Tuesday, May 08, 2007
VanLandingham on Paul's Soteriol
I'm now turning my attention fully to Chris VanLandingham's book Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and Paul for an article length review. In his conclusion, VanLandingham writes:
The Last Judgment is not a judgment over the work of Christ or even over what the Holy Spirit has done in the believer; it is a judgment over the individual and what he or she has done. The work of Christ has made it possible to receive approbation iin a judgment according to deeds, but not because God is merdiful toward the Christian based on Christ’s merit, nor because in God’s perception Christ’s death has made it as though the Christian has never sinned. Rather, the process of salvation is worked out as follows: At the time of faith, a person who has been “made righteous” is forgiven of past sins (which become a dead issue), cleansed from guilt and impurity of sin, freed from the human propensity to sin, and then given the ability to obey. The Last Judgment will then determine whether a person, as an act of the will, has followed through with these benefits of Christ’s death. If so, eternal life will be the reward; if not, damnation.
VanL sees Paul's language of righteousness as referring principally to cleansing and purification from sin, freedom from sin's power, and forgiveness of sin as an "initiating-event"; but it has nothing to do with a forensic declaration, it is not relational, and does not refer to acquittal at the final judgment. While I agree with several of the points he raises (e.g. Paul's dikai language is more about enacting or executing justice than with just making declarations about something [see Luke 18.1-8 and Mark Seifrid on this point]), I nonethless think that many of his arguments are contestable. More anon.