Monday, March 9, 2020

The Love of God and our role in demonstrating it to the world

I am really enjoying working my way through Douglas Campbell's Pauline Dogmatics: The Triumph of God's Love (Eerdmans, 2020).

By "Pauline Dogmatics" Doug (if I may so call him, not only because he is a fellow Kiwi, but we shared aspects of Dunedin ministry and mission together in 1984!) means integrating Paul's words (the text by which we determine and debate what is "Pauline") with the fruit of 2000 years of systematic theological study ("dogmatics.") Specifically, Doug's reading of Paul's letters is in conversation in this book with systematic theologians such as Barth (most frequently), Zizioulas and many others, including ancient fathers.

While it is early days - it is a big book and I am only 70 pages or so into it - I sense that "the triumph of God's love" will mean by the end, the power of God's love to permit no obstacles in the way of drawing everyone through the proclaimation of the gospel to God's own self.

In another post for another day, I simply note here that Doug makes Paul's and the most primitive church's great creed, "Jesus is Lord" the starting point for all theological reflection.

But here, in this post, possibly one of many, I draw attention via citation to some important insights Doug shares with the reader in respect of the love of God, God's love, God is love.

God as personal, relational and familial ...

"There has arguably been a predilection for describing God in much theology - and perhaps especially in reflections derived from Latin-speaking traditions - with categories that are fundamentally legal and political. God is viewed at bottom as a monarch or sovereign, and the key analogies for understanding his relationships, both internally and externally with us, are in terms of law and the state. However, careful attention to what God has actually revealed about his nature to us in Jesus, his Son, suggest that these reflections are inaccurate and possibly even quite misleading. They have their place, but only after due correction by the analogies that are primary. God is fundamentally familial and disposed toward us in this way as well - as our heavenly Father." [p. 53]

I think this is critical to our Anglican ecclesiology, incidentally. Do we understand ourselves as family? Or as a body defined by rules and regulations? Actually we are a bit of both ("They have their place") but if God is "fundamentally familial and disposed to us ... as our heavenly Father" then our primary self-identity is as the family of God bound by love and not by constitution.

God's love

"If we have grasped the extent to which God is fully familial God composed of persons who are what they are because of one another, then we are in a position to grasp another truth that is equally staggering. ...[noting Paul's reference to the beloved Son of the Father, Romans 8:3; Ephesians 1:6; cf. Romans 3:25] ... The Father dotes on the Son, we might say. The Son is the apple of his eye. And the Son loves his Father, which is why he does what the Father says, even when it involves what seems to us to be extraordinary demands. Here we can be helped, in their best moments, by the astonishing love that often does obtain within our families between spouses, and between parents and their children, situations where people can offer everything for one another. Such situations mediate the critical realization that the persons of the Trinity have a deep and profound love for one another, something that is then also apparent in the life of Jesus. So as the author of 1 John puts it - characteristically a little more compactly than paul, although doubtless the latter would have approved - "God is love" (4:8)." [p. 54]


"Paul says in a statement of near matchless importance - although he is echoing here a strong of similar statements found elsewhere in this and other letter - "God demonstrates his own love for us [in this] - that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:9). He goes on to say immediately in the verses that follow that it is this demonstration of love that eliminates any fear concerning a future angry judgement. ... The nature of God is revealed definitively by the death of the Son on the cross for us at the behest of the Father and the Spirit. There the Father has offered up his beloved only Son to die for us, doing so, moreover, while we, the objects of this costly mission, were rebellious and hostile. Before any response had been offered, then, the Father undertoo this ultimately costly act for us, which the Son obeidently carried out. And this proves that the Father's love for us is utterly fundamental to his character, and limitless, as is the Son's and their Spirit's. This God will stop at nothing in order to reach us and to heal us. God undertook this supremely painful action - the Father's sacrifice of his Son - to save a snarling and ungrateful humanity. Astonishing!" [pp. 55-56]

And our privilege and responsibility - Doug asks "where exactly do we meet Jesus and this overpoweringly benevolent and kind God?" [p. 56]

"We meet God through people like him - that is to say, through the community, and especially through its designated leaders. And we learn from this phenomenon that Jesus's followers mediate God's revelations." [p. 57]

Obviously there are occasions when God directly reveals God's self to some ... Paul is a great example! But more typical is "The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was proclaimed among you by me and Silas and Timothy" (2 Cor 1:19) [p. 57]

With a strong argument anchored into discussion of the human and divine wills at work in Jesus, Doug then works his way through the significance of this insight that the truth of the love of God is mediated to the world by you and me, as "witnesses" (p. 62-65). And there is much here to draw out which I will leav to another occasion, about how we must learn to tell the story of Jesus well. But, drawing this post to a close, this is Doug's conclusion to the chapter and to his thinking within it about our role in mediating the truth:

"Jesus did not write a book; he called disciples." [p. 69]


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

With Chris Tilling--


Anonymous said...

Campbell's interpretation offers a more plausible motivation for St Paul's *haustafeln*.


Peter Carrell said...

Very helpful links, thanks Bowman!

Father Ron said...

Something to keep in mind - for all of us:

"Jesus did not write a book; he called disciples." [p. 69]

Anonymous said...

"Jesus did not write a book; he called disciples."

This sentence is the seam stitching one section called "Further Reading" to another called "Bibliography." No disparagement of books is intended.

After recalling that in the books of Karl Barth (esp CD III/2) and several other named authors (Martin Buber, John Zizioulis, Christian Smith, Miroslav Volf, Jurgen Moltmann, Alan Torrance, John Wesley, etc) personhood is relational, Campbell notes "in fear and trembling" that "the preferred locus for divine revelation" is not the Bible, as Barth thought, but "appointed human intermediaries like Paul." He goes on--

"I am not excluding a scriptural mediation-- by no means. [ ;-) ] But I do view it as less common and as secondary to the overwhelming primacy of God working through human relational interactions. Jesus did not write a book; he called disciples."

This is not the triviality that Jesus did not write a treatise on oh the ichthyology of the Sea of Galilee because he disdained books, reading, scholars, abstract thought, mental effort, etc. Rather, Campbell is making a startling and consequential claim: because Jesus's public ministry did not include authorship of a canonical scripture (cf Daniel, Ezekiel) but did include several transformative relationships, God has shown the latter rather than the former to be the ordinary medium of the gospel in this aeon. Campbell is relying on St Paul's writings to address a series of "dogmatic" questions, but these words are instructive as moments in gospel-charged relationships that have a history.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it is because we have already discussed how Robert W Jenson arrived at a strikingly similar result. Jens had no animus against the scriptures-- he wrote commentaries as a second career-- but in his first career, he too detected a relational tendency in Barth's thought and amplified it. Jens did this with a Lutheran *ontology of the Word* that renewed metaphysics so that the gospel-word enacted among believers could bear the weight of God's embodiment in the visible congregation. Admitting that he was "doing un-Barthian things with Barth," he described the presence of the Word as *infinitum capax finiti*.

