According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scott McKnight - What's the "Old" Perspective on Paul?



What’s the “Old” Perspective on Paul?

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/03/09/whats-the-old-perspective-on-paul/
I’ve not seen the old perspective on soteriology, as framed mostly through one reading of Paul, expressed any better than in Carl Trueman’s sketch of Luther’s theology at work in the Heidelberg Disputation (slightly reformatted):
To get a fuller view of the old perspective than is found in what is quoted below one has to bring in not only the Old Testament and law but also Judaism and works of the law and tie them to an Augustinian anthropology. Not all of this is present in this summary, but the anthropology of self-deception is the foundation on which the whole posture toward law and works of the law and ultimately Judaism will be formed — and what Luther had to say about Judaism later in his life is, in the words of Trueman, “nauseating” (54) [e.g., Luther was anti-Semetic - res2]. There are a number of factors at work in Luther’s statements about the Jews, but one of them had to do with his anthropology as it was aimed at “law.”
Luther starts the disputation by examining the role of God’s law. The foundation is laid in the first two theses, which propose that the law of God is indeed salutary and good but that it is not able to advance human beings toward salvation (thesis 1), and that good works are even less capable of achieving that end (thesis 2). These theses summarize Luther’s new theological convictions, which had emerged as a result of his immersion in he writings of Paul in the immediately preceding years. God is righteous and his law is an expression of his holy character, but human beings are incapable of making themselves worthy in his sight.
The next pair of theses draws epistemological conclusions from this foundation: human works appear attractive but are actually “likely to be mortal sins” (thesis 3). Luther means here that human works seem to us to be worthy of God’s acceptance but are in fact as filthy rags before him. There is a disconnect between our perception of their merit and the reality, which points toward the moral nature of human knowledge. The same is true, in reverse, of God’s works, which appear sinful to human beings but are actually meritorious before God (thesis 4).
Thesis 5 is, on the surface, a quite confusing statement: “The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.” Luther’s own published explanation of this thesis is that mortal sins, those which damn us before God, are not what we might think—outrageous acts such as adultery or murder—but rather any acts, even those which seem good, that flow from a sinful heart.
Luther is both deepening the understanding of what constitutes sin and at the same time pointing to the profound epistemological corruption to which human beings are subject. We might say that he is emphasizing that the theologies we create for ourselves are false in that they fail to understand the seriousness of the fallen human condition. This is reinforced in thesis 6, which declares that the works God does through human beings are not meritorious (pp. 58-59).
But the inner conflict of the self, which characterizes so much of the old perspective, comes through in Luther’s theory that we are simultaneously righteous and sinful, and here is Trueman’s summary:
There is also a sense in which all Christians are people divided against themselves: clothed in the righteousness of Christ and yet always striving to justify themselves by their own righteousness. That inner conflict is part of the very essence of what it means to be a Christian in a fallen world this side of glory (71).
He says it more forcefully in a later chapter but it gets to the core of justification’s existential reality for Luther and deserves to be included here:
Fear and terror are the products of the law, the inevitable result of that tendency within all of us to be theologians of glory, who wish to approach God on our own terms and thus find ourselves confronted with the terrifying God of perfect righteousness and holiness (129).
Luther’s approach was in a way self-protected for if you deny this sketch is your own experience, you are either not a Christian or you are trapped in self-righteousness. When Krister Stendahl’s famous essay about the introspective conscience was published many saw the old perspective for what it was more clearly — but Stendahl’s point was that this was Luther and this was Luther against his world but it was not Paul nor Paul against his world. On this new perspective hooked its anchor and sought to pull the whole out of its footing.
I have always had an ambivalent attitude toward Luther — I love some of what he accomplished and taught and I despise some of what he accomplished and taught. I am “suspending” all my thoughts about Luther as much as I can as I read this fascinating and well-written introduction to the person and thought of Martin Luther by Carl Trueman. The book is called Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom.

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