Imputation and Double Imputation

Thursday, May 11, 2006

We are going to have our Romans 4 class tomorrow. I had thought that this chapter was pretty straightforward, but no, I was told. There is this issue of imputation and double imputation of which I have only just heard about.

I checked Theopedia, double imputation is a doctrine related to justification, which views the concept of imputation as applying both to Christ and believers. While on one hand, our sins are imputed to Christ who bore them on the cross, Christ's righteousness is imputed to believers who are seen by God as cloaked in the righteousness of Christ.

And imputation refers to the transfer of benefit or harm from one individual to another.

    That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness." But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. ~ Rom 4:22-25 (ESV)
The word ελογισθη is interpreted as counted (ESV), credited (NIV), reckoned (ASV), imputed (KJV).

So the question on imputation that arises in v.22 is this: is faith counted as righteousness? Faith recognised as righteousness? That if I have faith, I have righteousness? If it is, won't it count as justification by works after all?

And what about double imputation? Christ's righteousness imputed on us?

I am sure the answer to both the issues above is a "no". I need to find out why.

Picture by John Evans

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9 comment(s)

  1. "The point of the word "ungodly" here is to stress that faith is not our righteousness. Faith believes in him who justifies the ungodly. When faith is born, we are still ungodly. Faith will begin to overcome our ungodliness. But in the beginning of the Christian life - where justification happens - we are all ungodly. Godly works do not begin to have a role in our lives until we are justified. We are declared righteous by faith alone while we are still ungodly. And that is the only way any of us can have hope that God is on our side so that we can now make headway in the fight against ungodliness. He is for us. And if God is for us, who can stand against us?"

  2. Hi Aaron,
    Thanks for your thoughts. The question I am asking though is that when Paul says that Abraham's faith is reckoned or imputed as righteousness, what does it really means? Does reckoning or accounted means intrinsically is? Is Abraham because of his faith now becomes intrinsically righteous? I agree with you that we are ungodly from the start but by virtue of the reckoning do we become righteous? Some people tend to think so. I am not convinced but need to understand why. On the other hand, when one is justified, we tend to say that the slate is wiped clean - i think this is our contemporary saying - so wouldn't that be considered as righteousness? So we are reckoned righteous, we are righteous but I don't feel at all righteous. See my dilemma? Just can't get the 2 and 2 together yet.

    I have just bought What's at Stake in the Current Debates: Justification, by Robert Gundry, DA Carson et al. It is going to be a difficult long read but I think I'll need to dig in. Though I am not really in the reading mood lately ... don't know why. But I have to, at least I'd be slightly more prepared for class today but I'd most probably end up reticent as usual in the midst of all the scholars!! :)

  3. Maeghan,

    Try this one on for size:

    Faith is counted unto righteousness.

    I don't see the act of faith as a work, but rather a mindset. It requires no work. I believe it is the Spirit in us that drives us to do good works. That Spirit is activated through faith.

    What christ imputed to us what His Spirit. The righteousness is merely in the nature of God's Spirit. God sees the His own Spirit in us and declares us Righteous.

    All of this is accomplished through faith.

    God Bless

  4. When we are justified, we are set in right relationship with God, we are put together the way we are supposed to be or rather, our fundamental being is made right. We are never right in ourselves but only in response to God's Spirit working in & through us. I always understood it that justification was the start and then sanctification was the process where we are being cleansed or made holy. This is a life long process that won't be complete until we are with God. I guess this isn't really the answer to your dilemma but maybe it's a start. I think God looks at Christ's righteousness as payment for the sins of all who have put their faith in Him.

  5. Doug,
    Try this one on for size:
    Faith is counted unto righteousness.

    Not that it does not fit, I don't know how to put it on! lol
    ... thought about it over and over, still don't get "unto righteousness" If "unto" means "to", "by" or "until",
    Faith is counted to righteousness?
    Faith is counted by righteousness?
    Faith is counted until righteousness?

    a mindset. It requires no work

    But how would one arrive at the mindset? I am with you, faith is not works but there are those who see it as. And v.3 Paul plays into the hands of the Jews because to them, faith and deciding to believe is works. Then v.4-5 is where Paul gives it a twist after drawing them into the "trap".

  6. Julia,
    I think my "dilemma" is an overstatement! haha
    I like your summarisation of justification and sanctification. Justification as the beginning and sanctification as the process.

    I am sorry you guys will have to bear with me on all these, at least until we finish Romans - which still has quite a long way to go. But as Doug said, we can learn together :)

  7. Glad to hear you are not having a personal crisis (dilemma) over this verse. And I am excited to hear what you have to say about the rest of Romans.

  8. Maeghan,

    I have always taken 'Unto' to mean either to or towards.

    So: [Our] faith is counted towards [our] righteosness.

    It is not a direct replacement, but a litmus of one's righteousness.

    To me the faith is the product of what we know, feel, and believe. It is not just an issue of the heart, nor of the mind (I guess mindset would be an incomplete word to use too).

    Attitude also plays a part because faith in Christ is also an issue of submission: I surrender my life and will to God, knowing that He will take care of me.

    Faith is the vehicle by which our reliationship with Christ exists, not religion, traditions, or works. Hense Paul could say what he said without flinching.

    God Bless

  9. Yup, well stated.

    Faith is the vehicle by which our reliationship with Christ exists, not religion, traditions, or works.

    I'd add feeling to that list - no matter how we feel, down and out or up and about, it is our faith in him that count.