Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Huberianism in Brief

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to what Huberianism actually is. A common misconception is that Samuel Huber was a Universalist -- that he taught all people were going to heaven. This is false as his own words testify:
Those theologians charge that I have set forth a universal justification, and indeed of such a kind that makes every person righteous by the very act of salvation and by participation, and simply carries them away into heaven....But I have never dreamed or written anything of this sort. (P. 17: http://www.wlsessays.net/files/Huber%20Translations_0.pdf)

Is it genuine ignorance or a conniving attempt to cover up the historical truth? The author of this article in Reclaim News, whose name I can't find, makes the assertion that Huber was a Universalist. He states, among other ridiculous ideas, thus: "Yes, Huber was condemned in the 16th Century because he was a Universalist, not because he taught Objective Justification." It's most disturbing that he's not alone in his assertion and that most of those who relentlessly hold to universal justification make this unfounded claim. The Wittenberg theologians who condemned his heresies even stated as such in their Theses Opposed to Huberianism:

Thesis 12
In addition, whether all men are, in fact, saved, including those who do not believe in Christ. This, likewise, is not, at the moment, being called into question.

Thesis 13
For although that conclusion can most definitely be reached from Huber’s doctrine as a consequence affirmed by the testimonies of Christ and the apostles, nevertheless, since Huber directly and intentionally does not teach in such a way, we are still willing not to charge him directly with that paradox. (Theses Opposed to Huberianism, 15-16)
It seems as if the claim of Huber's universalism is a distraction employed to hide the real issue. Take a look at the second part of the author's assertion when he claims Huber wasn't condemned "because he taught Objective Justification." This is even more patently false! As we will see from his own words he taught that "God, considering the satisfaction of Christ, became favorably disposed toward the entire human race because of that satisfaction...":
But I called universal justification that by which God, considering the satisfaction of Christ, became favorably disposed toward the entire human race because of that satisfaction, and thus he accepted it just as if everyone had made satisfaction for himself, with the law having been entirely fulfilled. In this respect it is sensibly called universal justification, not first by me, but by Paul. In it only that act of Christ’s merit and satisfaction is considered at the tribunal of God. However, people still do not possess justification by their own act unless they apprehend by faith that which was approved and ratified by God on behalf of all.
From Scripture we have Rom. 5, “And so, just as through the fault of one it resulted in condemnation for all, so also through the justification of one it resulted in justification of life for all people;” 2 Cor. 5 “When God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins toward them.” To “be reconciled” is certainly to remove the anger toward the human race. To “be reconciled with the world,” is to remove the anger toward all people, which those theologians…bitterly deny, not without blasphemy. And “not to impute sins” is to justify or to recognize as just, with the manner of speaking being taken up from the market place. Therefore, that justification comes upon all people no less than condemnation; that the world is reconciled; that by the very judgment of God, which God carried out in his own Son, sins are not imputed to us, but are imputed to Christ; and that satisfaction has been offered by him and has been accepted by the Father—that is to set forth universal justification in its own legitimate respect. (P. 17: http://www.wlsessays.net/files/Huber%20Translations_0.pdf)
Huber still insisted on faith, however, in the supposed universal justification declared by God in Christ for anyone to actually benefit from it as is shown above and in this quotation:

...nevertheless he does not yet lead a person by this participation into a state of salvation and eternal happiness, unless he will apply this benefit to himself by faith through word and sacraments, and so in this way participate. (P. 19: http://www.wlsessays.net/files/Huber%20Translations_0.pdf)

Do Huber's words sound familiar? That's because they are. His false teaching is being defended and promoted as Truth by current "confessional" Lutheran bodies such as the WELS, ELS, and the LCMS and their theologians. Consider their own words and compare them with Huber's. For the sake of brevity I'm leaving out the quotations which demonstrate that these current bodies affirm that faith is necessary. This should be a given much like it was with Huber's insistence on faith as well.
4:25." -- LCMS, (http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=415)

"1. We believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them righteous for the sake of Christ. This is the central message of Scripture upon which the very existence of the church depends." -- WELS, (http://www.wels.net/what-we-believe/statements-beliefs/this-we-believe/justification)

"God thereby reconciled the world to Himself, and by the resurrection of His Son declared it to be righteous in Christ. This declaration of universal righteousness is often termed “objective justification." -- ELS, (http://www.evangelicallutheransynod.org/beliefs/we-believe-teach-and-confess/)

"Jesus suffered and died as the representative of all humanity, and was condemned by God the Father on behalf of all humanity. In Christ’s condemnation, all humanity was vicariously condemned. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead – still as the representative of all humanity – and was, in his resurrection, thereby vindicated and justified by God the Father on behalf of all humanity. In Christ’s justification, all humanity was vicariously justified."