Campbell too is describing a Body with more divine gravitas than modern opinion-clubs can bear, and Jens would have nodded at his account of the Word's sovereign claim on the believer. But Campbell is starting from an ontology of the person-in-relation that spirals out into evangelism, church-planting, sacraments, discipline, etc. Gazing on much the same vista with a similar love for the concrete life of the Body, the two lenses have a binocular depth of field.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks then to Father Ron for opining that "all of us" should bear Jesus's disciple-forming relationships in mind. This is much easier to say than to do. Few can imagine well even one Jesus-formed soul, let alone a deeply interrelated familia of them. Yet the thought is like a pebble whose ripples reach the farthest edges of the pond.


Father Ron said...

Thank you, Bowman. In older years, my primary understanding is that 'God IS Love'.

Anonymous said...

We find Campbell helpful to reading St Paul.

But as Bryden reminds us, we also consult Wright on St Paul, and the two sometimes construe the apostle differently (eg Romans 1-3). In our day, the most influential exegetes of St Paul test their readings against several criteria at once and weight those criteria differently.

What is the careful reader to do? Clarity about their criteria allows one to map common ground, detect tacit agreements, and keep open disagreements in perspective.

(a) All of them would prefer exegeses that account for more of the undisputed facts about the letters. But for some (eg Moo and Schreiner) this is the main task of exegesis, while others (eg Campbell, Hays, and Wright) often argue for the greater salience and broad implications of particular facts that are not prominent in the exegeses of others.

(b) All of them prefer exegeses finding thoughts that not only fit the text but its likely time in St Paul's ministry. But for some this is only a mild preference informed by a fuzzy timeline, while others (eg Campbell and Wright) have higher confidence in their own more precise chronologies of the letters.

(c) All of them would reject exegeses finding thoughts that were unthinkable to Jews in late antiquity. But some (eg Hays and Wright, also Jews like Boyarin and Segal) read St Paul's texts as transforms of the Second Temple Judaism that they have reconstructed from historical data. These emphasize the continuity from voices in the Old Testament to the gospel of the early church.

(d) Some of them (eg Childs and Campbell) reject exegeses finding thoughts that could not have motivated the pauline mission as we know it from New Testament and the apostolic fathers. These emphasize the intelligibility and appeal of the gospel of the early church to gentiles in the Roman world.

(e) Some of them consciously prefer exegeses that solve problems that were raised by earlier commentators (eg Wright on Schweitzer) or theologians (eg Campbell on Barth and Hauerwas), or that are simply important to a tradition (eg contrasting Reformed perspectives of Campbell, Moo, and Wright). And, of course, scholars investigating the exegeses of later milieux and thinkers (eg Brock, Meyendorff, de Lubac, etc) examine these same problems from the other side.

(f) None of them flatly reject exegeses that find ideas in tension with dogma later promulgated by the ecumenical councils of 325-787, but all of them subject such exegeses to a higher degree of scrutiny.

In our own hermeneutical engagement with the scriptures for prayer, preaching, etc, the differences among commentators with different projects are not often perplexing.


Anonymous said...

Campbell says Paul wasn't "tried" by the Aeropagus, didn't go to Jerusalem five times as per Acts, didn't write 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, was imprisoned in Apamea, was executed in 57, was a universalist (or Campbell very much wants him to be one) - and Luke didn't write Acts. Not Baur but not very evangelical either. Very fixated on J b Torrance's covenant vs contract distinction. Paul was probably a Barthian Episcopalian.


Peter Carrell said...

Very droll James - though I am not saying you are wrong!

Thanks Bowman for helping me to see the bigger picture re Pauline scholarship.

All I am saying (and seeing) at this point in my reading of Doug’s book is that he offers a cogent argument ... but I have a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

"Not Baur but not very evangelical either."

Unless-- it is everlastingly debated online and sporadically in print-- the Evangelical Calvinism of the House of Torrance is evangelical.


Anonymous said...

"a cogent argument ..."

It intrigues two sorts of readers, even when they do not buy every step of it.

Some, looking at the place of evangelicals in the cultural landscape of countries like mine, have been aghast, much as Karl Barth resiled from his teachers' disgraceful enthusiasm for the militarism of Wilhelm and later from the German Christians of the Third Reich. Readers like this take seriously Douglas Campbell's distinction between St Paul's thought on authority and law and that of a social ideology that they view as pernicious in practice and far from the mind of Christ. And just as Albert Schweitzer's mission to Africa seemed to live out the argument that he had made in books like Paul the Mystic, so it has not hurt the reception of Campbell's argument that he is an activist against the *incarceration nation* that the US has become.

Others, part of a broad tide ebbing (eg Colin Gunton) from exclusively Augustinian frames for the gospel and flowing (eg Oliver Crisp) toward a more eclectic Reformed theology, wonder whether Campbell's argument has mediated what is living in the latter without what is dead or deadening in the former. Readers like this are not necessarily universalist, but they do not believe that Jesus's teaching or St Paul's gospel was as emphatically infernalist as the piety of the late medieval West. And they generally do appreciate, and sometimes prefer, the tradition from SS Irenaeus and Athanasius through the Cappadocian fathers to St Cyril.

Conversely, those who fear tax-supported health insurance for the poor or who long for others to hear more minatory preaching about hellfire have not much liked Campbell's books. This is understandable.


Anonymous said...

"Conversely, those who fear tax-supported health insurance for the poor or who long for others to hear more minatory preaching about hellfire have not much liked Campbell's books. This is understandable."

Better to avoid politically colored ad hominems, that's a blade that cuts both ways. Those who like tax-supported health insurance for the poor and who long for Michael Curryism might like these books. But so what? Campbell's exegesis is either right or wrong, whatever you think about Bernie Sanders. I judge that his universalism is wrong, and I don't follow his chronology (but I haven't read his justification for this, so can't really comment). To claim that Acts is "99% accurate" but that Syzygus (the presumed author!) invented the Areopagus "trial" to make Paul look like Socrates is really strange. What id Acts was by - Luke! - and was written early, long before the destruction of Jerusalem? Nineteenth century Tubingen dogmatism still haunts some minds.


Peter Carrell said...

Surely, James, what Paul says which is “universalist” (in tendency if not in actuality) is independent of who wrote Acts?

Surely, also, the possibility that speeches (and dialogues) in Acts are “constructed” rather than “[roughly] verbatim” is a point of reasonable debate by scholars whenever Acts was written and whether or not by a companion of Paul? [Ditto other matters in Acts]?

- within Acts there are three versions of Paul’s testimony placed on Paul’s lips;
- there is no presumption that Luke was necessarily present at Pentecost (Peter’s sermon) even if we are 100% sure he was present for all Paul’s speeches/sermons;
- (most awkward in my view) it is pretty hard to square the “theology of Paul” in Acts with the “Pauline theology” of all the Pauline letters (with the possible exception of the Pastorals ... and you are no doubt aware that some think one of more of them were authored by Luke!)

For what it is worth, I incline to Lukas authorship of Acts but am not convinced that it was before the fall of Jerusalem!

Anonymous said...

"But so what?"

+ Peter's readers sometimes ask who cares about the books we mention. Whilst waiting for the plague to come, an answer was supplied above for Campbell's books. Since it is observation rather than argument, it cannot be an *argumentum ad hominem*.

"...politically charged...both ways."

One can see who likes Campbell's books, but not so easily their politics, and those may not neatly fit the Sixth Party System in US politics. On the other hand, those with whom Campbell directly disagrees on certain cultural matters do seem to disagree with him, as one would expect. They prefer other exegetes who are also interesting and well-regarded.

