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Showing posts from March, 2012

Article Review: The Fourfold Pattern of Moral Reasoning According to the New Testament

Last summer I went to Korea with my wife and daughter. During the trip we took a couple of days to go to a resort at Na Num Jae, on the Yellow Sea, with my wife's family. One morning I went down to the beach to read for an hour (as you can see from the picture it was at low tide). In what was one of the best hours of my whole trip, I read this article, The Fourfold Pattern of Moral Reasoning in the New Testament by Bernd Wannenwetsch in Scripture's Doctrine and Theology's Bible. It's a fantastic essay that I've been hoping to discuss and I now have the chance.

The goal of Wannenwetsch's essay is to 'explore the core practices that constitute Christian ethics-the art of moral reasoning in a theological vein' (178). He identifies four core elements, perceiving, discerning, judging, and giving of account(178). These are undertaken cyclically. You progress through the list and then go back to the beginning. Your perception is affected by the account you gi…

The Deliverance of God: Further Problems

In the third chapter Campbell lays out a preliminary reading of Romans 5-8 that he uses to expose further weaknesses in the justification theory of salvation. I'm going to skip his reading of Romans 5-8 and wait to discuss that when he gives his fuller treatment later in the book. For now I want to focus on one more objection that he raises (out of ten).

The first, and the biggest issue I had with what Campbell has termed justification theory is the problem of ethics. It has no way of encoraging converts to behave ethically. In fact, exherting effort to be ethical is usually condemned. To claim to be good is to be hypocritical (80-1).

Some would respond that this is where sanctification steps in. Justification only deals with salvation where the Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer on an ongoing basis. Campbell sees several problems with this move. I believe the most significant is that this is unexpected. 'Justification theory itself contains no obvious need for such assistan…

Song of Songs: Contrasting Two Approaches

I've almost finished my preliminary reading on the Song of Songs before I dive into serious study verse by verse. I wanted to take this post to contrast some approaches to the Song. The two primary approaches under discussion will be that of Exum and Garrett, though, towards the end I will also incorporate Longman's. The question is, what is the Song of Songs? The answer given by most everyone now is that it is erotic love poetry. Upon probing deeper, a variety of approaches emerge.

Once upon a time, it was common to read the Song as a dramatic poem. One variety saw it as a story of a love triangle between Solomon, the woman, and a shepherd. There aren't many proponents of these views anymore, however, the question of plot is still discussed. Does the Song (if it is a single poem) have any plot? If so to what degree? Garrett is one of the most vocal critics of the dramatic theories (80-1 in fact Garrett's introduction is one of the most negative towards other views tha…

The Deliverance of God: What's Wrong with Justification Theory?

The second chapter of The Deliverance of God is probably the most logically rigorous argument that I've read in New Testament scholarship. Campbell proceeds to deconstruct the justification theory of salvation, exposing several key weaknesses. I'll only highlight three here. It seems to me in each of these cases that Campbell is on to something.
Perhaps the biggest is his claim that, 'Justification theory posits a God of strict justice who holds all people accountable to a standard they are intrinsically unable to attain, and this seems unjust' (45 - emphasis original). I think this is a question worth asking. How can God be just for holding people accountable for failing to do the impossible, be perfect? As Campbell points out, yes the gospel does provide a way out, but that provision does not make the initial scenario any more just. Some (a small group) will simply escape its unfairness. The majority have to endure a fundamentally unjust system and are held accounta…

The Deliverance of God: A Statement of the Problem

I've finally begun reading The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul, and I'm immediately seeing what all of the hoopla was about. I thought it might be worthwhile to blog through the book as I read it (so it will be "live blogged" in a sense), assuming I have the drive to keep it up. This means that you will probably see more evaluation of Campbell's argument from me only as we get deeper into the book. This book is almost 1200 pages if you include the end notes, so be ready for a long ride!

I wanted to start today with a brief discussion of the basic premise of the book and an overview of the first chapter. Campbell believes that we've largely misunderstood Paul at many key junctures. This has led to misunderstanding justification and the gospel. The order of the book is to first expose the weaknesses in our current understanding of Paul and then to help us reread Paul, especially keeping an eye open to the bigger picture of…