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Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther Paperback – September 1, 1998
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The second benefit of this book is that it sets the groundwork for productive talks between Eastern Orthodox and Lutherans. For the Orthodox, God's economic dealings with humans in Christ extend far beyond the satisfaction model of the West. Following the Scriptures and the Fathers, the Orthodox stress that God became man that man might become God. For the Orthodox, the humanity's end and purpose is theosis, or deification. Union With Christ deals explicitly with this theme in Luther, and so opens up a welcome path for dialogue.
Other books of similar interest include: Salvation in Christ: A Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue by John Meyendorff (Editor), et al; Heaven on Earth: A Lutheran-Orthodox Odyssey by Robert Tobias; Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulen; Common Ground, by Jordan Bajis; and On the Incarnation, by Saint Athanasius.
The main thrust of the Finnish view is that Jesus Christ is actually present in faith. This results in not just an extrinsic and forensic justification, the doctrine promulgated by the Reformers, but also results in an intrinsic renewal that actually makes the repentant sinner just. Thus, the Finnish view teaches both extrinsic and intrinsic renewal at justification, and not the common reformation of extrinsic justification alone. This both..and theology is basically the same teaching expounded by the early Fathers and is common in Patristic theology.
This understanding of justification corrects the later Lutheran teaching advocating only forensic justification and allows justification to be a gradual process, and not just a one time event. In addition, sanctification and justification become more closely related and not two separate and distinct phenomena that do not relate with each other. The common teaching of the Reformer's makes sanctification a result of justification and therefore one's works are only a product of one's justification, but not related to it. The Finnish view allows for an interrelation between justification and sanctification that makes our works, the ones performed by Christ present in our faith, justifying.
This book is important because it opens up new avenues of communication between the Orthodox and the Lutherans and allows for fruitful ecumenical discussion. Also, it will also be beneficial in the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutherans and the Catholic Church since theosis has not been completely ignored by the Church in the West. The only problem I have with this book is that the Reformation doctrine of sola fide is not described in detail, and no one takes the time to explain how the Finnish view can still accomodate this teaching. Overall, this is an excellent work and one I believe most Protestant's should take the time to read.