"Campbell's exegesis is either right or wrong."

See above. N. T. Wright famously said that Campbell's startling exegesis of Romans 1-3 "approaches genius," but then went on to argue for his own innovative exegesis of the same section. The exegesis of Roman 5:12 has been debated between the Latin West and the Greek East for about sixteen centuries.

"I judge that his universalism is wrong..."

How would you define the *universalism* that you attribute to Campbell?

And what does The Episcopal Church or its Presiding Bishop have to do with any of this?


Anonymous said...

"Since it is observation rather than argument, it cannot be an *argumentum ad hominem*."
- an observation that is neither here not there and should be left out of the discussion, as I said.
Campbell's arguments are exegetical and historical. He thinks Paul was parodying and undermining his Jewish-Christian opponents ('the Teacher') in Romans 1-3 (like Schiff on the Zelensky call? No, that's just an observation), and he exegetes Romans 1.17 in a very novel way to refer to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. He draws the sharpest distinction between 'contract' (BAD) and 'covenant' (GOOD) and seems to minimize the need for personal faith in the 'Ordo Salutis'. A tour de force, no doubt, but one that contradicts just about the entire history of exegesis of Paul. Campbell contra mundum? (Wright is more modest; he thinks we've been wrong for only 500 years.) On the other hand, Campbell does say (IIRC) that "Ephesians" was by Paul, written in Apamea in the early 50s (not Rome in c. 62, since Campbell tells us that Paul was executed in Rome in 57), so he can distinguish himself from older liberalism as well, which relegates "Ephesians" ("Laodiceans"?) to some late first century "Paulinist". The Pastorals on the other hand - nah.
Poor Paul. Not only has the Church been misunderstanding him from the second century (at least), it's been attributing to him things he never said.


Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, those with whom Campbell directly disagrees on certain cultural matters do seem to disagree with him, as one would expect. They prefer other exegetes who are also interesting and well-regarded."

This is just ad hominem confusion/diversion. I don't give a tinker's cuss about Campbell's political views or those who disagree with them, because Paul wasn't a 21st century American. The only thing that matters is whether Campbell has exegeted Paul correctly, whether he is right on what he calls 'the Justification Theory' and 'the Teacher' in Romans 1-3, on the meaning of Romans 1.17 and more generally on 'pistis Iesou Christou', and whether he has a correct chronology (no easy task however you conceive it). Whether a view is "interesting" is irrelevant. It only matters if it's correct.


Anonymous said...

"Campbell's arguments are exegetical and historical."

Campbell summarizes the view of Romans he presents in The Deliverance of God here--

As a title like Pauline Dogmatics might suggest, Campbell is commenting as an exegete on some propositions from systematics. In his view, explained in the link below, exegesis is not only not algorithmic, but can require considerable theological depth in the exegete.

Because the system of Barth and Torrance informs Campbell's exegesis, readers who publish have unsurprisingly studied the argument on both levels. Systematically, is St Paul's gospel in Romans 5-8? Exegetically, if it is, then how should we read Romans 1-4 where it seems to contradict it? If not for the systematic problem posed by sound exegesis of 5-8, there would be no reassessment of past ways of construing 1-4.

There is history and there is history. Speaking ecumenically, there is no defined dogma on justification, and what Campbell calls Justification Theory is almost foreign to the East. In late Byzantium, a couple Hesychasts did ask how the adamic flaw of Romans 5 was overcome, but their inquiry took them to christological meditation on the Protoevangelium of St James, not the old perspective reading of Romans 1-4.


Anonymous said...

"[analogies for understanding his relationships, both internally and externally with us, in terms of law and the state] have their place, but only after due correction by the analogies that are primary. God is fundamentally familial and disposed toward us in this way as well - as our heavenly Father."

Pauline Dogmatics, p. 53.

The interesting questions posed in + Peter's OP have been unjustly neglected. Perhaps it will help to articulate them.

(1) In St Paul, how does the familial model of divine-human relations correct the stately one?
(1') Or in misinterpretations, exactly how does the stately distort the familial?

(2) In St Paul, how do familial divine-human relations enable Jesus's followers to mediate God's revelations?
(2') Or in misinterpretations, exactly how does the stately model of divine-human relations disable the mediation of God's revelations by Jesus's followers?

(3) In the Body, how should the familial inform or constrain the stately?
(3') In Anglican practice, how might the stately improperly distort the familial?


Anonymous said...


The contrast between familial and stately metaphors that Campbell draws and that + Peter mentions enables a precise question: if the familial metaphors in St Paul are the controlling ones, then to what degree is the End retributive? Answers to that vary for good reason, but one who reads St Paul's letters in the familial way will find it nearly impossible to believe that the End is as exclusively retributive as most people assume. *Universalism*-- whatever that might mean-- is not thereby proven, but *infernalism*-- everlasting retributive punishment as an end in itself-- is uprooted.

The label *retributive* is applied in a confusing way. Some use it only to refer to pain inflicted after death for no purpose but recompense for evil character or deeds. This sounds rather stately. But retribution also compasses reward for good character or deeds. Which sounds rather familial. St Paul need not have understood *retribution* in an all-or-nothing way.

As a label, *universalism* too has been stuck on boxes with different contents. We are told that for some it means--

(a) When they die, all will go straight to heaven.

But persons actually organised as *Universalists* have sometimes said--

(b) When they die, all will go through purgative fire toward heaven.

These *universalists* are similar to *annihilationists* like John Stott. They differ from him in having a more explicit commitment to restorative justice and so more confidence that all will get through the fire, some sooner and others later. But for just that reason, the C19 theology of the Universalist Church warmly supported minatory preaching about hellfire. If you want to frighten people-- every single living soul-- into being a better person, then you should really be a old-time, fire-and-brimstone Universalist.

Richard Bauckham surveys some views of universalism at the first link. The current Wikipedia article shows the work of universalist hands.


Father Ron said...

See how these scholars argue! And all the time the Good News gets hobbled and made incomprehensible to the masses - whom Jesus came to redeem. "Where are your teachers now?"- Jesus (or was it Jesus?)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Can you say a little more about the distinction between Romans 1-4 and 5-8?
My reflection (and previously I have not much reflected on the difference between the two sets of chapters, so this is new territory for me):
- Romans 1-4: forensic, justification, Abraham, Law, sin as disobedience incurring judgement, Jesus fulfils the law and makes the final, complete sacrifice required for purifying from sin, the cross.
- Romans 5-8: relational, sanctification, Adam, Grace, sin as power vortex into which humanity has been sucked, the end of which is death, Jesus as victory over this power through the resurrection, symbolised and realised through baptism, unleashing the Spirit who does much more than empowering us to be obedient to the law because pouring out (or being the outpouring of) God's love and working through the whole universe to fulfil all God's purposes and plans.

Put like that 1-4 may or may not contradict 5-8 but they are two different approaches (albeit joined or bridged by Romans 5).

Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

"But persons actually organised as *Universalists* have sometimes said--

(b) When they die, all will go through purgative fire toward heaven.

These *universalists* are similar to *annihilationists* like John Stott."

