Editor for the Faculty: James T. Dennison, Jr.

1. BRIDGES OR LADDERS?................................................................................................................................................................................3
Gary F. Findley

2. IMAGE............................................................................................................................................................................................................22
Charles G. Dennison

3. PAUL AND THE LAW...................................................................................................................................................................................24
Scott Sanborn

4. THOMAS HOOKER ON UNION WITH CHRIST........................................................................................................................................54

5. ARIUS 'ORTHODOXOS'; ATHANASIUS 'POLITICUS': THE REHABILITATION OF ARIUS AND DENIGRATION OF ATHANA-SIUS....................................................................................................................................................................................................................55
James T. Dennison, Jr.

6. HILARY OF POITIERS ON THE SON OF GOD..........................................................................................................................................72

7. BOOK REVIEWS...........................................................................................................................................................................................73

KERUX is a publication of Northwest Theological Seminary and appears three times each year (May, September, December). Editorial offices are located at 17711 Spruce Way, Lynnwood, WA 98037-7431. Correspondence should be directed to the editor at this address. Subscription rates for one year are: $20.00 (U.S. and Canada); $25.00 (Elsewhere). All remittances should be made payable in U. S. Funds. KERUX is: abstracted in New Testament Abstracts, Cambridge, MA, Old Testament Abstracts, Washingon, DC and Religious and Theological Abstracts, Myerstown, PA; indexed in ATLA Religion Database, Chicago, IL and the Elenchus of Biblica, Rome, Italy.

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ISSN 0888-8513                                                                                                            September 2002                                                                                                           Vol. 17, No. 2


Bridges or Ladders?

Gary F. Findley*

And he had a dream, and behold a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And Behold, the Lord stood above it and said, "I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham, and the God of Isaac" (Genesis 28:12-13).

And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (John 1:51).

In his lecture entitled "Biblical Theology and Application" given at the June 1999 Kerux conference, Doug Clawson shared with us the following two observations. First, Reformed ministers are duty bound not only to expound, but also to apply the truth of God's word to the hearts and lives of their congregations. (Clawson went on to cite three portions of the Orthodox Pres-


* A slightly revised version of an address delivered at the Kerux conference, August 2001.


byterian Church's subordinate standards in making his case that sermonic application is a duty that pastors are obligated to perform.) Second, Clawson suggested that whenever people speak of sermonic application, of practical application, and of life application, the goal they have in mind is making the sermon concrete and relevant. The goal of sermonic application is making the sermon relevant.

These two observations can now be joined together. Pastors are obligated to make their sermons relevant to the lives of their congregations. Pastors shall do this; they must do this—they must preach relevant messages!

That relevant messages are the goal of every gospel minister, and that this goal is not merely conjured up or fabricated by the detractors of Biblical Theology, but is the goal set for us in the subordinate standards of our Reformed denominations is the theme of this lecture. Relevant messages are what our congregations hunger and thirst for. They are what feed the sheep; they are what nourish the flock. But how do we make our messages relevant? What must we do to apply the truth of Scripture to the life of our audience?

Attempts to answer such questions, efforts to design and produce messages that are relevant for our congregations, have produced two contrasting kinds of sermonic application. There is the sermonic bridge and there is the sermonic ladder. Bridges or ladders, ladders or bridges? Should sermonic application be a bridge or a ladder? In order to answer this question, we need to be familiar with the features and characteristics of each approach.

Application Bridge

Let us first examine the application bridge. Now what are the presuppositions that are attached to this method? In other words, why is the bridge thought to be necessary? Proponents of this method tell us that contrasting or opposing cultures are what make the bridge essential. There are contrasting cultures otherwise referred to as contrasting worlds. There are two worlds or ages that are separated by a huge cultural gap, by an enormous situational gulf. There is the ancient world of the Bible, the primitive world or age, with its superstitions, with its ancient text, its primitive text, and some would even


say its mythical text. The ancient world of the Bible, the primitive world of the Bible is contrasted with the technologically advanced and sophisticated world of modern man.

The conflicting mindsets belonging to these two contradictory worlds are (how shall I say it?) worlds apart. Or as one fellow's statement capably illustrates, "How can we believe in miracles when we can turn on a light bulb?" Thus, a bridge is needed to somehow join modern man to ancient culture, to somehow join ancient culture to modern man. It is needed to somehow make Scripture believable and its message relevant—to enable modern man to make sense of the primitive church and its gospel.

That an enormous cultural gap creates problems for contemporary church goers, that a huge situational gulf exists, is the appraisal of liberal, neo-orthodox and conservative homiletitians alike. According to Charles G. Dennison, the issue that preoccupied Bultmann was not the historical Jesus, but sermonic application. The principle he so relentlessly and consistently pursued was bridging the profound distance between the biblical world and our own. Bultmann's objective was that he built his program of demythologizing to span the alleged chasm that exists between then and now.1 Moody S. Johnson has written the following in his article "Toward a Theology of Contemporaneity: Tillich or Wesley?"

Tillich bridged the culture gap by showing man how to be both secular and Christian. He bridged the credibility gap by explaining that modern Christians could appreciate the grand insights of Scriptures without accepting the miracles as true. The communications gap was closed by a clever process of reinterpreting certain embarrassing scripture terms without a supernatural frame of reference. For instance (1) salvation refers to society as a whole. (2) The Gospel is good news of a great new social order with the dawning of a new age. (3) Reconciliation no longer has a vertical con-


1 Charles G. Dennison, "Preaching and Application: A Review." Kerux: A Journal of Biblical-Theological Preaching 4/3 (December 1989): 48.


tent but is horizontal. It now refers to justice, equality and civil rights for all. (4) One is redeemed when he is freed from the shackles of oppression in an unjust social situation. (5) The term 'witness' refers no longer to what God does for one, but to one's own act, such as an act of draft evasion, or a march on Selma, Alabama, or burning the draft card.2

One phrase in particular that caught my attention from Johnson's critique of Tillich was the statement "reconciliation no longer has a vertical content but is horizontal." It is certainly striking that bridges run horizontally; ladders go up and down.

Moreover, Dae Ryeong Kim has asserted the following in his article "Karl Barth and a Missiology of Preaching."

One of the recurring themes in Barth's model of the contextualization of preaching is "entering into the situation of the audience."

