[I]t is said in Rom 4:5 and 5:6 that God justifies the ungodly. It is impossible, in this connection, to use stronger language. The opponents of imputed righteousness should not lodge their objection against Luther and Calvin but against Paul. (Reformed Dogmatics, 4:213)
Bavinck's whole discussion of imputation, if we replace the name Bellarmine with some modern ones, is strikingly relevant today. The same objections leveled today against imputation were given a century ago. Bellarmine argued that imputation is nonsensical because it does something only external to someone, and therefore the person is not in fact righteous, and not, therefore, to be called actually righteous if imputation is the controlling concept. See Bavinck deconstruct this false line of thinking on pages 212 to 214 of volume 4 of the Dogmatics. Here's the bottom line:
If God justifies the ungodly, that is not a fiction, a putative imputation, but a present and future reality. . . . For when God justifies the ungodly, he does it on the basis of a righteousness that he himself has effected in Christ. By Christ's sacrifice, against all hostile powers, he has acquired the right to acquit the ungodly. . . . And a justifying faith consists above all in an unshakable trust in that God of miracles with whom all things are possible.
Thank you Herman! I don't think you were nearly as grouchy as you look in all the pictures.