Imputation: Lusk or the Heidelberg Catechism?

You can’t have both.

Lusk: “Justification requires no transfer or imputation of anything. It does not force us to reify ‘righteousness’ into something that can be shuffled around in heavenly accounting books” (Richard Lusk, “A Response to ‘The Biblical Plan of Salvation'” in The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision: The Knox Theological Seminary Colloquium on the Federal Vision [Fort Lauderdale: Knox Theological Seminary, 2004], 142).

Now the HC, Q/A 60: “How are you right with God (i.e. justified/righteous)? Only by true faith in Jesus Christ…without any merit of mine, only by sheer grace, God grants and imputes to me the…righteousness…of Christ.”

I’ve bolded the key words under observation. These statements are completely at odds. One cannot honestly harmonize the two.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

10 Replies to “Imputation: Lusk or the Heidelberg Catechism?”

  1. If I read Lusk correctly, I think “we can have both”.

    The issue is this:

    Rich Lusk is not arguing against “imputation”; he is simply arguing against interpreting the word as “transfer”.
    I would bet $2 (maybe $3) that Rich would affirm every word in HC Q&A 60. He would simply argue that the statement should be interpreted to mean that God “reckons” to me the righteousness of Christ.

    To “transfer” something requires that it leaves one place and goes to another. But Christ’s righteousness cannot be separated from his Person. His righteousness never leaves him and goes to someone else. So, according to Lusk, when God “imputes” the Righteousness of Christ to me, He is not “transferring” Righteousness (or merit) to me; rather, He is “accounting” me Righteous in Christ.

    From what I’ve read, Lusk seems to affirm “imputation”. And HC affirms it too.

    Lusk denies that God “transfers” righteousness; but HC 60 doesn’t define “imputation” that way.

    So I think we can have both Lusk and HC 60.

    I’ll try to check back at this blog to see your comments and to see if I am missing something big here.



  2. Steven Welch asks: “What is the issue?”

    This is the tactic, taken from the secular academy, of incessant question-asking to fog issues. He spelled it out (exposing Federal Vision doctrine as not Reformed). The issue is clear in the post.

    This tactic in the secular academy that has been adopted by FVists is called “disingenuous bewilderment.”


  3. Thanks for the dialogue.

    I’ve read a bit more; I’m still not convinced that Lusk boldly or clearly affirms the classic Reformed (Westminster/3 Forms) teaching that the active obedience of Christ is imputed to the believer for his (the believer’s) justification (taking the classic Reformed view of “one” justification, not “two”).

    I’m open to dialogue, and will note publicly if I’m wrong. Please see my previous comment on the last Willimon post for my email address if you wish to discuss it more.

    Again, thanks for the comments! Keep it up!



  4. The question form inherently gives cover to the questioner because we assign innocence and a desire to learn to the questioner instinctively (it’s childlike to ask questions!), so question-asking can be exploited easily by people who have already crossed the line where they use language sophistically and disingenuously.

    Let’s say the blog owner here makes the statement: “Jesus rose from the dead.”

    Let’s say I don’t believe Jesus is God, but I want to cloak that ultimate position and just fog this environment. I’ll ask a question!

    “What does it mean that He was dead?”

    Many Reformed here of good will will take that as an innocent question (you who are so easy to yank around) and will give me a thoughtful answer. “Jesus was taken dead down off the cross and put in a tomb and a stone rolled in to the entrance. His body died.”

    So I’ll reply with another question:

    “So if he’s God how do we know his body was really dead, since he rose from the tomb eventually anyway?”

    Repeat this process for about 27 questions before the thread dies out and the environment is thoroughly dispirited and fogged. Disingenuous people pretending to have good will towards a subject are like vampires in how they will suck the blood out of an environment. The only advantage, though it’s a big one, they get is to dispirit people who know the truth. They are dispirited in being able to communicate it. But it’s only because of the presence of the trolls, like Federal Visionists.

    May they find what they are looking for in the afterlife…


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: