There is a deep and abiding drive to reduce justification to a legal, forensic act by God for the grace-receiving human. Thus, it becomes double imputation: Christ’s righteousness imputed to us and our sinfulness to Christ. That’s it. No minimization here of the importance of God doing for us what we can’t do and God’s grace giving us the bounties of redemption.
But is this what justification is? We can ask, Is this all justification is? The answer for Michael Gorman is No.
He proposes — after studying principal passages from Galatians 2:15-21 to 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 to the whole of Romans (quite the charts in his study) — Three R’s to Justification (my terms): Participating in Christ: Explorations in Paul’s Theology and Spirituality (#ad).
What are they?
Justification for Gorman is about participation in Christ and it is a transformation through dying and rising with Christ. There are in fact Three R’s:
- Righteousness, which means “righteous-ification” and “justice-ification”
These R’s are not just standings before God but transformative because we are “in Christ,” because we participate in Christ. We are made right and become righteous/just. We are raised with Christ for a new life. And we are reconciled with God and through that with others.