Micah Redding — faith in humanity's future

In this series:

imputed righteousness and switching tracks

In my ongoing quest to remove everything unreal from my religious life, I’ve run head-on into the concept of imputed righteousness.

If you’re not familiar with the idea, it’s the cornerstone of Calvinist theology, and the idea many people think is the core of Christianity. Expressed in the most generous way, it’s the idea that when Jesus died, his righteousness got credited to us, and God now considers us righteous without regards to our actual behavior or character.

To many people, this is what grace and forgiveness and salvation means.

But this seems problematic to me. It makes Christianity a matter of God’s scoreboard in the sky, not something that actually has to do with our quality of life. Taken to its logical conclusion, you would think that you could feel like a guilty miserable wretch all of your life, and still hold forth your existence as the Christian ideal. After all, it’s not about real righteousness, it’s about imputed righteousness.

This was my assumption for much of my theological life. But reading the apostle Paul and some of the other New Testament letters made me increasingly uncomfortable with the idea. Paul didn’t just claim that his hearers had been cleansed from their sins in some abstract sense, he claimed that they had been cleansed from their consciousness of guilt, from their awareness of sin.

That he could make such a claim struck me as remarkable. I certainly couldn’t say that about the Christians I knew, many of whom were wracked with guilt and insecurity. And Paul didn’t seem to think that this was an incidental point, he seemed to think this was a major point (if not the point) of Christianity.

Paul seemed to believe that the message of Jesus actually removes the feeling of guilt and sin from its hearers.

When I realized this is what he was saying, I couldn’t understand how it was possible. But I saw that this would be a much more consequential, much more concrete, thing. The scriptures wouldn’t be seen as talking about invisible scoreboards and diagrams, but about real changes in the minds and emotions of human beings. Christianity would be about the kind of life one can experience after being freed from guilt, the real-world transformation brought about by Jesus’ message.

My mind had switched tracks.

Next: imputed righteousness, part 2


Theodore A. Jones:

"It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13 What is actually wrong with the Christianity you hear and see is that it is pseudo i. e. entirely false. The two facts that show the contemporary system to be false are (a) the crucifixion of Jesus is an accountable sin caused by bloodshed and (b) a law was added to the law after Jesus' crucifixion to increase it as an accountable sin for all. The term "died for our sins" does not mean "died in place of our sins" but his death by bloodshed increased our sins by one. Therefore the righteousness of God is only imputed to the individual who has the faith to confess directly to God of being truly sorry Jesus' life was lost by bloodshed when he was crucified and baptized in water to receive the forgiveness of past sins. Ref. the Acts 2 message. The support that a law has been added is Rom. 2:13 & 5:20 & Heb. 7:12 these are three of the NT confirms and there are more if one seeks them out.