Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 7

A summary review PART 7
of Campbell, Douglas A. The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009

It was necessary to spend so much time clarifying exactly what DC aims to do with 'Justification Theory' (JT), because it has so often been misunderstood and rhetorically dismissed, rather than argumentatively falsified. In so doing, the problems which dog the interpretation of Paul have been swept under a rhetorical carpet, an unhealthy manoeuvre DC aims to combat. Let us now, then, press on to overview JT itself, remembering the points made above, specifically that we are now going to be confronted with the theological content of readings of Romans 1-4 (not ‘conservative’, ‘Lutheran’ or any other academic readings of Paul in toto!) and the theological implications of this reading, something that needs to be undertaken before this soteriology is then introduced them into the broader picture of Paul. 

The First Phase of Justification Theory: The Rigorous Contract

The Opening Progression

The soteriology, which DC calls JT, begins with the pre-Christian condition, a state which involves rational, self-interested individuals who know what must be obvious to all: that God is just and retributively punishes sin. Sin, here, is the transgression of God’s moral demands which, for the Jew, is the law (who are ‘the archetypal occupants of phase one’ [16]), and for the Gentile is the conscience (hence natural theology has a big part to play in this soteriology). As God is just, it functions as follows: 'do bad you get punished', but also ‘do good you get rewarded’. Hence the soteriology is fundamentally conditional. It follows that, for this system, ‘ethical legislation based on retributive justice is the fundamental structure of the universe, as well as of the divine nature’ (17).

The eschatological caveat

But because it is obvious that the universe is not simply ordered such that the righteous get blessed, and the wicked get punished in this life (the theological problem of the wealthy, happy sinner and the crushed, unhappy saint), ‘[e]verything tends towards a future eschatological climax, when history will be unravelled into its dual constituents – the righteous and the wicked’ (18). In other words: 
Romans 2:6-10 … he will repay according to each one's deeds: 7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good
Yes, of course, this text can be read in different ways (and a terrific analysis of the various options is presented by Michael F. Bird in his helpful book, The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification and the New Perspective [Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2007], pp. 155-78), but it seems to me that Bird's "Christian Reading" of these verses, that "Paul is speaking of Gentile Christians who fulfill the Torah through faith in Christ and life in the Spirit" (166), tries ultimately to make the text say what it does not say.

We will continue this overview of JT in the next few posts



At 9/28/2010 6:39 PM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

"Delivered?" from what?

(Perhaps one needs to be "delivered" from the delusion that one is speaking "for God" on all manner of subjects as Paul supposed himself to be doing?)

At 9/28/2010 6:50 PM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

Speaking "deliverance" in an apocalyptic sense one can add to Romans 2:6-10 these other verses from the same letter:

...the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is soon [mello] to be revealed to us... ...The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now...We...groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body....Knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed! The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand...The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. [Rom 8:18,22-23; 13:11-12; 16:20]

But what if you only wanted to be delivered from one's addiction to smoking? Paul reads like a typical cult leader in my opinion.

At 9/29/2010 1:14 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Though I have fundamental general agreements with DC on many issues (wanting to replace JT generally with a PPME type view, rereading Rom 1-4 rhetorically not as a JT systematic theology), on the issues of God's moral demands / conditional salvation, he and I part company quite radically.

This gets reflected in the fact when we break up the Rom 1-4 dialogue between Paul and the Teacher, DC and I end up assigning quite different parts of it between the two different speakers! Stowers, too, slices the conversation slightly differently to us both. In my reading, it is the Teacher who is advocating unconditional salvation (for Jews alone), while Paul is advocating conditional salvation (for Jews and Gentiles on the basis of merit). What I find most incredible about Campbell's reading of this dialogue I think is summarized by one of my notes in my notebook about The Quest For Paul's Gospel pg 246f:
"In other words, this opponent's single premise of "judgment by works for both Jews and Gentiles" leads to all of the conclusions which all agree with Paul's view and you [DC] want to say judgment by works is the belief of Paul's opponents and not Paul himself!?!"

I agree with DC that the one thesis of judgment by works for Jews and gentiles equally gets to all of Paul's conclusions and fundamentally destroys the Teacher's gospel. In light of that, Campbell's determination to argue that this principle is not actually held by Paul seems rather bizarre to me. (Especially since the principle is amply evidenced in Paul, the rest of the New Testament, and since the writings of the ECFs show judgment by works to have been one of the most foundational and universal of early Christian beliefs)

At 9/29/2010 11:47 AM, Anonymous phil_style said...

Can I just calrify that these two sections;
1. Opening progression, and
2. The eschatological caveat

are Doug's understanding on how JT plays out, as "traditionally" read in Romans?

Or are these two sections forming the basis of doug's (revised) reading..

At 9/30/2010 11:32 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Ed ("Delivered?" from what?), will get back to you when I find time: may write a blog post actually.

Andrew, thanks for your interesting comment! I think your position will need to be debated in light of Doug's impressive exegetical engagement with the text, so perhaps we can return to your thesis then?

"Campbell's determination to argue that this principle is not actually held by Paul seems rather bizarre to me"

I think he show it makes a good deal of sense, but as I said, perhaps we can return to this when I get to the exegesis?

Phil, thanks for our question

the two points you mention are Doug's understanding on how JT plays out.

At 10/01/2010 6:16 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Sure, if there is going to be a better time later in your review series, I am happy to postpone discussion of this and look at this issue in more detail then. I simply didn't know whether you intended to visit this in more detail in 50 review posts time, or whether this was part 7 or a 10 part series...

At 10/01/2010 3:16 PM, Anonymous Zheing said...

Thanks for sharing this PART 7

At 10/01/2010 7:01 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Andrew, totally understand that, yeah. We will make space for this one down the line. Thanks


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