Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Which Gospel, which theology?

"Humans are rational and capable of accurate theological reflection, and thus ethical. God is just and is known to everyone, and his ethical demands are revealed to Jews through written legislation, but are known to everyone else innately. Reward and punishment will be appropriated by God on the basis of righteous actions -- "on the basis of desert" -- with any earthly injustices rectified by a final judgment. Since humans are inherently sinful -- that is, they violate God's ethical demands, and probably often -- honest self-reflection concludes that God's final judgment will be largely negative. Fear of the final judgment causes people to either renew their attempts at righteousness (falling into a "loop of despair") or retreat into self-righteous denial, boasting, and hypocritically judging others (the "loop of foolishness"). God generously redirects the punishment due sinners onto Christ, who being sinless and divine offers limitless satisfaction through dying. He stipulates a manageable criterion, faith, so that humans who choose it will receive a positive evaluation on the day of judgment and so inherit eternal life. Ethical guidance is still necessary, but it doesn't provide the basis for salvation. The relationship between humanity and God thus remains conditional and contractual, but much more manageable with the single criterion of faith in place."

"Humans are ignorant and incapable of accurate reflection -- a disorderly mess. They inherit Adam's being, or "flesh", and are oppressed by evil forces that were released in the garden of Eden. They need to be rescued before they can even begin to think and behave properly. God initiates an elective saving action by sending his son to be martyred in the flesh and raised to an existence which provides a new template for humanity. Christ entered the human condition, assumed it, terminated it, and is now reconstituted in heaven where he continues to intercede -- through the spirit -- for people still mired in the flesh. Through no choice of their own, humans are rescued from slavery (in Adam) into a new form of slavery (in Christ), which leads to eternal life. Only in hindsight does it become clear how desperate the prior condition was in Adam. Only now is it seen that humanity is trapped and enslaved under all sorts of forces -- including the law. But with the spirit no further ethical guidance is necessary, for that would only provide more opportunity for sin and the flesh to exploit. The relationship between God and those in Christ is unconditional and apocalyptic, liberating the believer who participates in death to await resurrection."

Both are from Doug Campbell's "The Deliverance of God", you can have a guess which one he likes

1 comment:

byron smith said...

No further ethical guidance is necessary? Well, that will save some weight from my Bible.