Righteousness by Faith

Morrie Venden publicly opposed Des on justification all his days at Glacier View. He brought spiritual life to a lot of people by talking about Jesus and our relationship with him, and that was wonderful. But his specialty as I understand it was sanctification by faith (meaning our growth, not the biblical view of sanctification meaning set apart). He focussed on faith, but it ended in the same old perfectionism and caused a lot of sensitive souls grief. He didn’t teach the gospel; and he opposed the teaching of justification by faith. However, in a church where sermons are often as dry as the hills of Gilboa, he at least majored on Jesus and having a relationship with him.


I agree. I read one of his books back in the early 2000’s. It sounded more grace centered than regular Adventism, but, it circled back around to a works situation. I felt that it was the same old thing, but repackaged to sound like justification by faith, but in the end, it was just that, a repackaging of basic SDA works oriented faith.

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Luckily it won’t be hot. After Ted has all the local Starbucks shut down, attendees will have to walk so far to get it that by the time they get back to the event it’ll be cold.


LOL. That’s why I gave permission with the coffee. Won’t take risks with salt & pepper though… :rofl:


Yes, that’s exactly what it means. Which is probably why the church just can’t go there and recognize that observance isn’t required by the Christian faith (as it is in Pagan religions and Judaism.)

Yet, how many times have I heard the exact opposite from the pulpit? Heard that we must observe, that we should regularly attend church - and in the correct way and on the correct day?


It’ll be Laodicean coffee.


This issue tends to be continually misinterpreted every time it may be presented, mostly because there’s a lack of understanding that the term “righteousness” can be viewed from two different POVs, and each side of this argument tends to focus on one and not another, while arguably both can be reconciled.

First of all we have to define what the heck are we talking about when we mean righteousness by faith. I tend to ask people who repeat this concept to explain it to me with some specificity as to what they mean by righteousness, what they mean by faith, and how does faith gets one righteousness… since it’s more of a “through” type of relationship of “righteousness through faith”.

Most people tend to understand these concepts intuitively. Righteousness is a state of being considered to be in good moral standing. But, it tends to shock people when they discover that righteousness is a function of judgement. The concept of righteousness can’t exist apart from context of comparative judgement of some sort… in which the subject that’s being judged is compared to some ideal against which it is being judged.

As such, the context for righteousness and sin is rooted in exact same process of comparative judgement. Everything that’s not righteousness is … sin , or short of comparative target.

Now, there are are a couple blatant logical fallacies that exist in what modern Christians typically understand as “righteousness by faith” as they don’t really care to deconstruct the meaning of these words, and how these words relate to each other, and why they even think that these outline the concept that they think these do.

The generic Christian understanding is as follows, and it should be familiar:

  1. We have issues, since we don’t measure up to the standards of perfection and ideals
  2. Therefore, we are not righteous and deserve punishment, since less than ideal isn’t something that God doesn’t tolerate as ideal being
  3. To fix that, Jesus and Father made a redemption plan to reconcile people and God
  4. Jesus is punished on our behalf and cancels our punishment
  5. All we have to do is to accept that gift from God, and trust that God will work us to perfection
  6. As a result, God looks at Jesus moral righteousness even though we are still imperfect.

This is a typical Evangelical narrative, and if you don’t see this as one of the most incoherently contrived concepts you’ve ever heard, then you are are rushing to accept the offer without first examining the fine print.

Again, words have meaning. If we change the meaning of words mid-sentence, then it results in incoherent and illogical concepts that can’t be trusted to be consistent or reconcile. I’ll make a couple things a bit more obvious with following statements:

  1. Righteousness isn’t transferable, and it can’t be transferable. This is perhaps the most inconsistent context of modern Evangelical view of righteousness. If I tell you please clean my car… you can’t point me to some other clean car, and say … well just think of your car as clean, since this other clean car got dirty on it’s behalf. What you have then is two dirty cars.

  2. Transferable righteousness is by very definition of what morality is… would be immoral. If you accept someone being punished on your behalf as a deal… that’s an immoral act. More so, the judge is insane and should be fired, and the judicial system that allows such injustice is corrupt. In no context of our present day understanding of justice one could volunteer to serve a prison sentence on someone else’s behalf as long as they are not guilty of the same crime.

  3. It turns God into incoherent being that can’t override his own ideals… and yet do just that in making an exception to the very concept of justice in order to trick himself into believing that people are righteous, even though they are not.

