stand firmly with the catholic tradition, expounding upon various Patristic and Medieval soteriological motifs. The “Sweet Exchange” in Diognetus The theme of exchange occurs early within Christian literature. Is has its roots in the Pauline formula that “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”4 This statement was expounded upon by the anonymous author of the epistle to Diognetus. He writes,

This was not that he at all delighted in our sins, but that he simply endured them; nor that he approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that he sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our

See: Ryken, Philip Graham “Justification” in Carson, D.A. The Gospel as Center: Renewing our Faith and Reforming our Ministry Practices (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 160-164 2 Bridges, Jerry and Bob Bevington. The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007) 3 See for example: Linman, Jonathan. “Martin Luther: „Little Christs for the World‟; Faith and Sacraments as Means to Theosis.‟”in: Christensen, Michael J. and Jeffery A. Wittung. Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 189-199 4 2 Corinthians 5:21. All Scripture references are from the ESV.

unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached it‟s height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting his own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great longsuffering and bore with us, he himself took on him the burden of our iniquities, he gave his son as a ransom for us, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the incorruptible one for the corruptible, the immortal one for the mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than his righteousness? By what other thing was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hidden in a single righteous One, that the righteousness of one should justify the many transgressors.5 This quote parallels Luther's language, even to the point of speaking about a “sweet exchange.” The author describes an exchange of both sin and righteousness. Righteousness is transferred from Christ to the believer, and the believer's sin is transferred to Christ. Because righteousness is described as a “covering”, it is valid to speak of imputed righteousness; the description of righteousness as a cover doesn't fit with the concept of inherent or infused righteousness. In this sense, there is agreement between the author of Diognetus and the later Protestant tradition. However, the author does not argue for imputation of righteousness in a vacuum but places it within a broader context of the sharing of attributes. Christ gives righteousness, incorruptibility and immortality; humans give sin, unrighteousness, corruptibility, and mortality. Righteousness is merely one of the attributes of Christ which is given in exchange for human sin. Though righteousness has the central place in Diognetus, there is also a concept of theosis,


Epistle to Diognetus, IX in: Holmes, Michael W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations Third Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007)

wherein the divine attributes of immortality and incorruptibility are given to the human person.6 There is both an imputation of righteousness, and an impartation of divine qualities.

Theosis as Exchange in the Church Fathers Though Reformation theology has emphasized 2 Corinthians 5:21 in discussions of the exchange, the Eastern Orthodox have emphasized 2 Corinthians 8:9; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”7 This is used as a basis for the doctrine of deification, where the poverty of humanity is taken upon the second person of the Holy Trinity, and the riches of divinity are given to human nature. The earliest Pauline interpreters utilize this type of exchange formula. In his preface to Book V. of Against Heresies, Irenaeus speaks of “the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that he might bring us to be even what He is Himself.”8 This statement summarizes the soteriology found throughout Irenaeus' works, purporting that Christ takes attributes of humanity upon himself, and consequently transfers attributes of divinity to human nature. Jeffrey Finch observes,

Irenaeus established the metaphysical possibility of human participation in an ever transcendent God on the Christological distinction between the uncreated, eternal Son and the created humanity to which He was united by the Holy Spirit through the flesh assumes at the incarnation. Jesus Christ is at once Himself the union between God and creation and also our own way to union with God.9

In Irenaeus' theology, there is an exchange that occurs through the very act of the incarnation. When Christ assumed a human nature, he was not simply one human among many; Christ assumed both the universal and the particular. He was a human individual who encapsulated


