Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 14
A summary review PART 14of Campbell, Douglas A. The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009
Having outlined the many intrinsic difficulties (IDs) of JT, those problems thrown up by the internal logic of JT itself, DC now turns to examine the problems that become evident when JT is contrasted with things Paul says elsewhere in his letters.
‘If the essentially contractual theory of Justification is inserted into Paul’s thought, then almost every aspect generates tension in relation to something the apostle says elsewhere’ (62). To show these 'systematic difficulties' DC works backwards, by first outlining an alternative Pauline theory. With that different perspective in view, it will be clear how, if JT is inserted into Paul, tensions are produced.
An alternative Pauline theory: the soteriology apparent in Romans 5-8
The thought experiment now undertaken answers the question: If, ‘by a twist of canonical fate’ (62) one had only Romans 5-8 left from Paul’s letters, what would one conclude about that Paul’s soteriology? (Some of the following will reflect a position DC already outlined in his book, The Quest For Paul’s Gospel, reviewed by your host here
First, the text evidences a complex soteriology, involving an interrelated mix of topics like the nature of God, the Spirit, Christian existence, a perspective on ontology and epistemology etc. So, as DC must begin somewhere, he begins with ‘the state from which humanity is rescued’ (63, though ultimately this ‘alternative soteriology’ begins with the unconditional salvific and apocalyptic deliverance of God, so 72). This state involves flesh-humans, descended from Adam, enslaved by Sin and Death, one that finds itself as an enemy of God, totally unable to please God (5:10; 8:5-8). ‘Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?’ (7:24).
‘People who exist in this dire condition … are obviously incapable of accurate theological reflection or of any positive action, ethical or salvific … hence the text’s repeated emphasis on deliverance (7:24b; 8:2 …) And this rescue is apparently the result of interlocking actions by God the Father; his only, beloved Son, who he sends into the enslaved Adamic condition; and the Holy Spirit’ (63).
Christian salvation is thus fundamentally transformational and relational, the Spirit effecting the change ‘with reference to Christ’ (64). Ethics is inherent to this transformation from slavery to sin to holiness to eternal life (6:19, 22-23); human ethical capacity is freed from slavery and is itself transformed by grace (6:15, 23). The perception of human enslavement is seen in light of this grace, i.e. it looks backward (is retrospective, a posteriori) as ‘a corrupt human condition could not derive accurate conclusions about itself’ (65 – and cf. Rom. 8:7). What is needed is unconditional rescue, ‘and no criteria for its activation, appropriation, or reception by humans are apparent in this text, while what causality or agency is apparent is attributed to God’ (65 - with reference to 8:29-30; 5:6-8, 10). This inaugurated (partial) transformation is also liturgical (7:24; 8:15, 26-27, 34), it calls forth ‘human participation in the liturgical communion of the divine condition’ (66), yet at the same time thus calls for patience, perseverance and hope (5:2-5; 8:23-25), itself a participation in Christ’s sufferings (8:17). By the Spirit, believers participate in the ‘descent’ of Christ into his death, which guarantees their part in his risen life. And all of this, from beginning to end, is held in the unconditional love and benevolence of God (reflect on the beginning of Rom. 5, and the end of Rom. 8!).
At the end of this section, DC summarises this "alternative" theological system in a helpful, structured, way, as he did with JT.
In the next Part, we summarise DC's attempt to tie up two "loose ends".
Labels: Review of Deliverance of God