I think the above make the most popular version of righteousness by faith" this concept is understood today to be both incompatible and incoherent.

In that case it must be spewn rather than thrown.


Not only that. Correct Sabbath keeping is the cornerstone of the Adventist faith. I’m really not sure how Christ fits into the scenario. His name is used a lot, but if you follow the reasoning, it only serves as a substitute for the animal sacrifice demanded in the Sanctuary services. It’s as though the OT is the heart of system and the NT clarifies IT; instead of the Gospel being the heart of the faith, with the OT being the foreshadowing for the New.


Had Morris Venden not set his theology apart from Ford, he would have gotten booted out, too. I think Venden seriously saw the consequences and shaped his relationship theology to remain in the good graces of the church. Even at that, LGTarians opposed him too, and saw him as more dangerous than Ford. Kevin Paulson, a LGT adherent called Venden’s theology “extreme moderation.”

At least Venden’s view took the fear out of the IJ doctrine. But I now see that even he was captive to SDA perfectionism, it was just a milder variety. I see him more as a theologian who managed to give those of us who clung in hope to SDA theology from giving up in despair.


Now I’m totally confused by what you said here. You have turned RBF into the art of measuring the thickness of eggshells in total darkness.


AKA Roma…
How come Adventists hate Rome but love Roma? … :roll_eyes:
(I am just enjoying a hot cup of Roma in Almond milk. Delicious! And nothing against Rome…)

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Here, a well known evangelical says it well, like it or not—from the Bible and not just a personal opinion or philosophy:

Justification of the Ungodly

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

This message is for you. You will find the text in Romans 4:5, “ To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

I call your attention to those words, “Him that justifieth the ungodly.” They seem to me to be very wonderful words.

Are you not surprised that there should be such an expression as that in the Bible, “That justifieth the ungodly”? I have heard that men that hate the doctrines of the cross bring it as a charge against God, that He saves wicked men and receives to Himself the vilest of the vile. See how this Scripture accepts the charge and plainly states it! By the mouth of His servant Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, He takes to Himself the title of “Him that justifieth the ungodly.” He makes those just who are unjust, forgives those who deserve no favor. Did you think that salvation was for the good and that God’s grace was for the pure and holy who are free from sin? Perhaps you think that if you were excellent, then God would reward you; and maybe you have thought that because you are not worthy, therefore there could be no way of your enjoying His favor. You must be somewhat surprised to read a text like this: “Him that justifieth the ungodly.” I do not wonder that you are surprised; for with all my familiarity with the great grace of God, I never cease to wonder at it. It does sound surprising, does it not, that it should be possible for a holy God to justify an unholy man? We, according to the natural legality of our hearts, are always talking about our own goodness and our own worthiness, and we stubbornly believe that there must be something in us in order to win the notice of God. Now, God, who sees through all deceptions, knows that there is no goodness whatever in us. He says that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). He knows that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6), and, therefore, the Lord Jesus did not come into the world to look after goodness and righteousness among men, but to bestow them upon persons who have none of them. He comes, not because we are just, but to make us so; He justifieth the ungodly.

When a lawyer comes into court, if he is an honest man, he desires to plead the case of an innocent person and justify him before the court from the things which are falsely laid to his charge. It should he the lawyer’s object to justify the innocent person, and he should not attempt to screen the guilty party. It is not man’s right nor in his power to truly justify the guilty. This is a miracle reserved for the Lord alone. God, the infinitely just Sovereign, knows that there is not a just man upon earth who does good and does not sin. Therefore, in the infinite sovereignty of His divine nature and in the splendor of His ineffable love, He undertakes the task, not so much of justifying the just as of justifying the ungodly. God has devised ways and means of making the ungodly man to stand justly accepted before Him. He has set up a system by which with perfect justice He can treat the guilty as if he had been free from offence; yes, can treat him as if he were wholly free from sin. He justifieth the ungodly.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is a very surprising thing, a thing to be marveled at most of all by those who enjoy it. I know that it is to me, even to this day, the greatest wonder that lever heard of that God should ever justify me. I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin apart from His almighty love. I know and am fully assured that I am justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus, and I am treated as if I had been perfectly just and made an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. And yet, by nature I must take my place among the most sinful. I, who am altogether undeserving, am treated as if I had been deserving. I am loved with as much love as if I had always been godly, whereas before I was ungodly. Who can help being astonished at this? Gratitude for such favor stands dressed in robes of wonder.

