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
argument especially in Romans & Galatians, is that God "justifies the
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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