The following important step is a concern for relevance. After reading the biblical text with the worldview of the biblical writers and rereading it in the situation of the audience, this question should follow: What demands does the contemporary situation make on the preacher and his or her congregation? Together they share a historical experience; the words of the preacher must be relevant to immediate preoccupation of his hearers. A preacher is not a hermit dwelling apart. Across the historical gaps between the biblical writers and the contemporary audience, the preacher's task is "to cause the testimony presented in the text to be heard." "Purely historical material is relevant only insofar as it forms part of the testimony. In preaching, it is necessary to follow the direction of the text and relate it to our


2 Moody S. Johnson, "Toward a Theology of Contemporaneity: Tillich or Wesley?" Wesleyan Theological Journal 5 (1970): 68-75.


own times." This is why Barth emphasizes originality in preaching, as it will contribute to making biblical exposition relevant to a contemporary audience.3

An enormous cultural gap, generations of people living worlds apart, and building a bridge across these worlds, is what preoccupied the hearts and minds of Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Barth and Paul Tillich. It is the preoccupation of the majority of today's homiletitians as well. David Buttrick, Homiletics Professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, discusses "preaching as hermeneutics" in the following manner.

. . . as preachers we are speaking in the twentieth century to some sort of Christian gathering trying to figure out not merely what the words may have meant, but what they mean for us now. The question: How can words written in an earlier age to different people have anything to say to us today in a twentieth-century time and place? How can words bridge time? If we explore the story of the Stilling of the Storm, we may bump into some odd first-century notions. Without doubt, the storm was understood as demonic. Water was after all a home for Leviathan, was primal chaos, and was given to sudden turbulence when stirred by demons who were decidedly more than impish. If we accept the Bible's words as eternally valid, do we then announce in our sermon that sea-storms are produced by evil demons? To support such a statement we may have to dismiss most modern world views as mistaken; though today we may speak of "low pressure cells," we are not only wrong but unfaithful, because (1) the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, (2) the Bible assumes demonic action, therefore (3) true believers will accept biblical truth and abandon all frivolous chatter


3 Dae Ryeong Kim, "Karl Barth and the Missiology of Preaching." Missiology Resources (, p. 8). Cf. D.R. Kim and C. Van Engen, Footprints of God: A Narrative Theology of Mission (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 2000), chapter 2.


about "low pressure cells" and storms.4

It becomes obvious that David Buttrick considers the doctrine of biblical inerrancy hard to swallow. However, sermonic bridge building is no less popular among those who strongly affirm the Bible's authority. Timothy Warren, Professor of Homiletics at Dallas Theological Seminary (a seminary that remains committed to the inerrancy of Scripture), makes this statement in his article "Mind the Gap."

Mind the gap is reminiscent of John R.W. Stott's description of the gap existing between the world of the ancient text and the world of the immediate audience in his classic Between Two Worlds. Stott was correct when he reminded preachers that our task is to connect these two worlds. . . . Here is the gap. Differences in language, culture, worldview, values, contextual experiences, and the like challenge our ability as interpreters/preachers to understand the Bible and to apply its teaching with authority.5

Professor Warren's article serves us well in at least two ways. First of all, it demonstrates that any differences that exist between liberals and conservatives (who follow this model) are limited exclusively to the kinds of bridges (demythologizing bridge, a theology-of-culture bridge, a homiletic moves-and structures bridge, an extraction of timely-truths bridge) that are being built. It demonstrates that although the bridge building specifics may differ, the presuppositions held by both liberals and conservatives, the presuppositions that are thought to make bridge building necessary are precisely the same. According to this model, there are two culturally distinct worlds, miles apart. There is an old antiquated Scripture, and there are modern men.

Professor Warren's article serves us well in yet another way. It illustrates that although making the sermon relevant is regularly referred to and identified as sermonic application, what is actually occurring, what is really tran-


4 David Buttrick, Homiletic: Moves and Structures (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1987) 264.
5 Timothy Warren, "Mind the Gap." Preaching 13 (1997): 18-22 (http://, pp.1, 2).


spiring, is that the preacher is providing an interpretation of the gospel. Professor Warren refers to ministers as interpreters/preachers who must understand and apply the teaching of the gospel. With other similar statements, Warren alerts us to the fact that whenever men speak of sermonic bridge building, they are not merely speaking of the seemingly benign or harmless task of application, but they are primarily (that is "chiefly involved") in methods of interpretation. It is not application divorced from hermeneutics. It is not relevance separated from interpretation. It is what the title of chapter seventeen of David Buttrick's book suggests, "Preaching as Hermeneutics." Dae Ryeong Kim has this to say in his article "Toward a Missiological Approach to Hermeneutics."

In our discussions of hermeneutics for proclamation, one needs to identify the horizons in interpretation…. Let us note first what Thiselton has to say as a biblical theologian. While traditional hermeneutics began with the recognition that a text was conditioned by a given historical context,… The nature of the hermeneutical problem is shaped by the fact that both the text and the interpreter are conditioned by their given place in history…. But in our consideration of "hermeneutics for proclamation," there is still the third horizon, namely, the horizon of the audience. The preacher must study and interpret the biblical text. The preacher, however, also needs to understand the modern audience.6

And from David Doriani (who is presently Associate Professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary) in his book Getting the Message.

The great intellectual challenge to the application of Scripture is to bridge the gap between the cultures of the Bible and current cultures…we need to learn how to build a bridge from the past to the present…. The first support of this bridge is solid exegesis of the text. The second is knowledge of


6 Dae Ryeong Kim, "Toward a Missiological Approach of Hermeneutics" (, pp. 1-2.)


our culture. To read devotionally, we must know ourselves. To study to teach others, we must know others. We must listen, long and true—to truck drivers, engineers, insurance agents, car salesmen, and mothers of toddlers; to young and old, rich and poor, simple and wise, male and female. We should read all kinds of magazines: McCalls, Rolling Stone, Better Homes and Gardens, Fortune, Redbook, Field and Stream, and People. And yes, even take a glance at Soap Opera Digest or Guns and Ammo.7

You see it is not enough to interpret the Bible, now we become involved in interpreting the culture; perhaps worse, interpreting the Bible in light of the culture.

We find the following words in Charles G. Dennison's article "Some Thoughts on Preaching."