Now, while this is very surprising, I want you to notice how available it makes the Gospel to you and to me. If God justifieth the ungodly , then He can justify you. Is not that the very kind of person that you are? If you are unconverted at this moment, it is a very proper description of you. You have lived without God; you have been the reverse of godly. In one word, you have been and are ungodly. Perhaps you have not even attended a place of worship on Sunday, but have lived in disregard of God’s day and house and Word. This proves you to have been ungodly. Sadder still, it may be you have even tried to doubt God’s existence and have gone the length of saying that you did so. You have lived on this fair earth which is full of the tokens of God’s presence, and all the while you have shut your eyes to the clear evidences of His power and Godhead. You have lived as if there were no God. Indeed, you would have been very pleased if you could have positively demonstrated to yourself that there was no God whatever. Possibly you have lived a great many years in this way so that you are now pretty well settled in your ways, and yet God is not in any of them. If you were labeled ungodly, it would describe you as well as if the sea were to be labeled salt water. Would it not?

Possibly you are a person of another sort. You have regularly attended to all the outward forms of religion, and yet you have had no heart in them at all, but have been really ungodly. Though meeting with the people of God, you have never met with God for yourself; you have been in the choir, and yet have not praised the Lord with your heart. You have lived without any love to God in your heart, or regard to His commands in your life. Well, you are just the kind of person to whom this Gospel is sent, this Gospel which says that God justifieth the ungodly. It is very wonderful, but it is happily available for you. It just suits you. Does it not? Howl wish that you would accept it! If you are a sensible person, you will see the remarkable grace of God in providing for someone such as you are, and you will say to yourself, “Justify the ungodly! Why, then, should not I be justified, and justified at once?”


In this case righteousness is not BEING righteous, as in being sinless. Paul explains righteousness as being in “right standing” before God. Humanity has Adam as our legacy, where we are automatically a sinful entity. Jesus came as the second Adam ( a do-over) - both, paying for the sin, and granting a new legacy of “right standing”. The caveat is that we have to recognize and admit our sinfulness, and REPENT of it in order to gain that status. That repentance does not come by simply accepting the transfer intellectually. As Jesus described it to Nicodemus, it comes by spirit and we do not control that by simply doing the right things, one good thing after the other. That would be righteousness by our good works. In fact, according to Paul, if the “inner man” has accepted the “right standing” the outer man can still be found to do sin. (Rom7) - but, “there is now no condemnation” as long as the inner man is connected to Christ, as by 'intent" rather than act. Eventually, the works follow as we grow with the Spirit.

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God stamps “NOT GUILTY”, but that doesn’t mean the person was
Not Guilty.
But it does allow the “Not Guilty” guilty person to begin a new life.
Make changes in behaviors, attitudes, goals and desires. And
find appropriate ways to achieve them.
Our “parole officer”/“therapist”/“sponsor” is the Holy Spirit.
The VERY LONG PROCESS of change [years] is what one would
title “Sanctification”.
RELAPSE does not mean “Sanctification” didn’t work. Just means
that one has the PERMISSION from the Court and the Holy Spirit to
continue on in “therapy”. To discover the RELAPSE TRAPS and how
to avoid them in the future.

I know of members of AA and NA who at every meeting say “I am an
alcoholic”, “I am a na”. Know ones who have been clean for many years.
But some in their stories will confess that at 7, 15, 20 years they relapsed.
But they came back into the rooms. Made sure they had a “sponsor” and
are living “clean” successfully again. BUT they HAD to attend meetings,
read the Book, maintain contact with their Sponsor on a regular basis as
agreed upon by both. AND began doing the 12-Step process once again
with their Sponsor.

Richard Rohr has a great 12-Step book. Titled – “Breathing Under Water”.
Would be a great gift for any new Christian, and for any already long-term
Christian. It is Biblically based. He provides the texts where each Step is
AA is Biblically based, but written in such a way that any religion person or
non-religion person can be included in the 12-Step messages.
The “AA Bible” is affectionately called The Big Book. And parts are read at
most every meeting.

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This is why Rahab and Samson are listed in the faith chapter, Hebrews 11. Correct?


