Most of my Spring Semester was consumed researching and writing this. Enjoy...
(a PDF can also be found in the Academic Section).
By reviewing attempts by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Churches, Protestant Neo-Orthodoxy and the recent contributions of Speech Act theory on divine discourse to reconcile the two forms of the Word of God (The Written Word and the Living Word), this paper aims to address how the gap between mankind and the transcendent God can be bridged to allow for the proper order of metaphysics leading to epistemology without denigrating God’s Word by answering the question: is Christ as the illocution of God the essential link between ontology and epistemology, and thus the starting place for Christian systematic theology?
I. Howard Marshall's chapter on Revelation in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Marshall balances hotly debated topics well and remains firm on the essentials, including God as the primary actor. Christ has “immense significance in the accomplishment of God's purpose for the world and for his people, but always under God” (550). Marshall affirms what he sees as a full Christology, that Christ is the “first and foremost witness and therefore the pattern and inspiration for his followers in the church,” resurrected from the dead, ruler of kings, the recipient of doxological address, and the redeemer/liberator by means of his blood (death on the cross) who will come again (550-551). Christ also receives language reserved for God pointing to his divine nature (561-562).
Image courtesty of www.GdeFon.ru
The Meaning of the Term Kingdom (κόσμος) in John's Gospel
A Greek word study to identify the lexical range and usage to better understand what John, and by extension Jesus, had in mind when he spoke about the "World."
I. Howard Marshall's chapter on John in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. In John, Marshall rightly recognizes Jesus' claim to preexist Abraham and sees support for Christ claiming “parity with God,” but his insistence feels lacking in some areas (502). He accurately captures the main theme as Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God “who came into the world to bear witness to the truth and to give his life so that all people might have the opportunity of receiving eternal life through faith in him” (512). From here, Marshall wonderfully describes seven principal points that impact Christology, being the Logos's: 1) divine eternal nature, 2) responsibility for creation, 3) bringer of light (salvation), 4) rejection by the world, 5) human nature, 6) witnessed by disciples, and 7) the mediator of full blessing (492-493). These are summed up in Christ's role and status, where he is: God's sent one (implying that it is God's will and purpose to save the world), and the founder of salvation (not the “Revealer” so Bultmann or “mythological divine figure” so Ernst Kasemann) (512). The Bultmannian school is cast as only “superficially plausible” and “breaks down under closer inspection” since Salvation goes much deeper, being a “life in relationship with God” (520). This demands that “faith is not only an intellectual acceptance of the message, but also a total commitment of the person to Jesus and to God” since faith is a continuing relationship and not an aorist event (521).
'Kiss of Judas' by Giotto ca. 1304
Scot McKnight's The Warning Passages of Hebrews: A Formal Analysis and Theological Conclusion article in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. McKnight himself asserts that “virtually all commentators and theologians can agree” that Hebrews promotes perseverance in light of eternal punishment (36). All Christians can affirm that “Perseverance is a necessity for those who are God's people” (32), since, whether or not one can lose their salvation, those who are truly saved persevere in faith. Those who don't persevere are either false believers (unregenerate) or in McKnight's view, “lose their faith” (58). Either way, the result is the same: Persevering faith is key to God's plan. Furthermore, McKnight affirms the orthodox Christian belief for the lack of perseverance, “that those who do not persevere until the end will suffer eternal punishment at the expense of the wrath of God” (36).
August 2007 Cover
Simon Gathercole's What Did Paul Really Mean? article in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Since the New Perspective focuses narrowly on what Paul says about Justification, which strikes at the heart of Soteriology (the means by which God planned to save mankind), it must be taken seriously. The issue is when the New Perspective is applied to Paul as his dedication “to warning against exclusivist national righteousness” (25) to the destruction of Justification. Gathercole does well critiquing the new perspective while saying that Jews still need to hear the gospel. The crux of his argument is rightfully “Christian faith” not as an add on to life, but something that “requires a complete reorientation of our whole attitude” and “response to God's specific promises” (27). His conclusion describing “what kind of faith” the bible defines and “what is wrong with works of the law” deserves a hearty “amen!” as he stresses that Paul “stresses that God is the sole operator in salvation” (28). Ultimately, he hits the nail on the head by stating that “true unity comes not at the expense of doctrine, but precisely around the central truths of the gospel” (27).
I. Howard Marshall's chapter on Romans in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Marshall strongly affirms that Paul's main them in Romans in none other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ's ability to save and the subsequent answer to “Why?”. He thus affirms Paul's explanation that all people are sinners since “failure to acknowledge God leads to sinfulness” (308). This is the result of Original sin as revealed by the Law (since its role in salvation history is not a means of getting “right with God by observing the law” (309)). Salvation is portrayed as exclusively available through justification by grace through faith in Christ, whose blood was shed on the cross for sin since “to be justified is to be put into a right relationship with God, in which the sins that persons have committed are no longer counted against them and consequently they can enter into a relationship with God characterized by peace and not wrath” (310). Resurrection is indicated as “an integral part of the saving event and not just simply the restoration of Jesus to life...” after dying for sin (313).
Universalism (via postmortem persuasion, etc.) is dismissed as textually unsupported (339).
Escahtological Dualism - Already/Not Yet
Don Howell's "Pauline Eschatological Dualism and its Resulting Tensions" in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Many of the attributes, or defining characteristics, of this present age and new age (regardless of the understanding of their relationship to one another) are Dogma level issues including: sin as a dominating force of the present age as both “human solidarity with Adam” in original sin and sin “as individual acts of rebellion against God's will” which have the inevitable consequence of death physically or spiritually (13); new life as the replacement or removal of the reality of sin as the believer is incorporated into Christ (14).
Howell rightly rejects the idea that “Jesus had mistakenly expected or proclaimed the imminence of the Kingdom (5). For any position, such as A. Sweitzer's, that sees Jesus' proclamation as failure not only negates Christ's mission, but also his deity.
I. Howard Marshall's chapter on Galatians in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Paul's reason for writing the letter to the Galatians deals with the very heart of the Gospel and thus most of the concepts fall under Dogma. Marshall clearly articulates the Gospel presented in the letter as how “a person could be put right with God or enter into a right relationship with him or be counted as 'righteous' only through believing in Jesus Christ and not by observance of the Jewish law” (215). Furthermore, Marshall promotes that there was one solid understanding of the Gospel as shared by all the Apostles and dismisses theories by Baur that Paul and Peter were rivals with a different understanding of the Gospel (215). He also affirms Paul's separate divine calling that was approved by the Apostles and the church in Jerusalem as a historical event, therefore in acceptance of Christ's theology (214). Hence, it is right to see the purpose of the Law not as an alternative way of life or means of salvation, but “to lead people to Christ by making them realize that they were sinners” (218).
Don Howell's "Pauline Thought in the History of Interpretation" in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Howell indirectly affirms the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity and directly asserts the necessary role of the Holy Spirit in a person's salvation through conviction, conversion, sanctification, and wise exercise of Spiritual gifts (214).
Doctrines. Howell affirms Roland Allen's assessment that missionaries and church planters often lack “confidence in the Holy Spirit to build the church” (203), but Paul called his converts to rely on the Holy Spirit to live out their faith rather than on his direction (204). Similarly, “he trusted the Spirit to guide the leaders in their oversight of the church” (204), for any church not led by the Holy Spirit is a cult, being led either by man or an alien spirit.