Posts Tagged ‘Paul Dohse’s heresy


Perfect Obedience to God’s Law–The Standard for Justification.

I thought it might be helpful to examine a couple of the assertions Paul Dohse has made concerning the doctrine of justification before God in the light of Scripture.

His position is:

1. It is not Christ’s righteousness but God the Father’s rightousness that is imputed to the sinner. He offers Romans 8:30 as a proof-text for this belief.

2. God’s law does not require the sinner’s perfect obedience for his justification.

3. Romans two has nothing to do with justification but describes the direction of the believer in sanctification.

4. There is no real revealed standard for justification. That is, God does not require a perfect obedience from sinners.

This is what he wrote:

“But Paul makes it clear: God imputed a righteousness that is “apart from the law.” I assume he is referring to Romans 3:21.

The question we should ask here is whether Paul says “God imputes a righteousness that is apart from the law” or “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law?” It is, of course, my view that the latter is what the apostle actually intended. The righteousness God demands cannot be defined apart from His revealed truth. The reality is, whatever God does within the bounds of his holy character is righteous. He is not subject to any standard that has been imposed on him externally. Who is to say “there is unrighteousness with God?” Now we must ask, is it possible for a mere human being to be conformed to the undefined standard that characterizes God’s righteousness? Are we to believe that God makes us absolutely holy, as he is, so that whatever we do is indisputably righteous? Of course not! The clear teaching of the Scriptures is that God holds us accountable to obey his law, that is, his revealed will. As far as mere human beings are concerned, there is no righteousness that is “apart from the law,” i.e., God’s revealed will.

There are two separate and distinct issues under consideration in Romans chapters two and three. If we fail to distinguish between those two issues, we are bound to misunderstand Paul’s teaching on justification before God. In fact, a clear and unmistakable contradiction would exist between Romans 2:13 and Romans 3:20. If both these verses refer to the basis of justification, his teaching would be that justification is through DOING what the law demands and NOT through DOING what the Law demands at the same time. Such a contradiction is unthinkable. The question, then, is not whether justification before God is based on perfect conformity to his law. Paul makes that clear in chapter two of Romans. The reason no sinful human being will be justified by the law is not that the law cannot declare righteous those who obey it, but that there are no members of Adam’s race who obey it as God has demanded they obey it. That is to say, it is not that the law is unable to justify anyone; it is that the law is unable to justify sinners.

The next question I would ask is, What does the apostle mean by “the righteousness of God” in this context. I believe this phrase refers not to an attribute of God, but to God’s activity in justifying sinners or in other words, God’s righteous method of justifying sinners. Consider how Paul uses this term in Romans 10: 2-3 speaking about his desire for Israel’s salvation. He wrote “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”

If the phrase, “the righteousness of God” refers to God’s method of justifying sinners, the question here is not whether sinners are justified by law keeping or apart from law keeping. The question is whether it is in the Law or in the gospel that this method, the righteousness of God, is manifested. The answer is that though the Old Testament Scriptures bore witness to this method of justification, by types, shadows, and promises, the full-blown gospel was not manifested by the Law. This manifestation is made “apart from the Law.”

2. Paul D. wrote: “The author cites Romans 2:13 as a standard for justification regarding believers, but it is not. That verse speaks of the direction of the saved, and not the perfection in comparison to those who are unsaved. This is clear if you observe the preceding text in 2:6-11:”

Were it not for the context of the passage he cites, I might be inclined to agree with his assessment of the passage. It is clear to anyone who is acquainted with the New Testament Scriptures that there is a clear directional difference between the justified and the unjustified, but the context of this passage makes his view of the passage impossible.

To see this, one must only ask, What is the point the apostle is arguing in Romans 1:18-3:20? It is almost universally recognized that the apostle is here demonstrating the universal necessity for justification before God. His specific point in Romans two is God’s impartiality in judgment. It does not matter who you are, how or in what nation you were born, what rituals have been performed for you, how much you know, to what religion you adhere, how respectable you are or how indignant you can be about the sins of others, you will all be judged by God’s righteous standard. The apostle refers to God’s “righteous judgment” three times in the verses immediately preceding the passage in question. The issue is clearly judicial in nature.

There are several questions that cry out for an answer in light of Paul D’s assertion:

1. If these verses are talking about sanctification, what consideration moved the apostle to introduce that concept in a passage that is clearly dealing with the universal need for justification?

2. What level of “persevering continuance in well-doing” is necessary to enable the sinner to stand justified in the “righteous judgment of God” in which God will render to each one according to his works? Is close good enough? Suppose a person does the best he can and only offends in one point of the law, will that be good enough?

3. Why does the apostle write, “the doers of the Law will be justified,” if these verses are talking about “the direction of the saved,” that is, sanctification? Do believers ever reach a level of obedience in sanctification that merits justification?

4. If “persevering continuance in well-doing” describes “the direction of the saved,” would that not indicate that sanctification precedes justification? Paul D. has made a big deal over justification being a “done deal.” Now we have to move on to sanctification. The apostle wrote, . . . the doers of the Law WILL BE justified.” Would that not indicate that the order would be a persevering continuance in well-doing that indicates the direction of the saints, i.e., doing the Law and THEN they will be justified? This is the exact opposite of what Paul D. has argued. Do we not believe that the moment a sinner believes the gospel, he has eternal life? This passage says God WILL GRANT eternal life to those who follow the path described. If these words describe the direction of the believer and not God’s inflexible and impartial standard of judgment for all people, would we not have to conclude that God did not grant eternal life until the end of that life-long pattern of well-doing?

5. If this passage does not describe God’s righteous standard of judgment, is there any standard and if so, where is it stated?