See the discussion in: Kharlamov, Vladimir “Deification in the Apologists of the Second Century” in: Finlan, Stephen et. al. Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology (Eugene: Pickwick, 2006), 83-84 7 Keating, Daniel A. Deification and Grace (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia, 2007), 16-17 8 Against Heresies V. Preface in: Schaff, Philip Ante Nicene Fathers Vol. I. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), 526 9 Finch, Jeffrey. “Irenaeus on the Christological Basis of Human Divinization” in Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology, 96

humanity in himself.10 This bridged, not only a gap of sin, but a metaphysical chasm between the created and uncreated. This is achieved through the recapitulation formula of Irenaeus, wherein humanity's corruption and sin is reversed through Christ's life as second Adam.11 This type of language is not unique to Irenaeus, but is prominent in the first centuries of the church. Justin can speak, for example of Christ being “the chief of another race regenerated by Himself through water, and faith, and wood.”12 This hints at the idea of recapitulation, that Christ encapsulates humanity in his person and creates a new humanity which participates in him;13 Christ takes the frailty of humanity, and gives honor, glory and immortality to it. Justin also uses exchange language, albeit infrequently. He purports, “For next to God, we worship and love the Word who is from the unbegotten and ineffable God, since also He became man for our sakes, that becoming a partaker of our sufferings, He might also bring us healing.”14 Christ takes human suffering upon himself, and gives his divine character, resulting in healing, to humanity. It is Athanasius who first expounds upon this concept of exchange, and gives clear exposition of its meaning. He writes that, “He was made man that we might be made God.”15 This exchange involves, not a confusion of natures, but the assumption of a human nature by the Son of God, as well as the reception of divine characteristics on the part of humankind.16 Athanasius' exchange model is largely placed within a life/death context. Christ takes mortality upon himself, and grants immortality to his people.17 Through Adam, all people are placed under a great debt: namely, death. Death is the necessary payment for sin. As fellow sinners, and mortal, no human can pay this debt for another. This is a primary reason for the incarnation. Athanasius contends,

The death of all was accomplished in the Lord's body, and that death and corruption were

Mannermaa makes this same point regarding Luther‟s theology: “Christ is a kind of „collective person,‟ or, as the Reformer formulates it himself, the „greatest person‟ (maxima persona), in whom the persons of all human beings are really united. Christ is every sinner.” Mannermaa, Tuomo. Christ Present in Faith (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 15 11 See: Wingren, Gustaf Man and the Incarnation: A Study in the Biblical Theology of Irenaeus (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 1959), 79-112 12 Trypho CXXXVII in: ANF I, 268 13 Irenaeus himself says that he takes his theology of recapitulation from Justin. Against Heresies 4.6.1 14 Second Apology XIII, 193 15 Incarnation of the Word 54.3, A Religious of C.S.M.V St. Athanasius on the Incarnation: The Treatise De Incarnatione Verbi Dei (London: Mowbray, 1963), p. 65 16 See: Finch, Jeffrey “Athanasius on the Deifying Work of the Redeemer” in Deification in Christian Theology, 104-121 17 “He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality.” 54.3, p.65

wholly done away with by reason of the Word that was united with it. Fore there was need of death, and death must needs be suffered on behalf of all, that the debt owing from all might be paid. Whence, as I said before, the Word, since it was not possible for Him to die, as He was immortal, took to Himself a body such as could die, that He might offer it as His own in the stead of all, and as suffering, through His union with it, on behalf of all, “Bring to nought Him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”18

It is interesting to note that there are both metaphysical and legal concepts at work in Athanasius' soteriology. He can speak of the cross as the payment of a debt that Christ paid “on behalf of all”, yet he also speaks about the transfer of divine qualities such as immortality and impassibility to humanity.19 Though he does not speak specifically of the imputation of righteousness as does the author of Diognetus, the theology of these two fathers correspond in a number of ways. Both speak of the work of Christ as exchange; both describe humanity being assumed by the second person of the Trinity, and consequently a transfer of divine qualities, especially immortality, to humanity; finally, both use legal language as part of this exchange—for Athanasius it is a debt paid by Christ, for Diognetus, the imputation of righteousness. In all three of the writers examined above, as well as in Diognetus, there is a utilization of the great exchange formula. In Irenaeus, Christ takes frail human nature upon himself, reversing the corruption humanity experiences through Adam. In turn, Jesus restores humanity, and grants participation in God. Justin writes similarly, approaching a concept of recapitulation, and that Christ takes human suffering so that humanity might participate in divine healing. Athanasius writes of the great exchange primarily in terms of theosis and a life/death paradigm. Christ takes human death upon himself and grants humanity divine life. This is described in both legal and participationist categories. It is clear that the great exchange motif is not unique to Luther, but is prevalent in the early Patristic period. Thus Luther's view is truly catholic, even if the emphasis on righteousness in Luther's formula is not the emphasis of various fathers.