Whether conservative or liberal, Calvinist or Arminian, most preachers pursue their task to the text of the world. Despite even the concern of some to be exegetical, most end up expounding the world's wisdom, its problems, its fears, its psychological state, and its methods. They labor somewhat nervously to insure a point of contact with the audience. To quote one Reformed spokesman who, I'm sad to say lends support to this approach:

"'the effective preacher' must be a sensitive observer and interpreter of the 'times and season,' understanding the cultural ideas, the political realities, the influential movements, and the challenging crises of a given era."

It would seem, given this understanding of things, the preacher must be a confident, and therefore competent, historian, cultural anthropologist, sociologist, political analyst,


7 Daniel Doriani, Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and applying the Bible (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1996) 143-44.



psychologist, and in our own setting an expert surveyor of the pop scene.8

Let's be clear and certain about one thing, whenever we talk about bridge building, we are speaking of preaching as hermeneutics. That bridge building is not merely about application but instead concerns itself with interpretation is plain to see from the comments made by Dae Ryeong Kim in his article "Implications of Cross-Cultural Hermeneutics for Preaching."

During the last decades a group of theologians have asked the hermeneutical questions for preaching, namely, "how can we build a bridge between the world of the Bible and the world of today, between the original context and the contemporary context."9

The words of Kim demonstrate that he is perfectly aware, is entirely cognizant, that bridge building is a method of hermeneutics or interpretation, and not merely a method of application. That hermeneutics is at the root of sermonic application is likewise obvious from the words of Covenant Theological Seminary President, Bryan Chapell:

Preachers must translate what the text means. This is more than an exegetical task. We must make the meaning of the text concrete for contemporary people in contemporary situations. If we do not place the proclamation of gospel truth in a present world it will have no continuing meaning…the preacher must discern the biblical principles reflected in the text that were directed to the people of that time and apply the same principles to the people of this time.10


8 Charles G. Dennison, "Some Thoughts on Preaching." Kerux: A Journal of Biblical-Theological Preaching 11/3 (December 1996): 7.
9, p. 1.
10 Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994) 204-5.


And returning to the article "Implications of Cross-Cultural Preaching," Kim comments on Grant Osborne's hermeneutical work in the following manner:

Osborne's hermeneutical work is a breakthrough toward a missiological understanding of preaching. He incorporates missiological discoveries into his hermeneutical method. He also helps refresh our missiological insights, especially into the areas of communication, preaching and hermeneutics. Osborne observes that the same principles are working in 'contextualization' in the field of missiology and "application" in the field of homiletics. He, then, discovers that at the heart of 'contextualization' entails cross-cultural communication. Thus, from his hermeneutic theory, he supports the assumption of the study that preaching entails cross-cultural communication.11

I believe that because bridge building is a hermeneutical and interpretive process, and also a process that consumes itself with worldly culture—contrasted with the hermeneutic of Biblical Theology with its strong emphasis on heaven; I believe that it is because bridge builders have an earthy, that is a worldly hermeneutic, and because Biblical Theology resists this worldly hermeneutic that we face so many criticisms within some of our presbyteries. In other words, the bridge building preachers and the redemptive historical preachers interpret both the gospel and the mission of the church differently. Objections that are voiced by some of our fellow presbyters are: that we are too much pie in the sky, that from the pulpit we merely spout forth platitudes, that the rubber never meets the road, that we are abstract, vague, ambiguous, impractical, nonspecific in our sermonic applications, that the indicative crowds out the imperative, that our emphasis on Christ gets in the way of real preaching.

I want at this time to share with you some of the expressed concerns of other Reformed ministers, concerns over Biblical Theological preaching, lest someone underestimate the widespread nature of these criticisms, lest some


11 Kim, ibid., pp. 1-2.


one think that these criticisms are limited or isolated to a few remote presbyteries. Some of the most influential leaders among Reformed denominations have expressed their concerns. Dr. Jay Adams makes the following statement in his article "The Proper Use of Biblical Theology."

The general problem is that the sermons of some who have become enamored with biblical theological preaching turn out to be journeys that follow the trail of a word, metaphor, theme, or concept from Genesis to Revelation…. These biblical-theological trips are like a one-week tour of Europe: very little time can be spent at any one location. This means that little justice is given to particular passages. The big picture is constantly held before the congregation; the emphasis is on the forest, not on the trees. Such preaching tends to bypass the telos of these passages…in favor of a few, great concerns.12

Dr. Hendrik Krabbendam expresses similar concerns in his article "Hermeneutics and Preaching."

…preaching in the redemptive-historical tradition is often comparable to a ride on a Boeing 747 high above the landscape with its hot deserts, its snowpeaked mountains, its wide rivers, its dense forests, its open prairies, its craggy hills and its deep lakes. The view is panoramic, majestic, impressive, breathtaking and always comfortable.13

And Professor John M. Frame has joined in, by expressing his concerns over Biblical Theological preaching, and in particular over the issue of sermonic application in such preaching.

Some redemptive historical preachers seem to have an antipathy to the very idea of application. I get the impression


12 Jay Adams, "Proper Use of Biblical Theology in Preaching." Journal of Pastoral Practice 9/1 (1987): 47.
13 Hendrick Krabbendam, "Hermeneutics and Preaching." In The Preacher and Preaching, ed. Samuel J. Logan (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986) 235.


that some who stress redemptive history really want to avoid practical application. They want the whole sermon to focus on Christ, not on what works the believer should do.14

And we have the following from a recent article by Assistant Professor of Applied and Doctrinal Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, John Carrick.

Interestingly, a perusal of the sermons of Gerhardus Vos himself in Grace and Glory confirms this impression. There is indeed a powerful Christocentricity about Vos' sermons, and this very fact lends a richness, a beauty, and a majesty to them. However, it is also evident that practical application is minimal in these sermons. It is a striking and interesting fact that Vos wrote these sermons almost entirely in the indicative mood…. It is precisely at this point, however, that the weakness of Vos' sermons emerges. The indicative mood dominates throughout, and he scarcely ever utilizes the probing, searching interrogative, or the commanding, hortatory imperative.15

If nothing else, perhaps we can take some comfort from the fact that we are keeping good company with Vos, whom they criticize in precisely the same manner that we are being criticized. Many of our colleagues, and our ministry peers, influential men in our denominations and fellow members of our presbyteries have voiced their objections—not enough applications, not enough imperatives, not enough relevance, not enough concrete with which to build bridges.

