In the next few posts I will spend a fair bit of time on Justification Theory and misunderstandings of DC’s argument at this point. Hopefully we will then be in a place to better understand the brilliance of DC’s solution: a rhetorical and apocalyptic reading of Paul.
Part One: Justification Theory, and Its Implications
Chapter One: The Heart of the Matter: The Justification Theory of Salvation
In Part 2 we reviewed DC’s solution to the problem of entering the knotty problems associated with reading texts saturated by ideology, theological presuppositions etc, namely to initially analyse ‘a set of preliminary characterizations that were largely incontestable and could serve to establish and initiate the principal issues’ (xxvii). His much misunderstood Part One begins this process, the task of describing a particular soteriology, what he will call ‘Justification Theory’ (hereafter JT). It is key to recognise that JT is an:
‘... amalgam of a particular reading of various Pauline texts ... and a theory of salvation that, given certain key elements, simply must develop in certain directions as a matter of sheer rationality’ (12).
Had this point, and DC’S elucidation of it, been taken seriously, a number of misreading of DC’s thesis could have been avoided. JT is not simply a description of what Luther, Calvin, Moo etc. believe, nor did it ever claim to be. DC is well aware that the reformers, and those who followed, cannot be forced into the neat lines of the soteriology he will now describe. As DC explains: ‘There is a sense, then, in which this is something of a thought experiment: if Paul is interpreted ultimately a certain points in the following fashion, then all these consequences follow. And what follows is an individualistic, contractual soteriology grounded ‘in certain critical metaphors and reinforced by certain ideological and cultural positions, many of them distinctively modern’ (14). It is for this reason that DC’s JT cannot simply be dismissed as a ‘monolith’ (Watson), as if it were illegitimately imposed upon readers of Paul.
Given that misunderstandings are so common at this point, I will develop the point made above in the next installment in dialogue with Francis Watson and Mark Seifrid.
Labels: Review of Deliverance of God