Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 7
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 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’ ), 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 goodYes, 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
Labels: Review of Deliverance of God