Let us now return (for a final time) to Timothy Warren's article "Mind the Gap." In the introduction of that article, he speaks of the London subway system and the seemingly menacing gap between the subway car and the plat-


14 John M. Frame, "Ethics, Preaching, and Biblical Theology" (, 3).
15 John Carrick, "Redemptive-Historical Preaching: An Assessment." Katekomen: A Publication of Greenville Presbyterian Seminary 13/1 (Summer 2001): 11-12.


form that the passengers must negotiate, must step over while getting on and off the train. Warren goes on to explain that the seemingly menacing subway gap is not menacing at all. That in reality there is no menacing gap, there is a distance of a mere five or six inches. Warren then goes on to suggest that the seemingly menacing subway gap is reminiscent of the menacing gap that does exist between the world of the ancient Bible and the world of the contemporary audience.

Do you see where Professor Warren has gone wrong? He misses the most prominent feature of his analogy. He begins with an analogy of a menacing gap "that does not exist" and then from this analogy, attempts to build a case for a gap "he imagines" does exist. He starts with an analogy of a gap that "by his own admission" is merely imaginary, and seeks to establish a real cultural chasm and gap.

Now to this imaginary-gap analogy, Redemptive Historical preachers must shout a hearty amen! The subway gap is imaginary, and the cultural divide is likewise imaginary. The problem with Bultmann, Barth, and Tillich is that they imagined a gap that does not exist. They imagined a gap that does not exist and fell headlong into a ditch that does. The question that needs to be answered at present is whether or not Bible believing preachers are falling into Bultmann's ditch? Particularly useful in clarifying this point are comments made by Charles G. Dennison.

For [Sidney] Greidanus, the chasm is also formidably wide. His program of application sends him in search of a link between biblical times and our own, landing him in what he calls our common "struggle for the coming of God's kingdom." Regardless of the content of that phrase, certainly a severe problem in its own right, we are left wondering what the practical difference is between him and Bultmann. The matter, however, is not closed. Bultmann may be all smiles


knowingly, confident we have capitulated and are in his corner.16

Has the Bible believing church sold out? Have Bible believing preachers capitulated to Bultmann through the use of the application bridge? Is the prince of bridge builders, Rudolf Bultmann, applauding? is he all smiles? And if so, are the Reformed denominations in which we serve even aware of it?

Application Ladder

At this time, I wish to draw your attention to the second variety of sermonic application, the application ladder. The presuppositions attached to this method are precisely those we have just mentioned. The imaginary cultural gap is precisely that—it is imaginary.

One of the chief concerns of those who endorse the bridge-building model is a concern for "situational specificity." You must apply the message to the contemporary situation of your listeners. Yet the advocates of bridge building understand "situational specificity" almost entirely in cross-cultural terms. What they ignore, neglect, and fail to see is that the "situational alienation" that must be taken into account in every sermon is not cross-cultural alienation. Rather, it is the spiritual alienation that has transpired because of man's sin. Indeed, there is a gulf. What's more, it is an enormous gulf, but it is a sinful chasm that separates, it is the gulf of human depravity.

Vos's masterpiece, The Pauline Eschatology, clearly demonstrates not only what Vos's understanding was, but more importantly provides us with an understanding of what the apostle Paul believed and taught. Through his writing, Paul describes a present world that is (and that is about to perish) contrasted with a future world that is to come. Sin has taken its toll on the present world, corrupting it and alienating from God those who belong to it. Thus, it is reserved for destruction. The world that is to come is heavenly, eternal and incorruptible, that is, imperishable. Although Christians currently dwell in the


16 Charles G. Dennison. "Preaching and Application: A Review." Kerux: A Journal of Biblical-Theological Preaching 4/3 (December 1989): 49.


present world, their citizenship is located in the world that is to come. They are in this world, yet they belong to a future world. They reside here on earth as tent dwellers, with no place on which to lay their heads.

While it is the preoccupation of certain preachers to focus all of their attention, all of their time and all of their energy upon the earth, forever busy looking for a place to build a bridge, Paul discovers the ladder. Paul finds the ladder that connects heaven to earth, and God to his people. Jesus Christ is that ladder!

The bridge builders are missing the point entirely. They promote some farfetched notion of cross-cultural alienation, while ignoring the chasm no bridge can cross. It is spiritual alienation that separates and divides; it is the product of man's sin. Moreover, the reconciliation that needs to be included in any situationally specific address to the listeners, is not cross-cultural reconciliation. Rather, it is the reconciliation accomplished by the great peacemaker Jesus Christ—the "Prince of Peace," who takes away our sins, who appeases God's wrath, imputes to us his righteousness, and restores us to fellowship with our Maker.

Application (a word that we now recognize is a euphemism for interpretation) sets itself on the wrong course each and every time it tries to draw hard lines of distinction between a present and earlier audience. When proper attention is being paid to the unity of the human race, the one covenant of grace, the promises of God, the church universal, and the eschatological age in which all saints live, we then realize that all of God's earlier and present audiences are essentially one and the same. We were in Adam. Thus, legitimate application of the Scripture causes us to feel the guilt that Adam felt, to see ourselves as Adam saw himself standing outside of Christ. Legitimate application also causes us to see ourselves in Christ, as Christ saw himself—a Son bent on pleasing his heavenly Father. We see ourselves in Abraham whose covenant, journey, inheritance, and destiny are no different than our own, connected to the city whose builder and maker is God.

Therefore, legitimate sermonic application must cause people to identify with biblical history (must join them to it) and must connect them with God's visitations to earth throughout its history. Such application preserves the in-


tegrity of Scripture, so that each and every passage carries us to Christ, the ladder on which we are carried heavenward to God. Application of the text involves bringing the listeners into the text, to experience its history, to see themselves there, to see that neither their spiritual situation, nor their need for Christ is any different from the saints of old. No different than Peter, than Paul, than Mary or Martha, James, John, Philip or Andrew. The situation of everyone remains remarkably the same. Either you are in Adam, or you are in Christ.

Indeed, there are two contradictory worlds. However it is not cultures that are clashing, rather it is a clash of commitments. True "situational specificity" means that you are either for, that is committed to Jesus Christ, or you are against him.