- I do not understand this. Stott (like John Wenham and Basil Atkinson before him) came to believe (tentatively? I'm not sure) in annihilation of the impenitent, i.e. they would cease to exist rather than endure conscious eternal torment. If I understand Orthodoxy correctly (and I am not certain on this point), it appears to teach that eventually those "in hell" will repent and enter Paradise. This isn't what Stott believed.


Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

Thank you for a stimulating and useful OP!

"Put like that 1-4 may or may not contradict 5-8 but they are two different approaches (albeit joined or bridged by Romans 5)."

On the systematic plane (Deliverance, pp 73-95)-- as distinct from the exegetical one-- Campbell identifies ten tensions between the suppositions of 5-8 read alone and those of 1-4 read in accord with Justification Theory (JT). The two approaches have upstream differences in-- "(1) epistemology, (2) anthropology, (3) theology, (4) Christology and atonement, (5) soteriology, (6) faith, (7) ethics, (8) ecclesiology, (9) Judaism, (10) coercion and violent punishment." Because they are prior to and constitutive of the actual positions, he argues that they cannot be systematically bridged. For good measure, he reviews some interesting scholarly attempts to do so that fail in either simple or sophisticated ways.

So, for example (1, 2), St Paul normally emphasises that only revelation can overcome the cognitive distortions wrought in humanity by Sin and Death, but the JT reading of 1-4 posits that both pagans studying nature and Jews studying torah can know God by reason. And (3) St Paul elsewhere stresses God's inherent benevolence as Father, Son, and Spirit, but the JT 1-4 presents a Monad whose critical attribute is retributive justice. Thus, as you say (4), St Paul most often presents the whole work of Christ-- birth, life, cross, rising-- as transforming the creation for the Father's purposes, whilst the JT 1-4 knows Christ's work only as paying a penalty for retributive justice.

To these different gods and works correlate contrasting notions of salvation (5): normally trinitarian, participatory, and unconditional in St Paul, it is merely individual and conditional in JT's 1-4. And so, St Paul's faith (6) is a broad complex of dispositions that is largely beyond the narrower scope of JT's reading of 1-4. Similarly, the ethos and ethics (7) that are intrinsic to St Paul's gospel of new creation, are only extrinsic, if that, to JT readings of 1-4.

In fact, St Paul's *Body*, in which the *new creation* is instantiated however momentarily confused, is not strictly necessary to an individual whose JT salvation is simply to evade the retribution of 1-4 by thinking the right thoughts. St Paul's rich *ekklesia* is the transform of an Israel that was elected, called, and led through time, whilst the solitary Jew of JT 1-4 is just a hypothetical Everyman who has not yet discovered his danger. Finally, since God's *new creation* has no use for retributive punishment, St Paul's letters do not imagine the Body on the analogy of the state, as theology motivated by JT 1-4 has often done.

In other words that we used here a few years ago, St Paul is reliably on Team B, but when he is read on the suppositions of JT, he plays as best he can in the colors of Team A. And where did we find Teams B and A? In the heart of English Puritanism.

William Perkins's and William Ames's stress on divine power and rational assent minimised the Body in Team A ways familiar to those who find the gospel in a JT reading of Romans 1-4. Richard Sibbes and John Cotton were no less Reformed, but preached a Team B gospel of divine love that was notably more attuned to the participatory and mystical themes of Romans 5-8. The reaction against Ritschl in Deissmann and Schweitzer made these tensions a problem for scholars like Campbell. But long before that, pastors and souls were finding divergent ways to God in the same epistle.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, James, you may have been confused by my hasty typing.

The Universalist Church believed in purgative fire after death as a consequence of sin and impenitence. They did not believe that fire would be eternal, nor that its purpose was retributive. Not *eternal* because the Greek *aionion* does not usually mean that. Not retributive because that does not make sense of the God and gospel found in say Romans 8. The Universalists were not Orthodox, but they did model their soteriology on the *consensus patrum* of the first several centuries as the C19 understood that. While one can certainly find allusions to divine retribution in the East (eg in Chrysostom), it is not the Big Idea that it became in the West after St Augustine of Hippo.

"This isn't what Stott believed."

No, clearly not. As I understand him, Stott might have agreed with the old Universalists on *aionion*, and also that endless torment was disproportionate and so unworthy of God, but not in the rejection of retributive justice per se. As you know, because older evangelicals are usually firmly holding PSA over against liberal exemplarism, they have another investment in a well-conceived notion of retributive justice. The debate continues.

"If I understand Orthodoxy correctly..."

Nobody is certain about *universal salvation* in the East. In principle, the seven ecumenical councils, 325-787, are the entire dogmatic deposit of Orthodoxy, and if the fifth council in fact condemned the idea as is usually chronicled, it is heresy. Full stop. Right?

But some doubt that the fifth council acted on the matter at all-- they object that Justinian circumvented it-- and others doubt that its putative anathema against Origen covers all forms of universal salvation. Finally, because there is a consensus in the East that Augustine, although brilliant, is too idiosyncratic to be reliable, Orthodox eschatology has to be done without relying on the Western distinctives.

From one Orthodox perspective, David Bentley Hart published a defense of universal salvation last year. Some of his exegetical reasoning also appears in the notes to his translation of the New Testament.

Readers tend to shoehorn all patristic soteriology into either a Western juridical model or an Eastern participatory one. That is not unrelated to the problem that Campbell is trying to solve in Deliverance. But Donald Fairbairn's suggestion of a third way and his observation that hybrids have been more common than pure types seems wise.


Anonymous said...

"See how these scholars argue!"

Yes, I am GRATEFUL to both + Peter and James for their attention to this OP etc. These are difficult times, and we all have a lot to do (and alas not do), but it would be good if they were able to stay with this and related threads. And maybe Bryden will show up soon! We have the right balance of attention and scepticism.

"And all the time the Good News gets hobbled and made incomprehensible to the masses."

No, Father Ron, this is youth retreat stuff.

Leader: Spread the gospel!

Youth: How?

Leader: Tell others that God loves them.

Youth: But they think God hates us all because he wants to punish us for not keeping rules.

Leader: But the rules too are part of God's love. When we live better and are better, we are also happier.

Youth: But if you can't keep the rules no matter how hard you try, you end up in hell, and nobody is happy there. Everybody knows that. So what are we supposed to say?

Leader: Tell others that God loves them, that the rules are part of that love, and that he himself will help you to keep them. It's a win/win.

Youth: But that still does not make sense. If the ability to keep the rules depends on God, then why does his judgement fall on us? (Sort of like a teacher who cannot teach calculus giving us marks on how well we understand it. Absurd!)

Leader: It doesn't fall on you if you are faithful. It fell on Jesus. And that faithfulness that lets God help you is kindled by recognition of God's love. So that's why our message about God's love is so helpful to the world.

Youth: But what good did killing Jesus do? That's part of what is so weird about this! And how can anyone believe in love that may result in utter rejection? "I love you, marry me, but if I think it's a mistake, I may kill you." NOBODY would marry if that were the deal, so why would anyone ANYONE believe-- really believe, not fake-adult-pretend-believe-- that God loves them when he is hanging hell over their head? "I love you, marry me, and if I think it's a mistake, I promise not to kill you." That makes a lot more sense to EVERY human brain that ever was, but when I listen to you I realise that it's not the gospel. Or at least it's not your gospel.

Leader: Do you think that I am lying to you!?

