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The Theological Journal of Emanuel University

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Reformed Orthodoxy on Imputation. Active and Passive Justification

John V. Fesko
Published Online: 2016-10-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/perc-2016-0016


The doctrine of imputation is common to Early Modern Lutheran and Reformed theology, but Reformed orthodox theologians employed the distinction between the active and passive justification of the believer. Active justification is the objective imputation of Christ’s righteousness and passive justification is the subjective reception of the same. This distinction is a unique contribution in Reformed orthodox dogmatics and was used in polemics against Roman Catholic, Arminian, and Socinian theologians. This essay also compares Reformed orthodox formulations with Lutheran orthodox understandings of how they preserved the extra nos of Christ’s righteousness in justification. The Reformed orthodox employed the active-passive justification distinction in conjunction with the decree and the doctrine of the covenant of redemption, whereas the Lutheran orthodox logically placed justification first in the order of salvation. Both groups maintain the extra nos of Christ’s imputed righteousness but do so in different ways.

Keywords: imputation; active justification; passive justification; justification; union with Christ


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-10-21

Published in Print: 2016-12-01

Citation Information: Perichoresis, Volume 14, Issue 3, Pages 61–80, ISSN (Online) 2284-7308, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/perc-2016-0016.

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© 2016 John V. Fesko, published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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