Spiritual Relevance

That preachers must produce sermons that are relevant for our congregations is the theme of this lecture. However, attempting to make our sermons relevant through the bridge building enterprise is far too costly; it is much too expensive. Building bridges across imaginary chasms takes our attention away from what truly separates man from heaven, and from that glorious ladder (Christ) that carries us there. Focusing on imaginary gulfs and worthless bridges, distracts us from what is real and tangible. Such things distract us from what is concrete and relevant.

That we must produce sermons that are "SPIRITUALLY" relevant for our congregations is the theme of this lecture. Sermons that accurately address the believer's situation in, and the unbeliever's situation outside of Christ. Anything less than this falls short of the "situational specificity" that is required by the gospel itself. To describe the congregation's situation in anything other than spiritual terms is to fabricate a lie.

Attempts at cultural relevancy, attempts at building cross-cultural bridges, are the Devil's sleight-of-hand tricks, to get our attention pointed away from Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. These are distractions that get our attention pointed away from the city whose builder and maker is God.


Something that I want every biblical theological preacher to do is to go on the offensive within our presbyteries. I would like for us to turn the criticisms around. Let us forcefully object to preaching that leaves Christ out of center. Let us say of their preaching that it has no concrete/tangible application. Let's complain of their preaching that it is not "situationally specific," for it fails to mention the believer's situation in and the unbeliever's situation outside of Christ.

What you must understand is this. Preaching that prefers bridges to Jesus Christ has no relevance for anyone at all. For it ignores the true situation of the listener, it ignores the vertical dimension, it ignores the reality of the incarnation, it ignores the reality of heaven itself. And there is something else that it ignores, it ignores our confessional standards. In particular, it ignores question and answer number one of the Westminster Shorter Catechism which teaches us that man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him in glory, that is in heaven, forever. Note that our catechism begins with some heavy duty eschatology, as is clear from the words "end" and "forever". Note also the "Vosian" nature of our catechism in that its eschatology is taught prior to its soteriology.

It is likely that Reformed and Presbyterian bridge-builders would cite question and answer 159 of the Westminster Larger Catechism in support of their brand of sermonic application. For there, the Catechism teaches that preachers must make the whole counsel of God known to their congregations, wisely applying themselves to the necessities and capacities of the hearers. But does this portion of the Larger Catechism actually support the application bridge? Is this truly the Catechism's way of saying we need to be cross-cultural bridge builders? A very helpful article for interpreting this portion of the Larger Catechism is "Some General Observations Concerning Preaching, and Especially Application," written by (the Old Puritan) James Durham. This treatise by Durham is, in essence, a commentary on this part of the Larger Catechism. And although this article demonstrates that James Durham had a great concern for situational specificity in preaching, he voices no concerns over cross-cultural chasms or bridge building.

Ministers ought, in their doctrine, to apply themselves to all sorts of persons…to hypocrites, and openly profane; yea,


the good.17

Not unlike Vos, and in no way inconsistent with the Biblical Theological method, Durham understood application as a means of joining the spiritual situation of his audience to Jesus Christ and joining Jesus Christ to the spiritual situation of his audience. For Durham saw his listeners as belonging to one of three "spiritually specific" camps: either they were hypocrites, or openly profane, or else they were good "in the sense" that they were redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we must not let the detractors of biblical theology confuse us on any of these points. The Westminster Assembly was not preoccupied with cross-cultural bridge building. Furthermore, the Westminster Standards support us in our desire to preach Christ from all the Scripture.

So in your preaching, be less concerned with contemporary culture. Be less concerned with some unique cultural or literary genre that belonged exclusively to the so-called ancients of biblical times. Be less concerned with Sitz-im-Leben, that is, "situation in life."

Be concerned for Sitz-im-Christus, our "situation in Christ." Be concerned with spiritual relevancy over cultural relevancy. Ask yourselves these questions. Does my sermon show the believer, the profane and the hypocrite where they stand—what their spiritual positions and situations are in the light of Christ? Does my sermon draw attention to the reality of the incarnation, to the reality of the coming eschatological judgment, and to the reality of heaven itself? If your sermons accomplish these things, then they are relevant and reliable for all sorts of persons.

We are climbing Jacob's ladder,

we are climbing Jacob's ladder,

we are climbing Jacob's ladder,

soldiers of the cross.


17 James Durham, A Commentary upon the Book of the Revelation (Glasgow: William Duncan, 1739) 243.


Every round goes higher, higher,

every round goes higher higher,

every round goes higher higher,

soldiers of the cross.

Vos was the soldier who arrived before us; Paul was the soldier who arrived before Vos; Jesus was the soldier who arrived before Paul; AND JESUS was the soldier who carried the cross! Thus, Paul has written, "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus and him crucified." It is that Christ and that cross that has become our ladder to heaven.

Bridges or Ladders, Ladders or Bridges, Bridges or Jesus, Jesus or Bridges, Bultmann or Jesus, Jesus or Bultmann? Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

Shafter, California



Charles G. Dennison

By the East

his cloud from deathless power

holds hands close to the breast;

the man there peers out

on the field

planted by God.


Dust made of nothing,

breath to life awakes one

who does not forget

clinging to the arm of God—

glory circumscribed,

not him but like him,

for his pleasure.


Eyes dancing

see inside the parade

where he names

every breathing thing,

while the light to him replies—

not him,

for his pleasure needs supply.


Dusk of mind,

weighty minutes

settle in—

wrap me as with winding cloths.

What dreams

force open my side;

white pearl bone greets the sun—




formed strangely like me

and different unknown

until sleep cowers.


Eyes dancing—


seeing her from my soul

and nothing can ever be the same.

I cannot forget her

clinging to my arm,

answering me—

my glory circumscribed,

not me,

for my pleasure.


Paul and the Law1

Scott Sanborn

Much has been written on Paul and the Law—what a subject! Most of the recent work began with a book by E. P. Sanders which reevaluated Palestinian Judaism.2

Following this reevaluation, Sanders argued that Paul's negative comments on the law simply represent his opposition to the Jewish boundary markers for entering the covenant (e.g., circumcision).3 But is that all he meant when he said, "we are not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ?" Later, James Dunn's work fell on the heals of Sanders with several modifications.4

In the meantime Heikki Raisanen came out arguing that Paul was hopelessly contradictory, saying on the one hand "you are no longer under law but under grace" and then encouraging Christians to do things because the law commands them.5 Can't the apostle make up his mind?