Youth: I think that, with the best of intentions, you are lying to yourself. You are trying to convince yourself that your brain has done something that brains cannot do. I don't know why. But if I do not see how YOU can believe this strange stuff, then how can I believe it?

Leader: If I said what you want me to say, would everything make sense?

Youth: No. That would get obvious self-deception out of the way. But just talking would not show what attracts you to this gospel, and how you are believing it when it works for you.

Admittedly, Father Ron, I have not led a youth retreat in decades. But the kids I meet today with their blended families, piercings, tattoos, coloured hair, preferred pronouns, polyamorous relationships, etc do not seem any less sceptical than their grandparents and parents were. And looking at the stats, it certainly looks as though your masses left the scholars behind sometime in the middle of the last century. So if it takes an occasional thousand page book on St Paul for us to catch up to the conversation in the streets, those of us who want to communicate there will read and discuss it. Perhaps you read Richard Rohr on non-dualist Christianity for much the same reason?

Now that the plague has reached the blessed isles, please be very careful. As always, you, yours, and your community are in my prayers.


Anonymous said...

Now I've had the chance to read more, hear Campbell in his own trenchant and very self-confident words (youtube interview link from BW) and to think more about his claims and I must conclude, 'C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas l'Evangile'. His work is riddled with special pleading, a distortion of Reformed understanding of justification, and poorly-founded exegesis of key texts. Here are five problems, for the sake of argument.
1. The 'Teacher' (some sort of 'Jewish-Christian' enemy of Paul in Rome, we are told) is the product of Campbell's exegetical imagination. The text doesn't lead to or require any such conclusion that a parodied 'debate' is going on. But Campbell resorts to this to dismiss as 'un-Pauline' any material he disagree with (e.g. the 'retributive' texts 1.18-32; 2.6-11; 3.19). Procustean exegesis?
2. Campbell's exegesis of Romans 1.16-17 is very unlikely (that this refers to God 'saving' the unjustly crucified Messiah). No such Messianic understanding is found in the OT or Judaism, and Paul never calls Christ 'ho dikaios', whereas the term is used for Christians.
3. 'Faith' (pistis) in Paul among Christians means much more than just 'fidelity'; it *does mean laying hold of the salvation in Christ (Romans 10.9-10). Personal faith *does matter.
4. To argue that the 'righteousness of God' means only 'benevolent liberation' and bears no relation to what is 'right' does violence to the complexity of the word. The Psalms show this too: God's righteousness (tsedeqah) does entail judging the nations (Ps 98.9) as well as saving Israel (v. 2).
5. Campbell's interpretation of Paul is at war with the rest of the New Testament. For example, in 'The Deliverance of God' p. 706 he asserts there is "no retributive character to the God revealed to Paul by Christ'; while there are plenty of warnings about hell on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels. Or by re-interpreting 'pistis' as 'fidelity' he sets Paul at variance with John's gospel, with its constant stress on 'faith in (eis) Christ'.
Campbell's fulminations against horrible, mean-spirited 'contract' (against generous, benevolent 'covenant') create more problems than they solve and they do lead to the bizarre conclusions that personal faith isn't necessary to 'access' the 'liberative righteousness of God' and everyone will be saved. Such are the perils of monocular vision. To adapt Niebuhr, a God without wrath brought ALL men (and women) with sin (but that's no big deal) into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ with a Cross (which was unfair but sorted out by his resurrection, in a non-substitutionary way).


Anonymous said...

From the Henry Center on Campbell's Deliverance of God--


Anonymous said...

As I was working through another section of Campbell's Deliverance, I was interrupted to answer a yes-or-no question about a legal document related to the plague. A basic difference between the two kinds of interpretation was suddenly obvious.

The document I could simply construe. It did refer to other documents of prior authority-- a state constitution, a state statute, a Federal regulation, an executive order from the President-- but the way that the words in all of these make meaning is utterly familiar. This is not surprising-- the document is for the general public in this place at this time. It was so conventional that, if I had asked Alexa what it said, she might have told me with reasonable accuracy.

But St Paul's Epistle to the Romans I have to interpret. It is the script that Phoebe used to impersonate the absent St Paul to one or more gatherings of Christians in Rome. St Paul wrote it, not to us, although for us, not in English, but in Greek, and not for the way we read silently in our libraries, but for the way the ancients heard letters read aloud to audiences as instructive, after-dinner entertainment. Livelier than a lecture, more didactic than performance art.

If I construe the bare text of Romans as if it had been written to me today, then I am missing much of the meaning that it had for its first listeners. But if I try to get all of the meaning that they heard, then I must choose from among the several reconstructions of that on offer. Books on St Paul's letters have grown fat in recent years because there are so many reconstructions from which to choose, and each must defend itself from the rest.

Once we have to choose, it gets interesting. Which theory best fits the data we have on Phoebe's readings of St Paul's epistles? That depends on what we count as data. It also depends on how we compare the fit with that data that each theory has with the next best theory.

The answer to the legal question was cut and dried, easy and clear-- no. The answer to the interpretive question *what does Romans mean?* is comparative. No reading is perfect but some X has a somewhat better fit with the data than Y and Z. Schreiner or Moo? Campbell or Wright? Not even the best is likely to be perfect.


Anonymous said...

Scot McKnight on Pauline Dogmatics--


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for recent comments here Bowman and James.
Excellent for at least my own puny mind to be stretched.
Especial thanks for Scot McKnight's post.

James: I am not read enough in either Campbell's Pauline Dogmatics or in Deliverance (which I simply haven't read) to affirm or deny your criticisms.

But I do say this: I find Romans 2 apropos the remainder of Romans very puzzling! It seems somewhat "works" oriented and disruptive of the flow of God's inclusive grace ...

Anonymous said...

I'm amused by the idea that a legal text is blindingly clear (to speak oxymoronically). If it was, we would be free of half of that particular plague. But as for Paul, he didn't write only Romans and if he was a consistent thinker (let alone heaven-chosen Apostle of Christ guided by the Holy Spirit), his other writings will line up and shed mutual light; and if he is an apostle of Christ, he will not disagree with what Jesus or John or Peter taught. Campbell's invented Paul does, and that's primarily why I reject it - along with his exegetical errors.
Peter, you can verify what I said by checking the page references given.
Did Phoebe actually do "readings" of Romans to the house churches in Rome, as BW suggests? In the words of Chief Thaddaeus, "Max, I find that very hard to believe." Was it like Adam Schiff "reading" the Trump-Zelensky phone transcript along with the funny voices? Yes, I can just see how chapter 2 would be done, along with every Shylock trope of a ham actress (OK, maybe not ham). And how strange that Campbell, who otherwise approaches the New Testament in the modern, liberal way should assert that ch. 16 is originally part of the letter when most liberal critics deny this. He does this in order to find his supposed 'contractual', retributive Jewish Christian "Teacher" in verses 17-18. (On the other hand, Campbell denies - as did Ernst Haenchen who took a very skeptical view of the historicity of Acts - that Paul ever appeared before the Areopagus. Campbell says Luke, sorry, Syzygus (!) invented this to make Paul look like Socrates on trial, but this looks nothing at all like the trial of Socrates. My hunch is that Campbell doesn't like what Acts 17.31 says about judgment and the dikaiosune of God. He doesn't accept that Paul could say such a thing, therefore the Gospel writer Syzygus invented this. Theological Procrusteanism. As well as repristinated Marcionitism, because Campbell's Paul's benevolent "covenantal" God is evidently not the retributive, "contractual" God of the Old Testament. There, that will keep your youth group happy, BW! (Does the Episcopal Church actually have a youth group?)


