Justification – Five Views, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (Joel) @ivpacademic #convinced?

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And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. (2 Peter 1.4)

Upon reading this chapter, I am struck with the shame of the paltry human existence afforded to us measured in years. The Mannermaa school has separated Luther from Lutheranism and began the track back to an ecumenical standing by allowing Luther to still be Catholic and not Lutheran through the words of Melanchton which leads me to wonder, ‘What if Luther had lived another fifty years?’ Might we see better theology if our theologians lived longer and where able, well into the next generation, correct their spiritual descendents? The same which is said of Luther is said of Wesley as well and so, I find some compatibility with the Mannermaa school’s separation anxiety. The separation and repair of the Theology from the Theologian is not the only points of union between Mannermaa and myself. What could be called sanctification or perfection, these new Luther-ans are calling effective justification and giving a proper acknowledgement to both the Spirit and the role which works should play in the life of the believer. There is the active participation of Christ in the life of the saint and indeed, the saint in Christ.

I am more nearly convinced with Kärkkäinen’s views than I have been before. It, for me, carries the necessary elements of sound theology. First, it is biblically based and allows for a broad interpretation so that the various tensions through images are upheld as equal. Second, it is based in history with both Luther and Athanasius contributing their respective intellects to the development of the overall view. Third, it contains the elements of the Spirit, what I believe would be a sacramental theology (this is somewhat validated with both Horton’s and Bird’s responses), and the call to good works. Finally, it is of an ecumenical, albeit a somewhat cautiously realistic one, nature in that the author begins with the Joint Declaration signed by the Vatican and the World Lutheran Federation in 1999 and moves into broader Protestantism (mentioning the Anabaptists and even Methodists along the way) while seeking to encounter the East as a living and necessary stream to Christianity, something that should not be surprising from Finland. As a postscript, let me add that this theology seems to be rooted as well in recent biblical scholarship, specifically, from the New Perspective on Paul. It meets the progression of theology with open arms. What I found lacking (and this is echoed in Bird’s response) is that theosis is simply not defined.

Horton’s response is absolutely beautiful and is quite different in tone than his previous ones, including his own essay. He defends the Reformed view, not by speaking against others, but speaking for his own stance in such a way that his passion is not just seen, but read. It is the passion of a man in love with Christ. Yet, I do not think that he sees the stark difference between the idea of Christ in and Christ upon (247). While for the first time I see something resembling the usual Trinitarian notion of the work of the Spirit with Horton, it barely scratches the surface compared to Kärkkäinen. For me, this is the main issue with any doctrine – what role does the covenanting act of the Spirit play? For Horton, it still seems that we are but individual parts of the body of Christ, mystical or not, while for the present author, there is real unity. Bird’s response is powerful, and answers (perhaps too much so) to the dangers of an extreme theosis. Dunn begins by noting the rather loose connection between the fully developed Eastern notion(s) of theosis and the New Testament, something which as a scholar in that field, restricts him from pressing on. To be honest, I do not know what make of Dunn’s stilted attitude towards the Orthodox. He suggests that they are still too defined by anti-Jewish polemics from the past with no movement to disown certain fathers or their tractates. It seems, then, that he has taken a rather easy way out and instead of speaking to theosis, speaks to history. Oliver Rafferty issues the Roman Catholic response in which he takes the present author to task for several things, including the taming of Luther, the non-discussion of Free Will and his hopeful ecumenical stances.

All in all, as I have said before, there is hope in Kärkkäinen’s view that a more broad view this theological point can be issued. One of the things lacking thus far, and especially in regards to theosis is the idea of panentheism. Further, especially in this section, I would have liked to have seen the author response succinctly to his critics (in much the same way that ]] in ]]). I am still drawn to Bird’s view, and the more so when he tempers Kärkkäinen

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