Skip to main content

Wheaton Theology Conference - Kevin Vanhoozer

Wow what a morning it was. Vanhoozer's talk was nothing short of spectacular. Both his wit and his learning are hard to overstate. Vanhoozer's goal was to try to show how we might reach a rapprochement between the Old and New Perspectives on Paul. I'll sketch pieces of his argument.

One issue Vanhoozer notes right of the bat is that many Protestants are opposed to doctrinal development, which is strangely un-Protestant. This clearly needs to be addressed. Then he asks the question, 'does being biblical mean attending to the details or the big picture?' His answer was 'Yes.' Wright excels at showing the narrative elements of Pauline theology, connecting textual and canonical dots without having to resort to allegory. Here's where Vanhoozer has a concern. Is Wright guilty of illegitimate totality transfer in his imposition of 2nd temple Jewish categories on Paul. Vanhoozer agrees that context is key, especially canonical context. This laid the groundwork for him to later challenge Wright to include the pastorals into his understanding of Paul (e.g., 1 Tim. 1:15).

Vanhoozer correctly notes that Wright's reformed critics aren't challenging his affirmations, but his denials. Especially troubling is (related to the last paragraph) the bit that 'the gospel isn't about how one gets saved.' Vanhoozer notes that Paul doesn't think the question of individual salvation is one to be sidelined when asked (see Acts 16).

Vanhoozer points out that for Wright ecclesiology is the new soteriology. Justification is the verdict that you are in God's people and faith is a sign of covenant membership not an entry ticket. Of course this conflicts with many in the Reformed tradition. So, Vanhoozer suggests a way forward that can bring the concerns of both together - union with Christ.

Vanhoozer analyzes justification as everyone would expect him to - as a speech act. Here his analysis is helpful (and what follows is an extreme simplification). He notes that locuted righteousness actually brings about a state of affairs by the utterance, it's more than just a declaration of fact.

In the rest of his talk he went on to link imputation and justification in ways that are extremely helpful, subsuming the discussion into union with Christ and ultimately adoption. What's imputed to us is Christ's covenant faithfulness. He also suggests that what happens at justification isn't just an acquittal (criminal court) and isn't just a determination of covenental staus (civil court), it's membership into Christ and thus into God's family (adoption court).

Vanhoozer closed by calling for more dialogue between Wright and the old Reformed guard. Neither side gets it right completely. They need each other. That dialogue must be laced with grace and the fruit of the spirit. I think that Vanhoozer has given us excellent suggestions at what our way forward should be.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Aquinas and Conclusion

When we reach Aquinas we come to the pinnacle of orthodoxy when it comes to the Trinity and Christology. Christology was important to Aquinas and he dedicated the first fifty-nine questions of Tertia Pars of his Summa Theologiae[1] to the topic. In many ways it is refreshing because he does not treat solely the more philosophical questions of who Jesus was that preoccupied theologians from the third century on. He also spent extended time on Jesus earthly ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification which was a major innovation.[2] Of course every possible topic of Trinitarian and ontological speculation is also probed. For the sake of space we will only hit some highlights.

Aquinas is clearly in step with the tradition that can be traced from Nicea, through Augustine and the Lombard, to the heart of the Middle Ages. One thing to briefly note is that even in his densest argumentation, Aquinas was not trying to prove elements of his theology via rational argument as that…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Irenaeus

Starting from Irenaeus, Christology, in some respects, moves on. A big part of this would have been due to the “gnostic” controversies. It became increasingly important to clarify the relationship between Father and Son and to minimize their distinctiveness, while still maintaining Jesus’ full humanity. From this point on, clashes over heresy about the nature of Christ and discussions related to Trinitarian theology dominate Christological discussion to the point that the original emphasis on Jesus’ Messianic identity fades to the background.[1] Maintaining the affirmation that Jesus was both human and divine was critical for Irenaeus and those after him because they saw that as the necessary grounds of salvation.[2]

Of particular interest to Irenaeus was the baptism of Jesus. What happened when he received the Spirit?[3] It was not the means by which the Word entered Jesus. He was not merely human before that point.[4] Rather it was a divinization of the human nature of Jesus, a nat…

End of Summer Review/Update

The school year is now upon us and I'll definitely not be posting the next two months. This summer didn't quite go to plan so I didn't get to do the blogging I was hoping to do. Specifically I was planning on blogging through 2 Thessalonians, but that didn't happen. It may happen late in the fall, but we will see. I may instead decide to pick up a different Pauline letter (perhaps 2 Corinthians). This is my last year of school  and by the fall of next year I should be back on a more regular blogging schedule.

A lack of blogging was not from a lack of productivity (although I'm sure my Pokemon Go playing did cut into my reading time a little bit). I've had a interesting summer learning about Medieval Christianity and specifically focusing on Peter Lombard and Thomas Aqunias. They'll both be featured in my next paper in Exploring the Christian Way which I hope to publish here in late January of 2017. 90% of the reading and 80% of the writing is done for that …