Exchange in the Medieval Church

18 19

Incarnation of the Word 20.5-6, p.47 See Lewis‟ great introduction to Athanasius on the Incarnation. 3-10

The medieval church, both east and west continued to speak of soteriology in terms of exchange. In the east, John of Damascus expounded greatly upon Athanasius‟ contention that God became man so that man might become god. He writes,

For since He bestowed on us His own image and His own spirit and we did not keep them safe, He took Himself a share of our poor and weak nature, in order that He might cleanse us and make us incorruptible, and establish us once more as partakers of His divinity … He gave us therefore, as I said, a second birth in order that, just as we who are born of Adam are in his image and are the heirs of the curse and corruption, so also being born of Him we may be in His likeness and heirs of His incorruption and blessing and glory.20

Like Irenaeus and Athanasius before him, John describes an exchange wherein God takes aspects of fallen humanity upon himself, and consequently transfers qualities of divinity to the human race.21 He utilizes the Adam/Christ parallel to point to the corruption of nature in Adam, and the healing of nature in the second Adam. Through Adam, humanity receives mortality, corruption, and weakness. Christ, in taking these attributes of Adam humanity upon himself, restores humankind, granting immortality, incorruption, and participation in divinity. The Western church, similarly, continued to speak of such an exchange in the medieval period. This is prominent especially in the late medieval mystical tradition which Luther‟s own theology arose from. The so-called Theologia Germanica, of which Luther claims “Next to the Bible and Saint Augustine no other book has come to my attention from which I have learned— and desired to learn—more concerning God, Christ, man, and what all things are”22 expounds upon the Patristic concept of the great exchange. This likely influenced Luther‟s own formulation of the concept. The anonymous writer asks, “How, then, shall the fall be redeemed?”23 and “By whom or in what manner did this healing take place?”24 He answers in a manner that is commensurate with Athanasius: “God assumed human nature or humanity. He


John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith XIII, Schaff, Philip Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Second Series: Vol. 9 (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), p.82 21 The best treatment of John‟s doctrine of deification is in: Russel, Norman. The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition. (New York: Oxford, 2006) 22 Hoffman, Bengt. The Theologia Germanica of Martin Luther (New York: Paulist, 1980), 54 23 Theologia Germanica, 63 24 Theologia Germanica, 63

became humanized and man became divinized. That is the way amends were made.”25 He places this within the context of the first and second Adam; Christ took the sin and death that defined humanity through Adam, and Jesus placed his own life and righteousness upon humanity.26 Christ placed death on his shoulders, defeating it through the cross, and gives life to those who are in him: “Let us add that when this true Good is known in a person, Christ‟s life is also sure to be there and remain to the death of the body.”27 The exchange, for the anonymous mystic who wrote the Theologia Germanica, is a central aspect of Christian soteriology, and is primarily formulated in the context of life/death, along with the concepts of divine humanization and human divinization. Bernard of Clairvaux, possibly the most influential thinker in Luther‟s theological development,28 uses language of justification and deification in the context of an exchange which occurs through the marriage of the soul to God. His sermons on the Song of Songs serve as a thorough exposition of the marriage metaphor, through which these concepts can be evaluated. For Bernard, the incarnation is primarily centered on sin and the dominion of the devil, rather than the focus on mortality which is present in Athanasius and John of Damascus.29 Christ takes human sin and frailty on his shoulders at the cross:

For, more obvious than the light of day is the immense sacrifice he has made for you, O man; he who was Lord became a slave, he who was rich became a pauper, the Word was made flesh, and the Son of God did not disdain to become the son of man. So may it please you to remember that, even if made out of nothing, you have not been redeemed out of nothing. In six days he created all things, and among them, you. On the other hand, for a period of thirty whole years he worked your salvation in the midst of the earth.30

25 26

Theologia Germanica, 63 “Everything that perished and died in Adam was raised again and made alive in Christ. And everything that was raised and made alive in Adam perished and died in Christ.” Theologia Germanica, 76 27 Theologia Germanica, 83 28 Posset, Franz. Pater Bernhardus: Martin Luther and Bernard of Clairvaux . (Kalamazoo: Cistercian, 1999) 29 “For when sin is forgiven it is certain that the devil is driven out from the sinner‟s heart, and for this reason Christ embraced all sinners in his statement: „Now sentence is being passed on this world, now the prince of this world is overthrown.‟ God removes the sin of the one who makes humble confession, and thereby the d evil loses the sovereignty he had gained over the human heart.” Walsh, Kilian (Translator) Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs Vol. I (Kalamazoo: Cistercian, 1971) 6:4, 34 30 Song of Songs 11. III:7, 75

Christ took human nature upon himself, and defeated sin along with captivity to the devil, by his death on the cross. Not only is sin taken away in Bernard‟s view, but humanity is also restored to a state of grace. He writes:

Covering my eyes with his own he adorned my interior faculties with the twin lights of faith and understanding. Joining his mouth to this dead mouth of mine, he gave the kiss of peace, for while we were yet sinners and dead to righteousness, he reconciled us to God. Setting his mouth to mine he breathed into it a second time the breath of life, but this time a holier life; for at first he created me a living being, then re-made me a lifegiving spirit. As he placed his hands on mine, I was imbued with the power of doing good, with the grace of obedience.31

Utilizing the imagery of the kiss of a bridegroom, Bernard purports that Christ gives his bride, the soul, that which belongs to himself by nature. He takes death and sin, destroying it on the cross, and grants righteousness, reconciliation, and life. This results in the restoration of humanity and union with God.32 Bernard‟s theology is thoroughly Christocentric.33 He emphasizes reconciliation through the cross in his writings, and describes the exchange in terms of sin and righteousness. Christ takes sin and death upon himself on the cross, and grants life and righteousness to the believer.34 This is taught alongside of the conception that these benefits are given through a mystical union of the soul with God. In Bernard, there is a synthesis of legal and ontic soteric language that is mirrored in Luther‟s writings.35

31 32

Song of Songs 16, II.2, 116 “In the first work He gave me myself; in the second, Himself: and when He gave me Himself, He restored me to myself again.”Connolly, Terence L. (Translator) Saint Bernard On the Love of God (New York: Spiritual, 1937) V, 25 33 Posset, Pater Bernhardus, 235-307 34 Bernard identifies the Christian‟s merit with Christ himself, “He gave Himself to merit for us, He retains Himself to be our reward, He offers Himself as the food of saintly souls, He gives himself as the price of the redemption of those in captivity.” On the Love of God VII, 35-36 In this sense, Bernard approaches Luther‟s doctrine of imputed righteousness. 35 Look for example at the language used here, which sounds thoroughly “Lutheran”: “ You were sinning, oh man, in darkness and in the shadow of death through ignorance of truth. You were sitting bound by the chains of sin. He down to prison not to torture you, but to rescue you from the power of darkness. And first the Teacher of truth dispelled the darkness of ignorance by the light of His wisdom. The by the righteousness of faith he loosed the bonds of sin, freely justifying the sinner.” Song of Songs XV, 121