Anonymous said...

Peter, the essential argument of Deliverance is that--

(i) Justification Theory (JT) obscures the gospel of grace found in Romans 5-8 (5-8T);

(ii) Certain ideas essential to JT are only supported by an interpretation of the argument of Romans 1-4 that is both underdetermined and overdetermined by the text;

(iii) Recognition of the speech-in-character in Romans 1:16-3:20 not only disrupts the JT reading of 1-4, but also confirms and illumines 5-8 and other parts of the epistle;

(iv) Thus 5-8T can better explain Romans and the rest of the pauline canon;

(v) And JT has been irreversibly discredited.

If the NPP was something of a wrecking ball for JT, then Campbell, who considers his position to be beyond that, is cheerfully bulldozing the ruins over a cliff and planting flowers where it once stood.

You may be less interested in what Campbell says about JT than in the overlap between his readings and those of Barclay, Hays, Wright, etc.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi James and Bowman
Thank you for comments above.

Bowman: a brilliant and good for a bear of small brain summary of Deliverance. It will guide my reading since I will now aim to read it (as well as finish Pauline Dogmatics) over the next month when we are in lockdown here in NZ.

James: I don’t find that any of your criticisms of Campbell actually face the argument which is unfolding as I make my way through Pauline Dogmatics (slowly, a few pages before sleep each night). For instance, so far Campbell is expounding a robust, non-liberal view of the reality of sin, of death as a “solution” to it as a “problem”, and of resurrection as a solution to the problem of death.

However these are early days!

PS isn’t the test of whether we understand Paul’s “dogmatics” whether that understanding squares with the (arguably) most mature Pauline writing of them all: Ephesians?

Anonymous said...

Belatedly, James, thank you for your helpful 2:39 of objections to Campbell's argument in Deliverance. I am incorporating them (and any others that I can excavate from your comments) into my expanding outline of it. Keep them coming.

Yes, I assume that, like all of us, Campbell is desperately wicked. Therefore I ignore his motivations and look at his work-- what he did, what that found, what the finding might possibly have proven, and last of all what he himself thinks that it has proven. Like a latter day Warfield, he usually sets up an argument as an *explanans* for an *explanandum* of *data*, so that's how I assess its internal and external validity. If he's also a mad scientist, that's gossip, but not important.

Campbell does his own work as a *critical scholar*, but aligns that with Karl Barth and such *Apocalyptic* scholars as Beverly Gaventa and J. Louis Martyn. This matters to him, but perhaps not to the substance of the arguments published. To a large degree, Campbell has connected dots drawn years before by others.

So far as I have noticed, Campbell does not discuss Phoebe at all, and I only mentioned her myself for concreteness. But N T Wright argued from the usual sources that Phoebe read in Rome. Loving statistics, Ian Paul after Peter Head argues the reverse--

In the case of Rome, where St Paul had no known network of his own, I'm with Wright. But if you would rather call her Fred, that's fine too.

The point of interest is that in antiquity epistles were performed as entertainment in gatherings akin to salons. Romans was composed, not for the solitary silent literacy of later Northern European humanism with printed codices (eg Luther alone in the tower), but for the lively orality of Hellenistic culture in which the written word was luxurious (eg public readings at Cicero's). Is astonishment that St Paul composed with lively speech-in-character rather than-- what, footnotes?-- just demonstrating the depth of individualist JT resistance to the more participatory gospel of 5-8?

Anyway, commentators do not hesitate to identify quotations in St Paul's other letters, and we have no obvious reason to treat Romans as an exception. A bit more than the usual scrutiny for speech-in-character so long, of course. But it is so extravagantly unpauline that before Campbell some were claiming that it is an interpolation.

Yes, Campbell methodically avoided relying on Acts in establishing his chronology of St Paul, his ministry, and the epistles. Others, usually less methodically, muddle Acts and the letters. The question, I suppose, is whether Campbell's ultimate result explains more with more certainty than the results of others who made the other choice. And yes, even neutestamentlers can move fast and break things; that's why God makes systematicians to put them back together.

TEC parishes have plenty of youth work-- parish children, college kids in college towns, young adults in big cities. But speaking stereotypically, mainline parents, including Episcopalians, do not have the concern of say Southern Baptist parents that their children need to be converted to the faith. Consequently, like the rest of the mainline, TEC loses as many as it gains, while the growth of the SBC has only recently begun to flatten. As they say in business, it is easier to keep a customer than to get one.


Anonymous said...

No time to answer in extenso here (I may have an opportunity later), but simply to say that what Campbell calls "Justification Theory" is really little different from Augustinian Lutheranism, although he caricatures and distorts reformed theology, as a whole host of commentators have remarked. And he thinks he has not only "wrecked" Lutheranism but also that rather protean thing the NPP (Dunn's baby) as well as Wright's perspective, such is the confidence of Campbell. Wright thought that he was correcting only 500 years of error, but Campbell is clearing away 1600 or maybe 1900 years of confusion. Wright at least tries to fit Romans 4 into his scheme, although he makes a mess of it.
Of course, it's all ass-backwards. If you label something "unpauline", you mean you already know what is "Pauline". But if it is one of his letters, maybe it's because Paul's thinking is more complex than Campbell's one-sided caricature of justification, aka Augustinian Lutheranism.
More if I have time. Peter: Don't forget to cut out the Pastoral Epistles from your New Testament because Campbell knows they are pseudepigrapha from c. 150 (and all those bits in John's Gospel where Jesus threatens judgment on unbelief and wickedness and where he commands people to have faith- pistis- in him. Nasty unpauline stuff.) The best hatchet job on the New Testament since Thomas Jefferson, but still some way to go before it's full blown Marcionitism.


Anonymous said...

"But I do say this: I find Romans 2 apropos the remainder of Romans very puzzling! It seems somewhat "works" oriented and disruptive of the flow of God's inclusive grace ..."

Campbell reads 1:18-3:20 as a diatribe in two voices. In it, St Paul is using the common strategy of universalization in 2 to demonstrate the internal incoherence of the Teacher's gospel in 1:18-32. Two voices, inner contradiction-- yes, the potential for readerly confusion is there, as myriad bible studies know! But presumably, audiences used to hearing the strategy would have recognized what St Paul was doing as soon as the parody began.

Incoherence? As a missionary himself, the Teacher is preaching God's wrath on evil to motivate compliance with law and circumcision, so that the Roman Christians will be safe Jews. But if the wrath is just, it is universal, and that universality unravels the Jewish distinctives. Once the Teacher has been forced to concede that neither the law nor circumcision is keeping anyone safe, the way has been cleared for St Paul to present his own gospel.

At (iii) in my 1:53, I noted that Campbell argues that this diatribe "not only disrupts the JT reading of 1-4, but also confirms and illumines 5-8 and other parts of the epistle." The disruption is not simply that the diatribe does not attribute 1:18-32 to St Paul; as noted, the markedly unpauline style of that passage had already interdicted untroubled attribution. It is that the universalization move is an engine of negation that will work against JT and anything else short of the gospel of transformation in Christ and the Spirit in Romans 5-8.