1 The following article is dedicated to Bob and Linda Jones, who, along with their son, Chris, and daughter, Anneka, provided me with the hospitality and encouragement to begin my first year of Th.M. studies.
2 Sanders (1977); and more recently (1992)
3 Sanders (1983)
4 Dunn (1986)
5 Raisanen (1983)


Later, N.T. Wright tried to reconcile Paul's statements on the law, indicating that Paul saw the Christ as the historical climax of the old covenant.6 Still, for Wright, as for Sanders, neither the covenant nor justification are forensic. Around the same time, Frank Thielman developed a line of argument similar to Wright, while trying to develop some of Paul's eschatological implications.7

Others have entered the discussion, including Stephen Westerholm8 and finally Hendrikus Boers, who claims that Paul rejected all new covenant boundary markers.9 And so the debate continues.10

The Already/Not-Yets Compared and Contrasted

To deal with this subject, let's start with what is perhaps an obvious thesis. Paul's teaching on the law can largely be seen as the attempt to reconcile the law's own already/not-yet scheme with the already/not-yet perspective of the new covenant. Since there are similarities and differences between these two already/not-yet schemes, Paul can make positive and negative comments about the law without contradicting himself.

Of course, the entire old covenant is suffused with the already/not yet. It is not as though some elements of the old covenant were already and others were not yet. But Paul develops the already of each element as its not-yet is accomplished in Christ.

When Paul refers positively to the law's redemptive acts and ethical commands, he is comparing the already of the law with the already of the new covenant. The gospel's already is the fullness of the law's already. That is, the law's already is fulfilled by union with Christ.

Conversely, when Paul contrasts the law to the gospel he is contrasting


6 Wright (1991)
7 Thielman (1994); see also "Law" in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (1993).
8 Westerholm (1988)
9 Boers (1994)
10For what Dunn once considered the best summary of this debate, see Thielman (1994).


the law's not-yet with the already of Christ's work.

Yes, you say, that's somewhat obvious. However, the question arises, what is the nature of the already which both the old and the new covenants have in common? And what exactly is new about the new covenant? These questions have troubled biblical scholars for almost two thousand years, and our investigation will necessarily be incomplete.

In summary, we can say that Paul's positive and negative comments on the law express the following: Paul compares and contrasts the progressive semi-eschatological triumph of God in the redemption of his people and the removal of the curse from the inheritance of the land in the old covenant to the accomplished eschatological redemptive triumph of God in Christ's incarnation, life, death, and resurrection into the justified inheritance above and the semi-eschatological union of the Church with Christ in his heavenly life unto the final consummation.

In other words, Paul's negative statements about the law revolve around the contrast between Israel's not-yet and the present Church's already. Paul taught that Christians were no longer under the Mosaic Covenant in the sense that its not-yet aspect related to the removal of the curse from the inheritance. This has been completely accomplished by Christ through his curse-bearing death and justifying resurrection by which he has brought his people a curseless and positively righteous inheritance in heaven. This semi-eschatological justification is necessary for the new covenant and allows it to further develop the already of the Mosaic Covenant. That is, semi-eschatological justification is necessary for the fuller writing of the law on the hearts of God's people. In this way, the standard of the new arena of the Spirit in Christ is the further development of the law given at Mt. Sinai. Thus, Paul's positive use of the law.

The Law of Love Depends on Transcendent Eschatology

In the body of this article we will begin by looking at Galatians 5:14 and try to interpret it in its larger context. From here we reflect on other texts in


Galatians, finally returning to Galatians 5. This will be followed by a short analysis of the positive role of the law in Romans, concluding with Romans 13:8-10.

In Galatians 5:14, Paul states: "For all the law is fulfilled in this one word, in the word 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (see also Romans 13:8-10.)

Since it is possible to interpret the word "fulfilled" in several ways (simply as "to carry out" something or to fulfill as in to bring prophecy to historical and eschatological completion) our argument will not rest on a simple word study of "fulfill." (However, after a careful examination of what Paul means when he thinks of people carrying out anything, it is hard to rid it of eschatological overtones.) Instead, we will look at the context of Gal. 5:14.

Galatians 5 comes after an extended argument in chapters 3 and 4 which is preceded by a narration in chapter 2. Therefore, understanding these chapters will shed light on our passage. For the sake of brevity (that is, to see more quickly the connection between our text and the preceding chapters) we will work backward from chapter 5 to 4 to 3 and finally to chapter 2.

In chapter 5 the theme of love begins in verse 6 and continues in verses 13, 14, and 22. In a moment we will see how verse 6 is connected to verse 14, but first let us look at verse 6 with its parallels.

Verse 6 states: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love."

Galatians 6:15: "For neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."

And somewhat more loosely connected is Galatians 3:26: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, but you are all one in Christ Jesus."

In the course of this article we will refer back to these three texts at various points.

Now let us briefly look at the flow of the argument from Galatians 5, verses 6 to 14. Our purpose here will be to establish that there is in fact an


argument from one to the other, and that therefore verse 6's eschatological orientation is important for verse 14.

According to verse 6 to believe that circumcision avails anything (for eschatological justification11) is at odds with faith working through love. Some in the Galatian church have been persuaded of circumcision's importance and have turned away from faith and love, leavening the body (vv. 7-9). These who are troubling the church (vv. 10 and 12) are at odds with the cross (v. 11) and should bear their judgment. For the Galatian church should live in freedom, a freedom from the law which implies fulfilling the law in love (vv. 13 and 14).

These connections confirm that Paul relates the fulfillment of the law in verse 14 to verse 6 with its emphasis on the transition from the period of the law to the period of semi-eschatological grace (indicated by Paul's use of "in Christ Jesus"). And as Galatians 3:26 informs 5:6, we will soon see that it informs 5:14.

However, let us first look at some passages in chapter 4. This will further strengthen the connection to chapter 3 and indicate the nature of Paul's eschatological conception.

