A Jagged Contention: The Simul


“Part of the problem in grasping the Simul is the hangover of the Old Aeon’s ontology (the legal scheme).  Aristotle taught that the basis for logic was the law that two contradictory things cannot be in one ‘thing’ at the same time.  Yet, the baptized ‘person’ is two separate people—the dead and the alive, sinner and just.  When the law accuses of sin, it accuses the old, dead Adam, and is doing its job correctly.  But the baptized Christian says, ‘But I am free of your accusation, because that person is dead.’  The law does not believe this since it is spiritual and knows nothing of faith.  Nevertheless, the great freedom of the Christian is to distinguish between an old ‘self’—unto death and law, and the new being—unto Christ.  ‘You’ are now both the dead husband and the free wife: two persons [cf. Romans 7:1-6].  The problem is that the old person is the one you feel and see; the new is only ear and so lives by the hearing of the external promise.  Paul says this death in baptism was ‘so you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead that we may bear fruit unto God.’ (Romans 7:4 translation altered).”

-Steven D. Paulson, Lutheran Theology, pg. 177.


After a week of thinking about the phrase simul iustus et peccator, how has your view of this teaching changed? How has it grown?  What do you think of Paulson’s statement that we are, at the same time, two separate people? And what about the assertion that the new man (iustus guy or gal) is “only ear?”  Does Paulson undercut the Christian life with such statements?

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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One thought on “A Jagged Contention: The Simul

  1. “And what about the assertion that the new man (iustus guy or gal) is “only ear?” Does Paulson undercut the Christian life with such statements?”

    I am new to Lutheranism and, although having read a few articles by Scaer and Nagel, as well as minor pieces on blogs, Paulson’s is the only Lutheran “theology” book I’ve studied. Therefore, I want to respond to your question with the most relevant section from his book that addresses you question. I have found his scholarship to be faithful to the Confessions and Scripture, however, I am a layman who is new to Luther. Therefore, I hope that not only you but your other readers will respond to your question.

    “It is not the law, however, that unleashes you to ‘‘reign in your mortal body;’’ instead Paul refers everything to the word of baptism, and the key is to learn how to use the baptism. A promise initially appears useless (especially
    when you really need help) since it is not a ‘‘thing’’ able to be used
    in the old world like food is used when one is hungry. It is, however,
    the source of hope for the new creature, a kind of umbilical
    cord in the womb for a child very much alive, but not yet delivered.
    The promise of baptism gives the life of faith its characteristics,
    which are certainty that scoffs at skepticism (the Holy Spirit is no
    Skeptic), and boldness (parresia) of public speech to talk back to
    your enemies of law, sin, and death and tell them where to go. As
    we have seen, prayer that comes from baptism is courage to pester
    God when the promise appears moribund. That is why Christ said
    prayer was like a woman who goes to the Judge’s home at night
    and gets no response, but continues to knock and carry on until
    the Judge rouses himself and opens his window just to stop the
    noise saying, ‘‘What do you want?’’ But instead of asking an unjust
    judge for vindication, one is asking the Just God for forgiveness
    which overcomes death. A promise gives the ground to nag and
    pester the Promisor. Boldness and courage are the bases of the two
    great modes of Christian life: confession and prayer. Confession
    publicly defends itself on the basis of the promise against all detractors;
    prayer turns to God in lament and praise—demanding and
    thanking ahead of time—even though there is no basis for receiving
    anything according to the righteousness in the self. Lament
    and praise depend utterly upon the promise of forgiveness that
    turns to death with a brand new tool. No longer does one deny
    death, but defies it. When we do so on the basis of Christ, defiance
    enslaves death and frees us from the final enemy—death.”


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