The Imputation of Active Obedience in the Westminster Standards

Dr. Alan Strange discusses the Westminster Assembly and the Westminster Standards and whether they affirmed the imputation of Christ’s active obedience as necessary for our justification. Strange has written, The Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Westminster Standards, which is published by Reformation Heritage Books in their Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology series.

In the book, Strange gives a survey of church history before and during the Reformation to see how the Assembly relates to the tradition before it. He reflects on the relation of imputation to federal theology, modern challenges to the doctrine, and important rules for interpreting the confessional document.

Dr. Strange is professor of church history at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana.


Strange, “The Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ

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David Ehrlich

5 months ago

I was looking for some clarification because when you posed the question about Christ’s active obidience being necessary for his qualification as the penial substitutionary atonement lamb, I only heard strawmen arguments from the guest. If I understood your Nov. 1 talk correct, and it think I agree, the law wouldn’t have given salvation even if Israel had followed it, it was a temporal promise of land. The blemish free lamb did not signify imputed obedience, it signified the necessity of a perfect sacrifice to free us from slavery and to ritually purify us. So the active obidience to the law of Moses was not for salvation. We died before the law, between Adam and Moses, but now under the new Covenant we can overcome the universal consequence of Adams sin with the in dwelling of the Life Giving Spirit through new birth as new creatures. We receive that by being baptized into his death. So Jesus fulfilled the covenant of works by fulfilling the requirement of accomplishing the probationary period which Adam failed and he overcomes the law by living according to it and becoming a Perfect sacrifice. So where in that is our active obidience necessary? Because it has to be necessary for us to need the imputed active obidience. Are you saying, I think you alluded to it at the begining, that the imputation of active obidience is so that we actively accomplish the covenent of works, because death is essentially the ‘interest’ like the guest said? Also, I’m not an antinomian; God’s laws is the objective standard of God’s moral expectations, as Christians we aren’t subject to the condemnation of the law because we have an advocate who has paid our price and so we are bond-servants walking according to the law by faith. I just don’t understand the necessity of imputed obidience when we have an advocate, and have become coheirs, and have been born again of incorruptible seed, and have been purified by better blood, and have been freed from slavery in Egypt.

David Ehrlich

5 months ago

If the imputed active obedience is really just 1 Cor 15:21-22 why is so much ink spilled on this? Death reigned in all men through one man and so, thank God, life can also reign through one man. If it were asymmetric we would all have to live according to the mandate, but we didn’t have ‘Imputed Sin’ from Eve. Is it beneficial to use Imputed Active Obedience when scripture sums it up in two sentences? Also, is Adam’s sin imputed? It seems that Adams sin is a fundamental feature of fallen man in the same way the Indwelling of the Spirit is a fundamental feature of the newly created New Covenant member . . .


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