The Great Exchange in Luther The great exchange formula is prominent in Luther‟s writings throughout his career. In this essay I will be focusing on one particular work which utilizes the idea regularly, and does so with both legal and ontic implications. That work is “On Christian Liberty.” This book, one of Luther‟s so-called “Reformation treatises” is his first lengthy treatise on the newly discovered doctrine of justification by faith, and its practical implications for the Christian believer. Luther argues that, contrary to much of popular medieval piety, outward works do not affect righteousness, because righteousness arises in the soul.36 This inward righteousness, rather than arising through works, comes through Christ received by faith. “Hence it is clear that, as the soul needs only the Word for its life and righteousness, so it is justified by faith alone and not by any works.”37 This faith, through receiving the person of Christ, has a twofold effect; it creates spiritual life, and forgives sin through Christ‟s merit.38 Thus, like Athanasius, Diognetus, and Bernard, Luther emphasizes both ontological and legal soteriological metaphors. He differentiates himself from late medieval soteriology, not by rejecting every sense of infused righteousness, but by proclaiming faith as the sole means by which it is received. Luther uses image of a bride and groom, similar to the writing of Bernard. He writes that “this rich and godly Bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil and adorns her with all His good.”39 In this metaphor, Luther purports that there is an exchange that centers around sin and righteousness, but is not limited to sin and righteousness. He writes,

From what has been said it is easily seen whence faith has such great power, and why no good work, nor all good works together can equal it: no work can cling to the Word of God nor be in the soul: in the soul faith alone and the Word have sway. As the Word is, so it makes the soul, as heated iron glows like fire because of the union of fire with it. It is clear then that a Christian man has in his faith all that he needs, and needs no works to

“It is evident that no external thing, whatsoever it be, has any influence whatever in producing Christian righteousness or liberty, nor in producing unrighteousness or bondage.” “Treatise on Christian Liberty,” Luther, Martin. Works of Martin Luther Vol. II (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1943), 313 37 Treatise on Christian Liberty, 315 38 “When you have learned this, you will know that you need Christ, Who suffered and rose again for you, that, believing in Him, you may through this faith become a new man, in that all your sins are forgiven, and you are justified by the merits of another, namely, of Christ alone.”, 315 39 Christian Liberty, 321

justify him.40 Luther‟s formulation of sola fide within this treatise is placed within the context of the great exchange. This exchange is not described as a purely legal transaction, but the union of the soul with the Logos. Through this union, the attributes of Christ are given to the believer, and the attributes of humanity are given to Christ. Luther claims that “if a touch of Christ healed, how much more will this most tender touch in the spirit, rather this absorbing of the Word, communicate to the soul all things that are the Word‟s”41 This communication involves being “justified by the Word of God, sanctified, made true and peaceful and free, filled with every blessing and made truly a child of God.”42 Luther places all soteriological blessings within this exchange context, including justification, sanctification, and adoption. In this treatise, it becomes apparent that Luther is utilizing thoroughly Patristic, and thus catholic, categories wherein he argues for the imputation of righteousness. Imputed righteousness is not an isolated even in the heavenly law-courts, but is in the broader context of exchange which is utilized by Athanasius, Irenaeus, Justin, the Theologia Germanica, Bernard, and the author of Diognetus. Christ takes human nature upon himself, and all that entails; consequently he gives humanity that which properly belongs to him, including sonship, justification, immortality, and holiness.

Exchange in the Finnish School of Luther Interpretation The Finnish school of Luther interpretation, initiated by Tuomo Mannermaa‟s work on Luther‟s Galatians commentary, seeks to find common ground between Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox theology; this is done primarily through the contention that theosis is a prominent theme in Luther‟s thought.43 This has caused many interpreters to rethink Luther‟s doctrine of justification, as well as the relationship between legal and ontological categories in Lutheran

