Consider this quotation from William B. Evans, Imputation and Impartation: Union with Christ in American Reformed Theology. Studies in Christian Thought (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008), 264-65:
It is here that a concrete soteriological approach is called for. In contrast to the abstractions of the ordo salutis framework, in which justification and sanctification are not “in Christ” but rather occur somehow “on the basis of what Christ did,” there is a need to reflect more deeply on the relationship of the person and work of Christ. Once again, the Pauline materials provide food for thought. R. B. Gaffin has argued that for St. Paul, all of the traditional loci of Reformed soteriology—justification, sanctification, adoption, and glorification—are comprehended in the experience of Christ as the resurrected Second Adam.7 Furthermore, the Pauline perspective here is that the redemptive experience of Christ is not only paradigmatic for the Christian, but also is constitutive of the believer’s experience (the believer will not merely be raised like Christ, but is is crucified and raised with and in Christ, Rom. 6:4-10; Eph 2:4-7). If these insights are to be utilized in Reformed dogmatics, then all of salvation is in a sense “participatory,” that is, a participation in the redemptive experience of Christ. All is to be found, as T. F. Torrance rightly suggests, in the “vicarious humanity of Christ.”
A decisive break with the ordo salutis thinking that has vitiated Reformed thought since the early seventeenth century is clearly implied here. This historical record shows that as long as justification is viewed as taking place at a specific point in time (either in eternity or upon the exercise of faith) it is nearly impossible to find a meaningful relationship between justification and the economy of faith (the ongoing life of faith and obedience). Only when the traditional ordo salutis is eschewed can a truly forensic and synthetic doctrine of justification that is at the same time relational and dynamic be articulated.
7In footnote 7, p. 264 Evans says in part, “See Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption, 114-127. Of particular interest here is the presence of both the forensic and the transformative poles in the redemptive experience of Christ.” He continues by suggesting that Paul’s expression, εδικαιωθη εν πνευμα, in 1 Tim 3:16 refers not to Christ’s “vindication” but to his forensic justification saying, “there is little reason to deny the forensic sense that dikaiein generally has in the Pauline trajectory. He closes the first paragraph of the footnote with citations to Gaffin’s Resurrection and Redemption and to Vos’ The Pauline Eschatology and to Eduard Schweizer, Lordship and Discipleship.
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