"In each case, the objective aspect of justification is tied very tightly to the death and resurrection of Christ. In each case, it is emphasized that justification and absolution are not received and possessed by individuals apart from faith, or before faith." -- Pr. David Jay Webber, ELS (Quote 1, Quote 2)

"God no longer looks upon sinful man with wrath, but 'before His divine tribunal' forgives the sins of mankind, does not impute their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 5:19). (CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS, by Francis Pieper, Volume 2, pages 398 & 399)

"The resurrection of Christ, is as Holy Writ teaches, the actual absolution of the whole world of sinners. Rom. 4: 25: 'Who was raised for our justification.'”
(CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS, by Francis Pieper, Volume 2, page 348)

Now that we've identified the false teaching, it's necessary to show how the Lutheran church condemned Huber's teaching. In the late 1500s the theologians at Wittenberg University wrote a series of theses dealing with Huber's teaching contained in a work called Theses Opposed to Huberianism. Another work to consider is A Clear Explanation of the Controversy Among the Wittenberg Theologians.

In those works the Wittenberg theologians declared Huber's teaching as false and condemned by the Christian Church when they wrote as such:

Our Churches have always taught and still teach the justification that is by faith and that pertains to believers, but that by no means extends to the whole world. Besides this justification by faith, Dr. Huber teaches some other justification that is equally common to the entire human race. (Hunnius, A Clear Explanation, 57)

...if we were all justified at the same time with a general justification and restored to the bosom of divine grace with sins being forgiven solely by the merit of Christ without faith, then does not the justification by faith so accurately passed down by St. Paul lie in ruins, since it is clearly not a necessity for us?

Huber will never be able to explain his way out of this nonsense of insoluble contradictions and most prodigious absurdities.  Therefore let him enjoy his justification, and let him bless his elect and sanctified people with it – Turks, Jews, and all unbelievers.  We, in the meantime, shall retain justification for believers only, as prescribed by all prophetic and apostolic Scripture. (Theses Opposed to Huberianism, 61, emphasis in original)

So where do we go from here? Where does this leave us considering all major "confessional Lutheran" church bodies embrace Huberianism? Recently the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (ELDoNA) released a series of theses concerning the article of justification. In the conclusion they faithfully reject Huberian universal/objective justification as taught by those in the three Synods mentioned earlier:

If all that were meant by "Objective Justification" were the acquisition of righteousness for all mankind so that there is a basis for God to declare an individual righteous through the God-given gift of faith receiving God's pledge to consider him entirely righteous and forgiven purely for the sake of Christ, we would merely caution against the term. Since, however, it is more than that -- the declaration that all mankind is sinless before God before and apart from faith in Christ -- this teaching is not only dangerous in its grossest abuse (crass universalism), but is in itself contrary to God's Word and the exhibition of the same by the Symbols of Christ's Church.

That the foregoing theses correctly reflect the doctrine of the symbolic books is demonstrated by the writings of the earliest generations of orthodox teachers of the faith confessed in the Book of Concord. Thus, the doctrine of "Objective Justification" (both the teaching and its terminology) is hereby rejected.(http://www.eldona.org/ELDoNA/Papers_files/Justification_2013.pdf)

In sum, if people are still defending a universal justification/absolution of the world they either are absolutely ignorant of Huberianism and its rejection by the Lutheran church or they choose to misconstrue what Huberianism actually is and continue to herald their false doctrine. There's no excuse now that there are translations of the old, already dealt with, controversy concerning universal justification. Thank God for the faithfulness of the bishop, pastors, and deacons of the ELDoNA for affirming the Christian, Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith alone.

P.S. -- Be aware of such claims as found in the Reclaim News article cited above that, "Briefly stated, Objective Justification means Christ died for the sins of the world..." This is ludicrous and is even known to be false by universal justification apologists. Universal/Objective justification is not merely "Christ died for all" but it's the philosophy that because of Christ's Sacrifice, God has absolved the entire human race -- justified them -- without faith.

Update 10/23/13: I've added to the second Huber quotation to show more clearly Huber's teaching and his interpretation of key UOJ passages. The reader will notice that the passages Huber misinterprets are the same as the ones modern church bodies use to defend UOJ. If one is inclined to purchase the very affordable theses by the Wittenberg theologians, he'll see how the Lutheran church rebutted those interpretations and set forth the true meaning.


