Tuesday, June 14, 2016


I am of the opinion that the theme "repentance" is not given enough space in works on systematic theology.

Just look in the index for a paucity of references in a random modern systematics on your shelf, I challenge you.

Perhaps because it is associated with "pastoral theology", not systematics proper? Perhaps because it is seen as rather old-fashioned religious language? Perhaps because it has negative connotations associated with conditionality and contractual theological schemes? Perhaps because it seems too moralising?

All involve misunderstandings.

And it remains true that it was a central theme in the ministry of Jesus. A thesis: it is the misappropriation of the language of "repentance" that has lead to its neglect.

In the above picture, Thomas S√∂ding (in Die Verk√ľndigung Jesu) writes about the nature of repentance in Jesus' proclamation. The coming of the kingdom doesn't depend on repentance. It's the other way around: The necessity and possibility of the repentance and faith depends on the nearness of the kingdom.

This resonates somewhat with Calvin's distinction (in the Institutes) between "evangelical" and "legal" repentance.
"Others seeing that the term is used in Scripture in different senses, have set down two forms of repentance, and, in order to distinguish them, have called the one Legal repentance; or that by which the sinner, stung with a sense of his sin, and overwhelmed with fear of the divine anger, remains in that state of perturbation, unable to escape from it. The other they term Evangelical repentance; or that by which the sinner, though grievously downcast in himself, yet looks up and sees in Christ the cure of his wound, the solace of his terror; the haven of rest from his misery"


At 6/18/2016 4:39 AM, Blogger Owen Weddle said...

Perhaps it is due to the fact for Protestant theology, it is hard to square away a "justitication by faith" theology with repentance that seems to be connected to works.

I also think due to the paucity of the term's usage in Paul and how we have had the proclivity to read Pauline theology into the Gospels explains it and to use Paul's concepts to form the basis for systematic thought.

However, I would give a hypothesis for the absence of it in Paul. His theology took a turn from transforming John the Baptist's baptism of repentance into a baptism that is connected to Jesus (Acts 19:1-5) that lead Paul to his notion of baptism as unity in Christ (Romans 6). "Repentance" would be implied in his language of "in Christ" (one must abandon the old in order to be united with the newness in Christ) so he doesn't use the term as a broad, generic command like Jesus does; instead he used in regards to more particular, specific instances. In other words, it is a term he will use to describe specific behaviors, but the term repentance is not used in PAul's Christocentric explanation. I would go so far as to say that Paul's concept of "In Christ" takes the place of Jesus' proclamation about God's kingdom at the center of his proclamation, so the conecpts of kingdom and repentance are encapsulated in a different phrase and doesn't begin to peek back out much until Paul's later letter in Colossians (I do Paul wrote it) where he makes those concepts more explicit. All this leads modern interpreters of PAul to not give repentance an appropriate place in theology and therefore not much place for it in systematic theology in general, in so far as Paul's presentation of Jesus is a used as a dominant paradigm for doing theology.

At 10/10/2016 7:13 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

No matter how you define it I would think however.
Paul's life after the encounter on the road to Damascus, exemplifies the continual state that the sacrifices the father accepts, is nothing more than a broken spirit and a contrite heart, that will be exemplified in a faithful believer the more he approaches God through the Spirit of the SON.
To say that we've all missed.
Is nothing more than a Start
Blessings All rich constant...


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