Decentered Self of Protestantism

Decentered Self of Protestantism July 14, 2006

Guy Waters thinks that I’m abandoning the Reformation by questioning an ontology rooted in the notion of “substance.” I say, On the contrary. In an article on the Reformation doctrine of justification, Berndt Hamm writes:

“Behind this epoch-making change in the understanding of justification and salvation, as Wilfried Joest has shown, lies a new view of the person . . . .

“To a great extent Joest’s account of it in Luther can also be applied to Melanchthon, Zwingli, and Calvin. The Reformation no longer defines the human person before God in the manner of medieval philosophy and theology, as the substance of the natural or spiritual man, distinguished by reasonable and voluntary possession of himself, a subject with qualities deriving from his essence and a morality made manifest in works. To the reformers the presence of the human personality before God entails a break with the subjectivity of the sinner: he is taken out of himself, and outside himself he is in Christ. The person accepted by God is thus not man in the mode of ethical realization, but man solely coram deo, as he is seen by God, in what has become the basis of his salvation through Christ.”

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