If you read the way I described the Evangelical perspective on this subject, I didn’t say that the resultant righteousness is equivalent to a sinless state. That should be quite obvious that it’s not.

If God looks at the willing and repentant person and says “He’s ok… He understands and tries now, so he’s going to be ok with some of my guidance”, then the entire “perfect Jesus must die instead of us and take all of the sins upon himself” is both unnecessary and irrelevant. The mixture of these concepts creates incoherent narrative.

The writer of Hebrews actually admits that the entire sacrificial exercise in the OT was a mere reminder of the consequences of sin, but it didn’t take anything away. It didn’t undo anything other than serve as a psychological rehab and mental conditioning. The problem with the old system was that it didn’t quite work well, since it becomes the proverbial means for “buying forgiveness” through indulgences of sacrifice.

There’s a juxtaposition of that in Hebrews 10, in which writer points out just that. The point wasn’t about going through the ceremony as normal and habitual perpetuity. The point of this was eventually not going through it once someone gone enough times.

So, since that system didn’t work, in Heb 10:14, there’s a change in mentality… well, not really, but change from misunderstanding of what sacrificial system should be in context - a metacognitive layer that re-structures human motivation with a more to the point narrative in which there’s some finality to these reminders once one takes these seriously and integrates it as a part of behavioral process.

τετελείωκεν in Heb 10:14 stands for “made perfect”, but structurally it’s more about the idea of completing a task as a goal, like finishing a race. It means that that particular sacrifice has some finality as a reminder. It’s not something done for the sake of getting people off the hook.


This is perhaps the biggest problem for this narrative, since we know and understand much more about “intent” to see that it’s a consolidated fictional narrative from POV of neurophysiology.

In short, what you call “intent” is a conscious awareness of aggregate outcome in the brain as opposed to something specific and singular.

If two 18 year old hormonal teens that are attracted to each other are alone in a room, then the intent of their limbic system would be fairly clear. The endocrine system is activated to prep the body for that activity… so they have a “feeling”. There’s automation wired for nature to run its course.

Luckily, there’s also a Prefrontal Cortex that can contextualize that impulse in broader awareness of consequences. So, in spite of the limbic intent that activates and preps the body, saying “time to go”, PFC limits that impulse and says “Nop. We are not going anywhere.”. But that’s not a singular kind of thing.

That entire process is a cognitive loop of wide spectrum or “thoughts” that each examine various advantages and disadvantages in the moment.

So, PFC may say “ok, that sounds ok… Go ahead”, and then momentarily evaluate a different context and pull back, and may go back and forth.

What we get in conscious awareness is a limited scope of this process that may be both conflicting and confusing, and fueled by a whole range of emotions, ranging from fear, to excitement, to shame, etc.

What we consolidate into a concept of intentionality can be quite misleading, since our brain tries to make up a coherent narrative when consolidating a wide range of these processes and context. And that narrative itself isn’t without some hidden motive, since it functionally exists for verbally communicating it to other people. And on top of that, it can be an altered narrative that merely approximates desired outcome or patterns.

So, there isn’t any singular “you” in your head, in which case… Who are we judging exactly? Are we judging the limbic system? Are we judging the poorly developed or adopted PFC? Are we judging poor endocrinal function? How about the faulty memory?

Religious narratives or the last tend to consistent all of that into a singular “you”. And in modern context, it’s a huge problem.

It’s problematic for a narrative that doesn’t adequately translate to match our functional reality. So, the solutions proposed by religion in context of some hidden variables like Holy Spirit are a problem when there’s no adequate understanding of what it’s a metaphor of, and what we should be doing and saying in 21st century, and not 1st, when mental illness was due to demons possessing someone.

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And lest you forget our GI microbiota which has been found to have an effect on our mental well-being. The kinds of microbes in our GI system play a significant part in controlling our moods, emotions and formal thought structures.

Oh what a complicated life we live! Let’s blame those microbes too.



Yeah, well, I’m sure Paul wasn’t aware of all “that”. Simply put, once you have accepted the Gospel (a feat in itself) and want to do what’s right/good (God’s will); but find you’re not always up to the task, “there is now no condemnation” Rom 8. IOW, we are not judged for every mis-step as long as “our heart is in the right place”. AND, we have faith that, that is so.

Paul deals with this subject forensically, as well; as in a court room setting. Adventism has remained in the courtroom. Paul wants us to move on in faith.