George wrote in response to Burgy:
> I have no problem with the idea that the "rewards" of those who
> "build upon the foundation" (cf. I Cor.3:10-15) will be different.
> But justification is a crucial issue that demands absolute clarity.
This will be hit and run since I don't have time to carry on an
extended discussion, my thinking is still evolving (or more
accurately being further informed), and I am too fuzzy-headed to do
anything but rile the waters. However, since I think it is a critical
issue, I will still make my comment, which also moves well outside
science and Christianity.
A crucial question here is whether Paul in Romans and elsewhere means
the same thing when he talks about justification as what George means
(presuming that I know what George means!). I am becoming
increasingly skeptical concerning this premise. Two contemporary
scholars who would say, either implicitly or explicitly, that it does
not are N.T. Wright ("What did St. Paul Really Say?") and Alistair
McGrath in his book on the history of the doctrine of justification (I
am relying on a quote from Wright here---it appeared to me that
McGrath was trying to squirt around the issue). Another important
historical essay which made a big impression on me many years ago was
Krister Stendahl's, "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience
of the West." (may have the last of the title incorrect---reprinted in
a short book whose title escapes me) which argued that the guilty
conscience that controlled Martin Luther is completely absent in Paul
(Romans 7 included). Another useful book, although I do not recall it
touching explicitly on justification is, Richard Hays, "Echoes of
Scripture in the Letters of Paul."
One issue on which this question hinges is whether John Calvin and
Martin Luther correctly understood first century Judaism when they
interpret it to be a religion of works-righteousness
(Proto-Pelagianism) or whether they have projected the mindset of
medieval Catholicism onto Judaism when they are reading the text
(equivalently, have they abstracted the text out of its 1rst century
context). Wright makes a convincing case, relying in part on
E.P. Sanders, "Paul and Palestinian Judaism" ("The Sanders
revolution") that what we call "works-righteousness" was not part of
first century Judaism, and did not exist anywhere until several
centuries later. It is therefore inappropriate to read Romans or any
other New Testament text this way.
To George's statement that the reformation was made necessary because
of statements like Burgy's
>"The eternal destiny of human beings
> >will be measured by how much or how little solidarity
> >we have displayed with the hungry, the thirsty,
> >the naked, and the oppressed.
> >In the end, we will be judged in terms of love."
we might counter that it was made necessary by medieval Catholicism's
works-righteousness, which is quite different than Burgy's
statement. We should say clearly that if anyone anywhere thinks that
they can earn their way into good favor with God they are mistaken.
However, that is different than saying we should be able to identify
God's people by the good works they do.
With some trepidation, I submit this response to our Lutheran
physicist/theologian George Murphy and the numerous Calvinists on the
list, hoping that I have the resolve to let him/them have the last word.
Joel W. Cannon | (724)223-6146
Physics Department | email@example.com
Washington and Jefferson College |
Washington, PA 15301 |
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