Paul's eschatology is not only linear but also vertical. This is indicated in chapter 4 by his comparison of the Jerusalem above (v. 26) with the Spirit (v. 29) and the connection between the present Jerusalem (v. 25) with the flesh (v. 29). Paul's quotation of Isaiah 54:1 indicates that he interpreted the Jerusalem above that gives birth according to the Spirit as the eschatological fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of the future Jerusalem. Thus, the Spirit gives birth to semi-eschatological children, indicating that Paul's conception of the Spirit in Galatians is eschatological. Therefore, Paul's semi-eschatological perspective must be interpreted in a vertical as well as a horizontal fashion.

More precisely, Paul saw the Jerusalem above that has come in Christ as


11Occasionally this article refers to semi-eschatological justification to leave open the possibility that while the Church has now received a perfectly declared righteousness in relation to the inheritance above, Paul may refer to the public manifestation of this justification as final eschatological justification. Eschatological justification is used throughout this article as a shorthand for semi-eschatological justification. No distinction is implied between the two.


the historical (i.e., horizontal) fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. However, when this horizontal fulfillment took place it was not simply horizontal. The horizontal fulfillment took place vertically. The prophesied Jerusalem was not fulfilled in the present Jerusalem below but in a new Jerusalem above. And this theme of Jerusalem can not be an isolated case, for it is connected to Paul's broader eschatological associations. This fulfillment of one eschatological theme in a vertical fashion indicates that, for Paul, the broader eschatological world to which it is connected finds a vertical fulfillment. These implications will be confirmed by their fruitfulness in understanding Paul's eschatology and his use of the law.

Here many modern interpreters of Paul and his view of the law have gone astray. Ernst Kasemann interpreted the kingdom of God in primarily a horizontal fashion. That is, the kingdom of God is realized immanently in the present world and in social/political transformation. This view was adopted by Jurgen Moltmann in his Theology of Hope. And some New Testament scholars have interpreted Paul using the grid of Kasemann's eschatology. Since this eschatology is primarily linear it does not provide a way of easily understanding the harmony of Paul's positive and negative references to the law. This can only be done by interpreting Paul in light of his own eschatology, which is both horizontal and vertical.

Thus, we will see that the vertical movement of the inheritance from the inheritance which is partially below to that which is above in Christ provides a framework for understanding Paul's view of the law in Galatians 3 and finally in Galatians 5.

The connection to Galatians 5 can already be glimpsed by the Spirit and flesh contrast that is found in 4:29 and repeated in Galatians 5 verses 16- 25. The Spirit is the objective eschatological environment of those in Christ. However, their life is now semi-eschatological because they also live in the environment of this world which is passing away. For Paul this represents a progress beyond the old Jerusalem where the Spirit's presence was partially associated with an earthly city. (Admittedly, confirmation for the claim that the Spirit was partially present in the old Jerusalem prior to the work of Christ awaits our analysis of Gal. 3:14.)


Therefore, to distinguish the semi-eschatological situation of the old covenant from that of the new covenant, we will call it partially mixed eschatology. It is only partially mixed because 1) the Spirit of God remained transcendent and only voluntarily and temporarily abode in the land of Israel (i.e., the Spirit's presence was not absolutized in the land), and 2) though the righteous in Israel experienced the Spirit's presence in the land in the blessings and curses of the old covenant, they also experienced the transcendent presence of the Spirit even when they lost the blessings of Canaan. Yet, this mixed situation (found among other places in Romans 7:5, 7-28) was transcended by the semi-eschatological justification and sanctification of the new creation in Christ (Romans 8:1ff.), bringing about the clearer semi-eschatological distinction found in the Spirit/flesh contrast of Galatians 5.

Semi-Eschatological Sonship in Christ

The theme of sonship is crucial to Paul's argument of semi-eschatological fulfillment in 4:26-29, appearing throughout chapter 4 and bringing us to the end of chapter 3. There, in verse 26 we read, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

The context indicates that Paul is speaking here of an historical transition from the coming of the Law (v. 17) to the coming of faith (v. 23). Under the Law there was a distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female. Now we might ask, "What distinction was somewhat common to them all?"

Verse 18 along with Paul's earlier quotes from the law (vv. 10, 12, and 13) seem to tip us off. In verse 18 Paul contrasts inheritance given by law to that given by promise. And distinctions related to inheritance of the land were common to the three pairs of verse 28. Under the law there were distinctions between Jew and Greek as to inheritance in the land. The Jew possessed the inheritance, the Greek did not. And even within the land there was a distinction between the slave and the free. The free man had more of an inheritance in the land than the slave. And under most circumstances the man, rather than


the woman, received the inheritance. (A woman was often thought to possess the inheritance either through her father or husband.)

The fact that the theme of inheritance is critically important here is underlined by the theme of sonship which surrounds verse 28. It is explicit in verse 26 and implicit in verse 29. Verse 29 specifically speaks of being heirs. The son was the heir, and he was an heir of the inheritance. Thus, now that all Christians have sonship in the Son of God, they are all equally heirs of the inheritance in Christ.

Paul indicates that this inheritance is the eschatological inheritance by saying that they are "Abraham's" seed (because they are united to Christ, the seed) and heirs according to the "promise." This picks up the transition from the inheritance under the law to the eschatological inheritance (the promised Spirit, v. 14). This transition was effected when Christ bore the curse that kept God's people from the fullness of the inheritance (v. 13).

Therefore, Paul's statement "you are all one in Christ Jesus" is a relative contrast to the situation under the law in which some possessed more of the inheritance than others. This entails some significant implications for Paul's understanding of semi-eschatological union with Christ and the Church's semi-eschatological union with one another. That is, Paul believed that these two relationships of union represented a relative contrast to the law. The members of the Church participate in a greater union with one another than did the righteous in Israel.

They also participate in a greater union with God, and this is the basis for their greater union with one another. This is further substantiated by the way Paul associates being "in Christ" with receiving the "Spirit." And in each case Paul is referring to the eschatological gift of the Spirit which is given to the Church after the completion of Christ's redemptive work (Gal. 3:13, 14; 4:5,6). Through this greater participation in the Spirit, the new covenant Church possesses a greater union with God himself, crying out "Abba, Father."

Forensic semi-eschatological adoption brings with it a greater participation in the Spirit, a vital birth from the Jerusalem above. And these together compose the semi-eschatological sonship which brings the Church beyond the law.


