Friday, June 20, 2008
The Theme of Romans: Calvin, Barth, and Wright
Contrast the following commentaries on Romans and their conclusion on Rom. 1.16-17:
Calvin: "We have now the principal point or the main hinge of the first part of this Epistle, that we are justified by faith through the mercy of God alone. We have not this, indeed as yet distinctly expressed by Paul; but from his own words it will hereafter be made very clear that the righteousness, which is grounded on faith, depends entirely on the mercy of God" (p. 29).
Barth: "Where the faithfulness of God encounters the fidelity of men, there is manifested His righteousness. There shall the righteous man live. This is the theme of the Epistle to the Romans" (p. 42).
Wright: "Romans has been thought of for centuries as the letter in which Paul expounds his doctrine of ‘justification by faith’. This half-truth has opened up some aspects of the letter and concealed others. As will become clear, the theological content of this substantial opening section contains ‘justification by faith’ within it by implication, but this is not the stated theme of the letter. The theme is, to repeat once more, the revelation of God’s righteousness, God’s covenant faithfulness, God’s justice, in and through the gospel proclamation of the crucified and risen Messiah … but this letter has announced itself as a treatment, not so much of humans, their plight and their rescue (though all of that has its proper place), but of God – God’s gospel, God’s righteousness. We will not understand Romans unless we grasp this from the outset and remember it throughout" (p. 426).