Moreover, in reaffirming the Jewish god's judgment (3:10-20) but denying that he has granted any safety in Jewish distinctives, St Paul is inducing his hearers to ask themselves how they themselves can relate to him and, anyway, what kind of a god he is. This paves the way for a re-presentation of the faith of Abraham in 4 as the seed of a new way of relating, and the re-introduction to God in Christ and the Spirit in 5-8 that makes this an *Apocalyptic* (if one prefers, Barthian) reading. As this is the full revelation of the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Israel's place in his plan must be re-imagined as is done in 9-11. Then on to daily life in 12-15, with two parting thoughts at 16: vv 17-20 reprise the ironic impersonation of the Teacher in the diatribe (cf 1:29), and vv 25-27 the integration of "strengthen[ing]" with "revelation" (cf 1:16-17).

"(v) And JT has been irreversibly discredited." The words are mine, but fairly represent several statements in Deliverance. Campbell deduces this conclusion from five complex upstream judgments--

(1) Because essential components of JT are only found in Romans 1-4, an interpretation that denies those chapters to JT makes it untenable.

(2) The interpretation of 1-4 in Deliverance is not compatible with JT.

(3) The interpretation of 1-4 in Deliverance solves exegetical problems and explains textual data that no JT interpretation of the chapters has.

(4) The interpretation of 1-4 in Deliverance has few or no cruxes or gaps unique to itself.

(5) The *explanans* that best explains the *explananda* is the most true of the available interpretations.

Deliverance 50, JT 0. Some people will shout at the ref, complain about the rules, etc but among reasonable scholars, it's over. So he says...


Anonymous said...

"He caricatures and distorts..."

Something like that. He has at least tried to axiomatize the work of several modern and contemporary exegetes into a model of JT, and his arguments about JT thereafter concern that model. I say: if the shoe does not fit, do not wear it.

But similarly, his account of what I abbreviate 5-8T is also an axiomatized model, and I am not yet sure who that shoe is meant to fit. Yes, 5-8T is warmly advocated by John Calvin in places like Institutes III, but also by George Fox and St Gregory Palamas. Campbell has clearly avoided the scientific sin of mere data-fitting, but one could ask whether this model is informative enough to do more than bash his model of JT. Arguably, Pauline Dogmatics is intended to answer that question.

And I am perplexed by certain of his pages on Luther (Deliverance 253) and Tuomo Mannermaa (Deliverance 265). Luther's early Heidelberg Disputation (1518) exemplifies the contrast that Luther drew between Two Kinds Of Love, human (eg Aristotle) and divine (eg Bible), when he argued that God by his creative nature loved sinners because they are sinners. Campbell says about the same Heidelberg Disputation that "the powerful and elegant inversions of this pamphlet... seem to presuppose the distinctive argumentation of Justification..." What?!

Mannermaa and his Finnish colleagues argued that Luther, in our terms here, based his JT on an underlying 5-8T that is surprisingly close to Byzantine theosis. On the face of it, that would seem to be a flat *reductio ad absurdum* for the opposition that Campbell posits between the two models. Campbell acknowledges the Finnish School, and explains its distinctive claim clearly, but then concedes only that Luther taught more than JT without addressing the intriguing thought that 5-8T could actually generate JT.

A duck cannot be a cow. Rather than complain that a biblical scholar is not always a reliable historical theologian as well, or that the Reformed do not get Luther-- if they did, they would be Lutheran-- I note that grand scale projects have their place in the life of an ecumenical Body in a global village, but that we foolishly rely on individual polymaths rather than-- why not?-- interdisciplinary teams to do them.

"...reformed theology..."

To be clear, the Reformed tribe has many clans, and all of them claim that the others caricature and distort Reformed and reformed theology. Campbell is a Protestant who often quotes Calvin and hangs with the Barthians and Torrances.

(Anglican churches are not Reformed, but the most elegant argument that they are is that only in them are nearly all the clans of Reformed present and amicable.)

" a whole host of commentators have remarked."

Eck wanted to talk about St Thomas's summa, but Luther slapped him with Tetzel's indulgence-peddling. In every big religious controversy, there is a tendency for the comfortable side to want to defend a sophisticated, subtly articulated version of itself, whilst the insurgent side drives tanks through the cruder popular version of it that is actually known in the streets.

So, yes, some Reformed in the Westminster clan might want to talk about Richard Gaffin's work on union with Christ which is deeply admired by a couple hundred very smart people in tiny denominations here up yonder, but in Deliverance we only read about Billy Graham and Campus Crusade for Christ who reached millions in stadiums around the world. It is unfair. Also less interesting. But like all insurgents, Campbell is out to change the world, and harnesses the strong forces rather than the weak ones.

Beware the plague. Trust in God. Write when you can.


Anonymous said...

At Eclectic Orthodoxy, Al Kimel comments on universalism in both David Bentley Hart and Douglas Campbell--


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
Quite a lot to digest in that link - many comments - some by DBH himself!!

For me the critical question about universalism is less “what does the Bible say or not actually say about heaven, hell, purgatory, infernalism, annihilationalism and the like” and more “what does the Bible say about the Love of God and the God who is Love AND do I grasp how wide, deep, long, high that love is?”

Yes, we can then discuss that (say) hell is compatible with such inexhaustible love ... purgatory (as a remedial plan etc) is also compatible ... and even universalism [in some conceptions] is not compatible (because it means God is a con artist who threatens us with an everlasting punishment which is not actually going to happen).

But I find myself thinking in a slightly different direction ... towards the patient love of the always and forever waiting Father, the arms of the loving crucified One which stretch out on the cross to bid welcome all, and the pervading Spirit which works in every nook and cranny of the universe to bring God’s purpose to fulfilment ... but I am loathe to specify just how all this might work (so not particularly inclined to imagine there is Purgatory) or even whether we could be sure that none will be lost to God (remembering the number of times I have pushed God away) ... and thus there remains urgency to evangelise even as I wonder whether I/we have any knowledge of the love of God beyond the first foaming inches of the ocean of love into which by God’s grace we have dipped out toes.

Peter Carrell said...

“our toes”

Anonymous said...

Peter, your 11:07 might be an OP someday.

Stephen Holmes argues that flat *universalism* (eg Hitler died violently but woke up peacefully, sipping tea with Mother Teresa) is a reaction-- an overreaction, in his view-- to the unsolved gospel-driven problem of seeing Christ as loving and present in hell. Had Calvin seen and solved it, he thinks, the Body and the world would be very different today.

Meanwhile the saner side of the enthusiastic infernalism that we sometimes meet here up yonder is a reaction-- an overreaction, in my view-- to the *ennui* that arises from the *anomie* that takes hold when God's love is expressed only in antinomian ways. Luther did see and solve this problem (cf Small Catechism on the Decalogue), but the Body and the world have not noticed this.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of Stephen Holmes, James may like to see this--


Anonymous said...

A clearer explanation of the argument of The Deliverance of God from Douglas Campbell--

Interesting in this video is his unusual assessment of the authorship of the pauline letters. Helpful are Campbell's explanation of idioms important in his later discussions: going forward, problem controlling the solution, Socratic reduction to absurdity, justification by faith, conditional gospel, etc. The final minutes treat the problem of recognising the scriptures as divine speech whilst taking responsibility for one's interpretive presuppositions.


