Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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 assistance' (81). The problem of sin has already been dealt with. Why do ethics matter? Can a non-arbitrary reason be given? I don't think one can. The answer that saving faith produces always ends up producing works, while biblical, is arbitrary. Nothing about the doctrine of justification by faith prepares you for that solution.

Evangelicals struggle with how to encourage ethical behavior. The charge of 'works righteousness' and hypocrisy are fearsome, as is the stress on total depravity. We need a theory of justification that will allow us to boldly exhort one another to righteous living.

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