Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's Paul's theology all about?

Bruce Longenecker, The Triumph of Abraham’s God. So well put:

[T]he driving force behind Paul’s theological presentations is the invasion of God into the world in order to subjugate forces that run contrary to God’s will and to set relationships aright. Behind any concerns for ethics, ecclesiology, pneumatology, Christology, and the like, lies a theology that focuses on God as the cosmic overlord of creation. Theology of this sort is fundamentally ‘theodicy’—that is, a defence of God’s reputation as the one in control of this world, despite any appearances to the contrary. Pauline theodicy describes how God’s sovereignty remains intact despite threats from opposing forces. It focuses on the divine reclamation and rectification of the cosmos, something inaugurated in Christ, driven on by the Spirit and completed eventually when God becomes ‘all in all’ (1 Cor. 15.28). At heart, then, Paul’s gospel is not simply about soul-saving, involving ethical or doctrinal teaching. Such features are contained within a larger theological programme, one that concerns the warfare between God and the forces that are stacked up in hostility to God’s beneficent reign over the world. This warfare is carried out not just in the future when hostility to God is completely eradicated, but at every stage in the drama of reconciling the world in Christ to God (p. 8).

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