Anonymous said...

For comparison, watch N T Wright in a discussion of PSA that raises some of the same issues--


Anonymous said...


Alongside the narrow Rio Grande meandering at the bottom, a Reader is seated under an umbrella with a small table. He is reading "Resurrection and Sin," Chapter 6 of Douglas Campbell's Pauline Dogmatics. On the table, there is lemonade in a pitcher and glass, and a Bible. The canyon is quiet.

The Reader puts the Pauline Dogmatics on the table and opens the Bible to read Romans v 12-21 and vii 7-25. Then he returns the Bible to the table, and pours himself a glass of lemonade.

Faint ENGINE and SCRAPING sounds are heard. The wreckage of a house tumbles over the edge of the opposite cliff, falls slowly in a shower of debris past myriad layers of sedimentary rock, and CRASHES on the canyon floor with a cloud of dust. Atop the cliff, a Kiwi in glasses with a bulldozer is waving with his hat. The Reader raises his glass and nods.


Peter Carrell said...

Some would say, Bowman, that if it is a Kiwi so pouring refreshment, it would not be lemonade!

Anonymous said...

Christos anesti, Petros!

“Some would say, Bowman, that if it is a Kiwi so pouring refreshment, it would not be lemonade!”

But of course. The blessed isles grow such excellent hops that it would be ingratitude to the Creator not to use them. Alas, the Reader in the arid valley of the Rio Grande is not so blessed. And thirsty enough to drink a pitcher before wading through the river to scavenge the wreckage on the other side, and maybe even haul some relics along the riverbank to the next place with hand holds to the top.

Having finished Part 1 of PD, I retreated to Framing Paul to review the Kiwi's rationale for his unusual 10+3 corpus. One could like his system or not on dogmatic grounds, but without fixing the extent of the corpus, we cannot know how far it is actually St Paul's system. (James, I think, was making this point, among others, earlier.) I also wanted to compare his way of interpreting the attributed letters as a whole to Brevard Childs's canonical reading of that corpus and Richard Bauckham's work on Hebrews.

The Kiwi gets to ten authentic letters through a step-wise procedure designed to prevent attributions that beg underlying questions. Very roughly, with many interesting details omitted, the procedure is this-- First off, he brackets Acts; compared to St Paul himself, it is a secondary source. Then he follows Knox in setting Romans, Galatians, and I and II Corinthians in chronological order based on their references to the collection for Jerusalem (Gal 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1–4; 2 Cor 8:1–9:15; Rom 15:25–31).

Again following Knox, he then works out the timeline implicit in St Paul's autobiographical remarks in Galatians. Both of these are relative chronologies, but Aretas's ethnarchy in Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32, 33, cf Acts 9:23, 24) is an absolute date that pins them together.

The result is a chronology for St Paul based solely on the undisputed letters into which all authentic letters should fit. In his view ten of them do, and even those that do not (Titus, I Tim, II Tim) make more sense in light of the chronology, which would explain the ancient attribution of them all to St Paul.

Anonymous said...

So what about Acts? Once there is a chronology for St Paul based solely on the testimony of the apostle himself, then one can re-read Acts with this in mind. To Campbell, the accounts of episodes in Acts resonate with references to them in the letters. In this, he sees stunning verification of the *episodic reliability* of Acts. As in the gospels, however, the sequence of minor details in Acts is more literary than historical. That is why chronologies for St Paul and his letters that are based slavishly on the sequence of episodes in Acts contradict themselves and each other. Otherwise, the letters robustly support the Acts.

Canonical reading? Pauline scholarship was stuck in a quicksand of circular reasoning. As we have seen, Campbell turned to chronology to enable an escape. Childs proposed a different remedy: reading the letters attributed to St Paul in light of their place within the canonical scheme of the New Testament as a whole. These very different proposals seem to have come to a similar broad result: the Pastorals affirm but reapply the authentic letters in a new situation.

To a canonical reader, this intracanonical reflection in the Pastorals is distinguishable but not separable from the authentic letters. But equally, readers of the Pastorals cannot be excused from a bona fide effort to see their texts within the dogmatic frame of the letters of St Paul himself. Where an exegete finds tensions within this whole, an interpreter for real life faces, not a pointless decision about authorship, but perhaps an occasion for prudent *Sachkritik* and *economy* ** like that of the Pastorals themselves.

Hebrews? The letter differs from the Pastorals in that it is not written as a *speech in character* from St Paul, and it was attributed to him relatively later. But on Childs's view, ascription of authorship functions within the canon, not only to qualify witnesses, but also to signal certain dependencies. Whoever wrote I, II, III John, you cannot read them independently of the Fourth Gospel! So a late ascription of Hebrews to St Paul should be taken seriously, but in the latter sense. Which again works both ways-- reading Hebrews canonically means acknowledging its independent voice and argument, but also doing so from within the thought world of the St Paul's letters. What preempts reading Hebrews in a dialogue with the authentic letters of St Paul similar to that of the Pastorals?

Anonymous said...

Before plunging into Part 2 of PD, I worked through Jeremy Begbie's fascinating paper at the Wheaton Theology Conference held on and with N T Wright. Wright says a lot about the Body, but has somehow not written an ecclesiology. Nevertheless Begbie reports that the *emerging* have heard a consistent one in Wright's work, and that they have found it fruitful in practice on the ground. On reflection, I have seen that other, very different experimenters have also found these ingredients in what Wright cooks up. Clearly, from the same ingredients you can cook very different dishes. But what do they do on the palate? And do Campbell's Pauline Dogmatics also have them-- or different ingredients?

Wright and Campbell are both brilliant and influential exponents of a participative understanding of the Body and its ministry. But what does that sound like in scripture-soaked preaching and look like when ordinary people set out to do church? Part 2 may have some answers, and I am using Begbie's list to tease them out and compare them to others we have already heard.

** If the Holy Spirit is using the scriptures to establish the kingdom (cf John Webster, Matthew Levering), then Sachkritik (< material judgment. German) and economy (< household governance. Greek) are inextricably related. In fact, they are the same thing. That is, when an exegete presents an interpreter with the dilemma that something written to solve a problem for the author obscures the point that he is making for those in another situation (Sachkritik) the interpreter (say, a bishop "rightly dividing the word of truth") will be stuck with a parallel dilemma that in his situation the normal application of the canons will in fact frustrate the purpose for which the Holy Spirit gave them (economy). And since the Body's tradition for applying economy (aka dispensation, accommodation) should guide the bishop in bending the canons to do what the Holy Spirit intends, so that same tradition should guide the interpreter in his dilemma. For in an episcopal church, a bishop deciding economy and an interpreter deciding Sachkritik are the same person. This is why the Holy Spirit gave the Body-- together-- scriptures, creeds, and bishops.

So Peter, when Wright and Campbell start talking about Sachkritik, they are talking-- helpfully I hope-- about you! And Lambeth, GAFCON, etc. Thanks again for an intriguing OP :-)


Anonymous said...

From Themelios, a rare comparative look at the meaning of justification in recent approaches to Paul.


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman for recent comments - and for that very deep Themelios paper!