Willimon, Powers, and maybe not going far enough

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I am not a Willimon expert, but I have to wonder if he is not an adherent to Christus Victor. I get this sense from his near-constant use of the cosmic metaphor. For example,

Christians are witnesses to a great cosmic incursion, an invasion in which god, rather than being distant from the world, has daringly entered the world (Gal. 4.4). The world is God’s contested territory in a vast program of reclamation.

Alright, I guess that is a pretty enough picture. Theological, but a little science fiction. Can we, the modern thinker, still hold to the notion of the Christus Victor, however, and see salvation as God bursting forth, defeating the powers and principalities? He (again) quotes Barth who loved the phrase “Jesus is Victor!”. Our author goes on to note that this love of Christ has ‘defeated the principalities and powers….and forever secured all creation as his territory.’ The one thing which Willimon doesn’t do is to name them (yet). Here, I am reminded of Gombis‘ work in which while exploring Paul’s use of the dramatic in Ephesians, notes that we shouldn’t name those powers, but steadily work against them. But Willimon goes on to connect Genesis to Golgotha with, “God’s Genesis assault upon chaos was brought to glorious fulfillment in Jesus’ victory on Golgotha.” All of this, to me, is a wonderful way of hiding the fact that Willimon may in fact be a closet henotheist and understands that the Most High God has defeated the powers of chaos through Christ but will not name what these powers are.

Can any respected theologian go so far as to comment on who or what these powers might be without threatening their monotheism? Or, perhaps I am going too far.

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Is McGrath being fair or a monotheist?

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In a subject likely to cause some heartache, the professor has decided to resurrect the controversy known as ‘Was Paul a Monotheist Like we Define Monotheism Today’ bit. He asks:

You already know what I think, and it has been a while since the biblioblogs were alive with a discussion of monotheism and Christology. So let’s hear from others. What do you think Paul meant in this passage? Was Paul a monotheist in exactly the same sense as his other Jewish contemporaries? Please answer in the comments here, or on your own blog!

It is in reference to 1 Corinthians 8.6 which reads:

NAB  1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist.

NLT  1 Corinthians 8:6 But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.

Annoyance, and I’ll tell you why. He wants us to decide if Paul was a “monotheist in exactly the same sense as his other Jewish contemporaries.” Um…. to that I’d say… trick question.

Varying views of monotheism and even lingering henotheism survived. Truth be told, as one who currently subscribes to the Christus Victor theory as the only God-given, inerrant, and infallible image of salvation which if changed would so shatter my faith that I would become an a-theist, I see in Paul a lingering amount, or a healthy respect of henotheism which would allow for a figure which was given the divine name in order to vanquish the powers… which doesn’t require pre-existence, allows for the union of divine identity, and still allows for complete humanity.

But, alas, I did name my youngest daughter Sophia too.

This is and should be an interesting discussion. Let’s see where it takes us and what side(s) I end up arguing for.

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Could I get a little help form my friends? Exodus 12.12

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The Lectionary before Easter included a bit on the Passover. Upon hearing it, because it is meant to be heard, something stood out to me:

NAB  Exodus 12:12 For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first– born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt– I, the LORD!

NLT  Exodus 12:12 On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the LORD!

NRS  Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.

Think Christus Victor model.

Anyway, before we move into Christian Theological Speculation, I was wondering how this might fit into ANE material. YHWH is rescuing his people by attacking the other gods, especially the Egyptian gods. He is attacking the other gods by slaying the firstborn. Well, that’s how I read it.

It seems to me, that the firstborn was devoted to the particular god so in slaying the firstborn, that god was deprived of representation or other power on earth.

Or am I drawing a connection between the judgment against the gods and the execution (sentence) of the firstborn?

Thoughts? Any articles on this particular verse and how it fit into either henotheism or developing monotheism?

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Are you a monotheist or a henotheist?

Pastor Bob has a post up in response to something Miroslav Volf said. Read it here:

Ponderings on a Faith Journey: Are Christians (at times) henotheists not monotheists?.

Okay, so here are my thoughts.

We know that Israel, for a very long time, were henotheists. It looks like Paul recognized ‘powers’. So what if he was a mix between the two? Why are we so stuck on what we think is monotheism?

What if there are other powers, cosmically, which Christ has defeated?

But, Volf is correct. When we start taking God for our own tribe, or nation, then we are creating a henotheistic cosmology.

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