Saturday, October 09, 2010

Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 10

A summary review PART 10
of Campbell, Douglas A. The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009

Today we complete our overview of DC's summary of Justification Theory.

Justification Theory and its Root Metaphors

George Lakoff's notion of root metaphor's position is important here. The activation of a single key metaphor or part of the narrative launches the whole thing.

George Lackoff
DC has painted JT according to its ‘rational argumentative progressions’, but it is illuminating to show the key ‘images and metaphors’ (DC draws on the work of George Lakoff, especially Moral Politics. Cf. n.27 on p. 941, which is one example of many superb notes that I WISH were printed as footnotes, not endnotes) deployed by this soteriology, for the purpose of further clarification, to grasp what is at stake in understanding Paul’s theology, with special focus on Romans 1-4. As DC explains:
‘Arguments tend to draw out more precisely the relationships and inferences inherent in a juxtaposition of premises ... and premises often have a strong image-based or metaphorical dimension. The Justification model is no exception’ (30)
This is key because the activation of a single key metaphor or part of the narrative launches the whole soteriology. One could argue that this is demonstrated in, for example, Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, Pierced for our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2007), where references to the 'death of Jesus' in 'our place' in the early church Fathers, launches, for these authors, the entire model of penal substitution. A quick plug, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors we Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), is a most stimulating read: illuminating at all kinds of levels.

Justification Theory, DC argues, is driven by two root metaphors, one concerning humans, and one concerning God.
Anthropology: For JT to work, humans are understood in highly rational, individualistic and self-interested terms, who ‘acquire knowledge by reflecting on the world’, which means knowledge becomes information. Anthropology thus determines an epistemology which works prospectively – it moves forward in  a linear fashion. Knowledge of God, which is largely informational, is deduced from creation (natural theology) by this rational individual who is individually and ethically culpable before a holy God, and who acts to fulfil such ethical demands, in accordance with self-interest (can you think of popular approaches to ethics which tag in a line such as ‘it is in your own best interest not to  [fill in the gap: sleep around, get drunk etc]’?) 

Theology: God is both one and invisible, and importantly, God is retributively just – he is, in Lakoff’s terminology, a ‘strict’ authoritarian (the dominant image of God in the Southern states of America [!], according to The Baylor Survey of Religion - cf. 941 n. 27).
An aside: I have found DoG useful in prompting my mind to reflect on the ‘root metaphors’ that make sense not simply of my theology (which I kid myself is way more sophisticated than it actually is) but of my Christian practices. I wonder why I seem to default to a God dominated by justice (and love on good days)?
DC finishes as he started: ‘it should be emphasized that the preceding description is primarily theoretical’. It is about ‘the Justification model’s approach to salvation in terms of the most coherent conceptual route to that end’, which particularly examines ‘the internal theoretical integrity of the model’ (35). This point has, as we mentioned, nevertheless sadly been missed, leading to many unfair dismissals.



At 10/10/2010 9:32 AM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

Not only have I left the fold, but if I have to read all this in order to understand Paul, then I guess I'm never finding my way back again either.

What did you say you were "delivered" from?

At 10/11/2010 8:20 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

I think there is something in 2 Peter about reading Paul, too! ("difficult to understand"!)

At 10/13/2010 9:14 PM, Blogger Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Thanks for this review series, Chris! It's absolutely fascinating. I'm enjoying it greatly, and will be ordering a copy promptly.

It's fairly obvious that the discomfort expressed in response to the book's thesis is due to its striking at some unexamined presuppositions close to home, shaking some idols on their pedestals, so to speak.

I look forward to the rest.


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