Justified in the Spirit: Creation, Redemption, and the Triune God

Justified in the Spirit: Creation, Redemption, and the Triune God

Justified in the Spirit: Creation, Redemption, and the Triune God

Justified in the Spirit: Creation, Redemption, and the Triune God


Historically, the premise of justification by grace through faith has been debated according to Protestant and Catholic understandings. It has, therefore, been limited to the question of whether justification is the reception of forgiveness by faith along or the personal transformation that occurs as we cooperate with grace. Though some recent ecumenical discussions have sought to link to the two, the results have been largely imprecise.

Here Frank D. Macchia seeks not so much to link Protestant and Catholic views as to set them both within a larger framework -- the Spirit of Life as the realm of God's favor. The resulting pneumatological theology of justification by faith is broadly Trinitarian, ecclesiological, and eschatological in orientation.


“All the works of God end in the presence of the Spirit.” This statement by Jürgen Moltmann represents the assumption from which this book proceeds. and this insight applies as much to justification as to sanctification and glorification. At its essence, “justification” refers fundamentally to the gift of righteousness (or “just relation”) that is granted to the sinner, what might be called a “rightwising” or “righteousing” of flesh. This gift of righteousness involves God’s self-justification as the faithful Creator and covenant partner to creation; but it also involves the participation of the creature, for the kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Seen from the lens of the Spirit, this right relationship is a mutual indwelling that has communion and the “swallowing up” of mortality by life as its substance (2 Cor. 5:4). It is based on the selfgiving embrace of the triune God and is manifested in new birth, witness, and, ultimately, resurrection. There is no lens through which to view salvation that is not realized and perfected in the presence of the Spirit and that does not, therefore, also begin there for the sinful creature.

I refer here not merely to the presence of the Spirit as realized now in the context of the Christian life, community, and witness. I refer also and especially to the eschatological fulfillment of the Spirit’s indwelling in the

1. Jürgen Moltmann, God in Creation: a New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, trans. Margaret Kohl (New York: Harper and Row, 1985), p. 96.

2. E. P. Sanders proposes the term “righteousing” rather than the old English “rightwising.” See Sanders, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), p. 6.

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