The Three “R’s” of Justification

The Three “R’s” of Justification December 17, 2019

There is a deep and abiding drive to reduce justification to a legal, forensic act by God for the grace-receiving human. Thus, it becomes double imputation: Christ’s righteousness imputed to us and our sinfulness to Christ. That’s it. No minimization here of the importance of God doing for us what we can’t do and God’s grace giving us the bounties of redemption.

But is this what justification is? We can ask, Is this all justification is? The answer for Michael Gorman is No.

He proposes — after studying principal passages from Galatians 2:15-21 to 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 to the whole of Romans (quite the charts in his study) — Three R’s to Justification (my terms):  Participating in Christ: Explorations in Paul’s Theology and Spirituality (#ad).

What are they?

Justification for Gorman is about participation in Christ and it is a transformation through dying and rising with Christ. There are in fact Three R’s:

  1. Righteousness, which means “righteous-ification” and “justice-ification”
  2. Resurrection
  3. Reconciliation

These R’s are not just standings before God but transformative because we are “in Christ,” because we participate in Christ. We are made right and become righteous/just. We are raised with Christ for a new life. And we are reconciled with God and through that with others.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Patrick

    Yea, it’s about how we conduct our lives or should be. God has freed us from slavery to sin/evil/death, so we’re rectified. As I understand it, all humanity died to sin with Jesus. The oddity is we are able and often willing to choose not to conduct ourselves in Christ. Overlap of the ages I guess.

  • How does Gorman deal with justification as vindication?

  • These are fabulous.

    It reminded me of another “R” from John Wimber, who said “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” The parable of the talents, and of the man forgiven the great debt by the king, and many NT teachings on money and love lead me to think that Gorman is right on these R’s and in terms of participation. Our faith is revealed in what we risk and why. When we trust we’ve been forgiven much, and the love that God has revealed in Christ, we don’t cling to or fearfully seek what we did before, but can risk such in love and confidence.

  • Christiane Smith

    si comprendis, non est Deus

    ” “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”
    (from the Holy Gospel of St. Luke 10:21)