  1. You wrote: Universal/Objective justification is not merely "Christ died for all" but it's the philosophy that because of Christ's Sacrifice, God has absolved the entire human race -- justified them -- without faith.
    I will conclude your thought: ...and that justification becomes the sinner's own when God brings him to faith through the means of grace.

    1. Yes, that's what Huber said above. Thanks for clarifying.

  2. Joel, you are not presenting the UOJ doctrine completely in your statement. Vague representations such as yours is one reason why many of the Lutheran Synod’s laity believe the false gospel of UOJ is the same as the central doctrine of Scripture, one Justification solely by faith in Christ alone.

    Joel states, "and that justification becomes the sinner's own when God brings him to faith through the means of grace."

    The doctrine of UOJ teaches that God has justified the unbelieving world, declared the unbelieving world sinless, guiltless, justfied and righteous because God removed their sin and placed it on Christ to atone for.
    UOJ teaches God's divine verdict of 'justified' is every unbelievers condition in His sight - even if they never have faith.
    Scripture teaches that only those who by the grace of God believe in Christ alone are justified. Every unbeliever remains under God’s wrath and condemnation.

    UOJ teaches that all people – both believers and unbelievers are at the same time under God’s wrath and condemnation over sin and also under God’s grace and are considered by Him to be forgiven all sin (justified), righteous in Christ and worthy of eternal life.
    Scripture teaches that those who, by God’s gracious gift of faith, trust alone in Christ are justified and righteous – having been clothed in Christ’s righteousness by faith and are no longer under His wrath and condemnation. Scripture also teaches that the unbelieving world remain under his wrath and condemnation and will never be in His grace, justified or considered righteous in Christ while they reject the Holy Spirit’s faith in Christ alone.

    UOJ's teaching is that faith does nothing but is simply an outstretched hand that receives the benefit of the justification already imputed upon the unbelieving world – that benefit is eternal salvation.
    Scripture teaches that the faith of the Holy Spirit is Christ’s righteousness, worked graciously by the Holy Spirit solely through the Means of Grace, by which a person clings to Christ alone, is regenerated – dies to sin and is raised to live under God’s grace, becomes spiritually minded, is adopted as God’s child, receiving the inheritance that Christ has appropriated to all who believe in Him.

    UOJ's teaching is that faith can only be created by a declaration that the unbeliever was forgiven all sins, declared righteous and worthy of eternal life when Christ paid for the worlds sins.
    Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit’s faith is created graciously through the Means of Grace working contrition over sin and faith in Christ alone in those He has called to believe.

    UOJ teaches the object of faith is the declaration that the individual was forgiven all sin, declared righteous and worthy of eternal life before they ever believed – even if they never believe.
    Scripture teaches the object of faith is Christ alone – and Him crucified.

    UOJ’s teaching is that men are justified by grace alone. Period. UOJ’s teaching is that men are saved by faith in the prior forgiveness. Period.
    Scripture teaches that mean are justified by faith alone so that it might be by grace alone. That men are justified by grace through faith.

    UOJ teaches that the forgiveness of sins is not eternal salvation.
    Scripture teaches that the forgiveness of sins is eternal salvation.

    UOJ teaches that unbelief is not a sin that Christ died and paid for.
    Scripture teaches that unbelief is a sin that Christ paid for and that those who God calls to believe through the Means of Grace are forgiven the sin of unbelief which they, along with the whole world, were born guilty of.

  3. Brett,

    If you can find me even ONE pastor who supports the teaching of objective justification who doesn't preach the word or administer the sacraments because he reasons that all people are justified already, I'll admit that you have a point. If you can't find an example of that, please stop misrepresenting what we say about the nature of objective justification.


  4. Joel, that's not the point. You're deflecting the issue onto Universalism and away from the clear evidence that the issue is the preaching of a false gospel. The point is that the pastors who confess and preach the gospel of Universal Objective Justification (UOJ), in harmony with the official teachings and Synod approved essays detailing the tenets of the doctrine, are teaching a false gospel that is contrary to Scripture and opposed to Christ.

    Every principle aspect of UOJ is contrary to Scripture and the Lutheran confessions. UOJ is not Christian.

    Do you disagree with any of the principle teachings of UOJ as I stated them above? The WELS and LCMS have published papers by their theologians that confirm each contention.