40 41

Christian Liberty, 318 Christian Liberty, 318 42 Christian Liberty, 318 43 On the Finnish interpretation see: Mannermaa, Tuomo. Christ Present in Faith: Luther’s View of Justification . Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005); Braaten, Carl E. et al. Union With Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998); Schumacher, William W. Who do I Say that You Are? Anthropology and the Theology of Theosis in the Finnish School of Tuomo Mannermaa . (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2010); Mannermaa, Tuomo. Two Kinds of Love: Martin Luther’s Religious World (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010); Vainio, Olli Pekka. Engaging Luther: A New Theological Assessment. (Eugene: Cascade, 2010)

soteriology. Of particular interest to the topic at hand is the contention of Mannermaa that there is a communicatio idiomatum at work between the believer and Christ, wherein attributes of the respective parties are transferred to one another. Mannermaa purports that Luther teaches a union of persons through faith; he labels this the unio personalis. Mannermaa writes that: “The idea of the unio personalis makes it obvious once again that Luther regards the ontological nature of the presence of Christ as absolutely real. Christ is freedom, righteousness, and life, and by his presence he drives sin, death, and curse away from the believer, making these „disappear.‟”44 This allows Luther to speak of Christ sharing both his righteousness, and his divine life with the believer. Thus the Patristic conception of deification and the Protestant contention of imputed righteousness are held together. In Mannermaa‟s view, this ontological aspect of Luther‟s theology is “an integral part of Luther‟s doctrine of justification.”45 Mystical union is included within the concept of justification. The great exchange in this approach is likened to this communicatio idiomatum present in Christological discussions of the relationship between Christ‟s two natures. Human qualities, such as sin and mortality, are taken from the believer by Christ, and Christ transfers his righteousness and divinity to the human person. In this manner, Mannermaa‟s proposal emphasizes the continuity between Luther and Athanasius. He is quick to point out that the sense of communication is “understood in an analogical way.”46 Humanity shares in divinity, but not in the same sense that Christ‟s humanity does through the incarnation. I think that Mannermaa is essentially correct that there is a sense in which Luther speaks of deification. For Luther, the great exchange is not simply a transaction in the sense of imputation, but involves a transfer of attributes through mystical union. As far as this goes, he supports my thesis. However, the Finnish school has tended to downplay Luther‟s forensic language beyond what the evidence allows. To try and conflate justification and theosis goes beyond the intention of Luther or the other early Reformers.47 The solution to the various concerns raised regarding Luther‟s view of justification is not to pit Luther‟s concern for mystical union against imputation, but to affirm both, placing them in
44 45

Mannermaa, Christ Present in Faith, 40 Mannermaa, Christ Present in Faith, 41 46 Mannermaa, Christ Present in Faith, 21 47 There is good evidence for imputation in: Clark, R. Scott “Iustitia Imputata Christi: Alien of Proper to Luther‟s Doctrine of Justification,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 70 (2006), 269-310, though I disagree with many of Clark‟s critiques of the Finnish school of thought.

consort with one another. Though Mannermaa is certainly correct in asserting that in “Luther‟s theology, justification in the meaning of the FC and the communication of attributes are both expressions and different sides of the same event”48, I disagree with the gap he proposes between Luther‟s theology and that of the Formula of Concord.49 Luther certainly had no problem in using legal categories to describe justification; this is apparent in his approval of Melancthon‟s writings in which legal categories are prominent, or even exclusive. Justification need not be conflated with mystical union, but both can be affirmed within the context of the great exchange.50 In the exchange, there is a concept much broader than justification, wherein the reformational categories of imputation and the cancelling of debt can coexist harmoniously with a doctrine of theosis. Luther‟s catholicity may be found, not necessarily in the doctrine of justification itself, but in the great exchange—the context in which justification is placed. Whether or not Luther‟s doctrine of justification is unanimously taught in the Patristic or medieval period, it is commensurate with Patristic and medieval concerns.

