Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Courtroom

Thomas Oden, in his book The Justification Reader, says "The heart of the gospel idea of uprighting (justification) cannot be penetrated without pursuing carefully the metaphor of a courtroom verdict." (53)

Oden continues by expanding and explain the whole courtroom metaphor. This is a longer excerpt, but well worth the read:
All the elements of the courtroom situation are presupposed in salvation teaching: The judge is God: “You have come to God, the judge of all” (Heb. 12:23). The defendant is I and everyone else who has become enmeshed in the history of sin. “The whole world” is being “held accountable to God” (Rom. 3119). The plaintiff or accuser is personified as Moses, or generalized as “the law”: “Your accuser is Moses” (John 5:45).

The internal Witness is conscience, the moral testimony of the heart, or moral reasoning: “the requirements of the law are written on their hearts,” “their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them” (Rom. 2:15).

In this court an indictment is being read according to “the Written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us” (Col. 2:14). A sentence is being delivered: “Indeed, in our hearts We felt the sentence of death” (2 Cor. 1:9). The defendant is as good as dead: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
Fortunately for us, in this courtroom metaphor, and in real life, we have an advocate:
In this courtroom an incomparable Advocate has appeared. “We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). A satisfaction is offered, substituting another’s suffering for the penalty due to sinners: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:2). The sacrifice of one is accepted for many: “Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).

On this basis the judge reverses the judgment, grants a full acquittal, and justifies the accused: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The sinless One has become sin for us, taking punishment on our behalf, so that we might live to him. (54-55)

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