Could you explain infused righteousness and how you may or may not believe it is supported biblically? and what is your interpretation of imputed righteousness and how you may or may not believe it is biblical?This is a difficult question to answer because it requires that several terms be defined (such as justification, sanctification, salvation, regeneration, righteousness, infused, imputed, etc.) and because different Protestants understand "imputed righteousness" in different ways. I will try to be as faithful to the Protestant doctrine as possible, but I'm sure that despite this someone out there will feel that I've misrepresented their position. I am sorry about that. Also, this is my first time really digging into this debate, so please forgive my rookie mistakes.
First off, here is the Catholic definition of the various terms in question (as I understand them):
- Justification: Act of being put in right relationship with or status before God. It is a return to friendship with him.
- Sanctification: Act of being made truly clean by the grace of God. Sanctification makes us a "new creation."
[Note: Justification and sanctification are co-extensive. In other words, one naturally includes the other.]
- Salvation: Eternal beatitude with God. Salvation is only obtained when the soul dies and enters heaven.
- Regeneration: Another name for "sanctification" or being "born again."
- Righteousness: Another name for "justice." To be made "righteous" is to be made "just." Also, justification makes us righteous.
- Infused righteousness: The righteousness of Christ "infused" or burnt deep into us, in a way that penetrates our very being and changes us.
- Imputed righteousness: The righteousness of Christ declared to be ours in a legal sense, without making us intrinsically and substantially righteous as he is righteous. This righteousness covers our sin but does not eradicate it.
This is, first, because God said about his word, "it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isa 55:11). In other words, his word is active and effective. David Linden, a Protestant theologian, says that "in justification, God declares the sinner righteous; in this forensic doctrine, God does not make the sinner righteous, but gives him first a standing with Himself" (here). But, if God's word is active like Isaiah says it is, then when God declares someone righteous that person is actually made righteous by the declaration. Otherwise, God's word would return to Him empty.
Besides this, I wonder about two verses that I think may show that when a man is justified, he is likewise cleansed of his sin:
1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Heb 12:23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
In the verse from Corinthians, Paul seems to be speaking of 1 event with three results. In my opinion, the event is baptism, since Paul speaks of baptism in other places in this letter (cf. 1 Cor 1:14-16; 10:1-4) and in his other letters too (cf. Rom 6:4; Gal 3:27; Col 2:12; Tit 3:5-6; Heb 10:22). But, regardless of the cause, washing, sanctification, and justification are the result and they go hand-in-hand here, so that if you received one you also received the other two. Paul even seems to use these words interchangeably, as if each word is a different way of speaking of the same result. It appears from this that he who is justified is also sanctified. Paul's point here is to remind them of the Spirit of Christ that they have received. They should be above the actions he is condemning them for.
In the passage from Hebrews, we see that he who is just is also perfect. Now, is anyone perfect who is simply declared clean yet remains dirty? Is that perfection? If you read the context, the image is of heaven. We know of heaven that no unclean thing shall enter it (cf. Rev 21:27), yet just men are found there. It follows from this that the just are also clean, and in the truest sense of the word.
Now, I the response to this could be that justification, which is forensic, does not clean, but sanctification, which comes later, does clean. But can we really say that there's a time in a man's life when he is justified before God yet still sinful? Justification and sin are mutually exclusive. Does God simply turn a blind eye to man's sin and pretend it's not there, or does He actually eradicate sin, washing us with his blood and making us white as snow?
Everything I know about his grace tells me that when we receive it, we are cleansed by it. This quote from the New Advent article on sanctifying grace sums it up well [with slight alteration to fix the Scripture citations]:
This [the Catholic] view is entirely consonant with the teaching of Holy Scripture, for the Biblical expressions: "blotting out" as applied to sin (Isa 43:25; 44:22; Acts 3:19), "exhausting" (Hebrews 9:28), "taking away" (2 Sam 12:13; 1 Chron 21:8; Mic 7:18; Psa 10:15; 103:12), cannot be reconciled with the idea of a mere covering up of sin which is supposed to continue its existence in a covert manner. Other Biblical expressions are just as irreconcilable with this idea, for instance, the expression of "cleansing" and "washing away" the mire of sin (Isa 1:18; Ezek 36:25; 1 Cor 6:11; Rev 1:5), that of coming "from death to life" (Col 2:13; 1 Jn 3:14); the removal from darkness to light (Eph 5:8). Especially these latter expressions are significant, because they characterize the justification as a movement from one thing to another which is directly contrary or opposed to the thing from which the movement is made. The opposites, black and white, night and day, darkness and light, life and death, have this peculiarity, that the presence of one means the extinction of its opposite. Just as the sun dispels all darkness, so does the advent of justifying grace drive away sin [. . .].It appears from all this that infused righteousness is the biblical doctrine, and imputed righteousness is not. I hope that this will suffice as an introductory response to your question. Thank you for your patience. If you would like to read more about the Catholic position on infused vs. imputed righteousness, see the following articles:
- Righteousness and Merit
- The Canons on Justification and a Summary of Tridentine Soteriology
- God's Love Is Effective
- On Justification
- Protestant/Catholic Discussion on Imputed Righteousness
- Righteousness Done Right
- Romans 4: One-Time Imputation or a Process?
- Scripture on Justification as Infusion of Righteousness
- The Nature of Justification