Re: Adam and Eve (fwd)...Justification

From: george murphy (
Date: Thu May 02 2002 - 15:41:25 EDT

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    Joel Cannon wrote:

    > 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.

         I agree that
         1) 1st century Judaism was not a religion of naive works
    righteousness & that
    Pharisaic Judaism has often been misunderstood (including by Luther)
    to be such,
         2) the question "How can I find a gracious God?" in Luther's
    sense is not the
    primary concern of Paul.
         But having said that Luther et al. did not fully understand
    Paul's context or
    concerns, I think they discerned his claim and its implications
    correctly. Paul's
    argument especially in Romans & Galatians, is that God "justifies the
    ungodly". &
    that is not entirely outside the science & Christianity area, because
    in Romans 4
    Paul links that (v.5) with the resurrection of the dead and creatio
    ex nihilo, two
    topics being discussed here on parallel threads. & the kind of challenge to
    creatio ex nihilo presented by process theology also impacts the doctrine of


    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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