The Graced Exchange Roman Catholic theologian Daniel Keating has written on the subject of exchange within the context of theosis, cleverly renaming the concept “the graced exchange.” He defines this formula in the following manner: “In essence, this formula states that the eternal Son of God became what we are so that we might become what he is.”51 Keating defines the exchange in its Athanasian form, articulating the fact that God became man so that humanity might be divinized. Keating is not willing to pit this perspective against the reformation tradition but admits that,

The formula of exchange is not lacking in the works of the Protestant Reformers. In a Christmas sermon for 1514, Martin Luther writes: “For the Word became flesh precisely so that the flesh may become word. In other words: God becomes man so that man may become God.” John Calvin gives eloquent expression to this exchange by drawing out the

48 49

Christ Present in Faith, 22 “Justification does not merely denote the imputation of Christ‟s merit to the sinner, which would then be followed by the inhabitatio Dei as a separate phenomenon.” Christ Present in Faith, 22 50 Marquart makes many of these same points: Marquart, Kurt. “Luther and Theosis,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 64/3 (2000) 182-205 51 Deification and Grace, 11

various ways in which the grace of God in Christ has enriched us.52

Keating correctly observes that this formula is thoroughly catholic, encapsulating the beliefs of Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and even Reformed writers. There is an emphasis in Keating‟s work on the Adam—Christ parallel which is central to Irenaeus‟ and Athanasius‟ formulation of the exchange formula. Adam, the first human, lost original righteousness by disobeying God‟s command. This placed all of humanity in the bonds of sin, awaiting rescue which comes through the arrival of the second Adam: “by being born of Mary in our humanity, the Son of God assumes our nature in order to effect the restoration of that nature.”53 Christ takes a broken nature, and heals it through the incarnation. It is not merely the incarnation, however, which is central to the great exchange:

By offering himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin, the Son takes our punishment upon himself, cleanses our nature from the stain of Adam‟s sin, and inaugurates the new humanity. And by his resurrection and ascension, he raises up our nature to new life, and opens up the way for “many sons” (Heb 2:10) to be joined to their heavenly Father (Eph 2:6)54 Keating captures two aspects which are essential to Luther‟s understanding of the great exchange. First, he emphasizes the nature of punishment; through Adam, all are under a great debt—a punishment—which must be paid. It is Christ who pays this debt on behalf of humanity, granting them release from this punishment. Second, Keating purports that the exchange involves the death of Adamic humanity, and the resurrection of a new humanity in Christ. Thus, like Luther, Keating is willing to hold the legal and ontological aspects of the exchange together.

Conclusion There are several trajectories that can be drawn between Luther, Patristic theology, medieval theology, and contemporary formulations of the great exchange. In all of the writers examined above, there is a concern to expound upon Paul‟s conviction that there is an exchange that occurs
52 53

Deification and Grace, 15 Deification and Grace, 25 54 Deification and Grace, 25

between Christ and humanity. That which humanity inherited through the fall was taken by Christ; healing and restoration come through Christ, and are given to humanity through the incarnation, death, and resurrection. Certain writers emphasize theosis in this context, such as Athanasius, John of Damascus, and the Theologia Germanica. In this view, the great exchange involves both a humanization of God through the incarnation, and a divinization of humanity through the resurrection. Others emphasize the legal aspects of the exchange. This is apparent in Bernard of Clairvaux, Diognetus, and Luther, where the focus of redemption is the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of righteousness. The emphasis of these various writers need not be pitted against one another, as if salvation is either a legal transaction, or an ontological process. In Luther‟s theology, the two perspectives are held in consort with one another. The great exchange motif allows for both of these soteriological models, because this motif is centered on the person of Christ. Through Christ, one receives all that belongs to him; this includes his righteousness, his resurrection life, immortality, incorruptibility, and blessedness. These various truths connected with the great exchange are all essential aspects of the Christian life, and none need by neglected. In Eastern Orthodox theologies, legal categories are eschewed, almost completely replaced by discussions about ontology. In Protestant theology, the opposite is the case; salvation is a legal exchange, and other aspects of salvation are subsidiary. A balanced Biblical theology emphasizes both truths; I contend that this can be accomplished through recapturing Luther‟s multifaceted great exchange formula.