Paul's Metaphysics and Eschatology

Paul's connection of the Spirit with the eschatological Jerusalem above (4:26-29) tells us something about his metaphysical assumptions. The Church participates in a greater union with God at the same time that she participates in greater eschatological fullness. She participates in this greater eschatological fullness because she participates in a greater union with God in the Spirit of Christ. This connection between the Spirit and eschatology is so intimate that Paul can claim that when the Gentiles receive the eschatological inheritance promised to Abraham they are receiving the promised Spirit (3:14).

Therefore, Paul distinguishes the realm of the flesh in which God is omnipresent from the realm of the Spirit. In this way, he brings the special presence of the old covenant to a greater fullness, a fullness that allows him to more clearly distinguish it from the realm of the flesh.

The metaphysical nature of Paul's transcendent (vertical) eschatology has been ignored by many biblical scholars. This is partially because modern biblical scholarship in the last two hundred years has largely been influenced by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Following Hume's radical empiricism, leading to his skepticism of metaphysical causation, Kant denied the possibility of any descriptive metaphysics. As a result, most biblical scholars under Kant's influence have only spoken of some non-descriptive ontology at best. Take for instance Bultmann's adoption of Heidegger's ontology, an ontology that can't be described in the same way that traditional metaphysics is articulated. These scholars have anachronistically imported their post-Kantian views of metaphysics back into the Apostle Paul. Thus, they have interpreted his eschatology non-metaphysically. The result is a purely horizontal eschatology as we have noted in Ernst Kasemann and Jurgen Moltmann.

However, these purely horizontal and non-metaphysical eschatological approaches to Paul fall short of reconciling his positive and negative statements about the law.

What is needed is a reevaluation of Paul's eschatology in his own biblical and historical context. This cannot be done in detail here, but we have begun to see in Galatians its vertical and metaphysical nature.


Eschatological Justification

For Paul, eschatological justification is the judicial basis for this greater eschatological/metaphysical union with God. Picking up the theme of inheritance in verse 18, Paul fleshes out eschatological justification in terms of the new eschatological inheritance above. The eschatological nature of justification also indicates that Luther was correct in recognizing the forensic character of justification12 since eschatology is inseparable from the forensic sphere.

In Galatians 3:10-12 Paul reflects on the blessings and curses of the law. In verse 10 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 27:26, which concludes a list of the law's curses.13 These curses fit with an enumeration of blessings and curses that will come upon Israel in relationship to her inheritance in the land (Deut. 28). To the degree that Israel was obedient to the covenant, she would be blessed in the inheritance and to the degree that she was disobedient, she would be cursed.14 In other words, to the same degree that she was not blessed, she would be cursed (in relationship to the inheritance).

Paul picks up this disobedience and curse and develops its eschatological implications. If law keeping is not eschatologically perfect, it deserves eschatological curse in relation to the eternal inheritance of God (3:10). That is, any violation of the law deserves eternal condemnation.15 This is the main reason why Israel's obedience to the law could not eliminate the curse from the inheritance and bring in the eschatologically righteous inheritance.

Paul reflects on this imperfection of Israel's obedience and their blessings in the land (verse 12, quoting Lev. 18:5). Leviticus 18:5 is the blessing section of the covenantal structure of Leviticus 18:1-5, indicating that verse 5 is not simply a tautology (as would be the case if it meant "if a person does them, he


12Contra Sanders (1983) and Wright (1991)
13For Sanders's contrary claim that Paul simply chose quotations because they contained the terms he was using in his argument, see for example Sanders (1983), 21.
14For a discussion of the contrary claim that the curse of Deut. 27: 26 only applied to individuals, see Stanley (1990), 484.
15At the same time, rejecting the gospel of Christ (which is the fulfillment of the law) and teaching another also brings eschatological curse (Gal. 1:8-9).


shall practice them"). Rather "live by them" means "have life in them."

Further, by contrasting Leviticus 18:5 with 18:24-30 we see that the life promised is life in the land. In Lev. 18:25, 27, and 28 the land becomes unclean as a result of disobedience and therefore vomits out its unclean inhabitants. According to Leviticus's holy/common, clean/unclean distinctions (Lev. 10:10) this implies that the land is "holy."16 This holiness is dependent on the already of God's special presence in the land through the sanctuary (Lev. 23:2-5). As a result, disobedience defiles the land, bringing curse.

By contrast, obedience must bring the blessing of life because it plays a part in sanctifying the holy land. (Offering sacrifices and cutting off lawbreakers also plays a part in this.) This process of sanctifying the inheritance is based on the already of God's special presence (through the gracious covenant at Mt. Sinai), and implies that the further sanctification of the inheritance extends God's presence in the land either extensively or intensively. For every new blessing in the land is a further communication of God's presence to his people. Therefore, obedience to the law (the works of the law), including obedience to the sacrificial and judicial law, brought the further blessing of God's Spirit to the inheritance.

When Christ bore the curse of the law eschatologically, he completely eliminated the curse from the inheritance and brought the fullness of the Spirit (Gal. 3:13 and 14). So now the inheritance of God's people can not include any land in this present cursed age but must simply be the Spirit himself (v. 14), the heavenly Jerusalem. And since this inheritance is transcendent (and not localized on earth), it can be offered equally to the Gentiles throughout the world.

Therefore, the presence of the Spirit in the land is finally realized in the fullness of the Spirit as the inheritance in Christ. The Spirit's presence given by both covenants provides a synthetic relationship between them. And since this synthetic relationship is one of development, we are justified in calling it an organic relationship to distinguish it from Hegel's notion of development through contradiction. (More on this soon.) For the moment, this organic rela-


16Wenham (1979)


tionship allows us to speak of the Spirit's presence in the land as a less full manifestation of the eschatological Spirit. That is, the Spirit's presence in the land represented partially mixed eschatology.

This is substantiated by Paul's transition from verse 13 to 14 (Gal. 3). For when the curse of the law which separated God's people from the full blessing of the inheritance (vv. 10, 11, and 12) was removed (v. 13), they were granted access to the eschatological inheritance (the promise of the Spirit, v. 14). This only makes sense if the eschatological Spirit was present to some degree in the land. For only then would the curse partially separating them from the land partially separate them from the Spirit. And only then would a redemption which redeemed them in relation to the inheritance redeem them in relation to the Spirit (bringing in the eschatological inheritance of the Spirit.) In other words, only if the land was the inheritance because the Spirit was present there would the final redemption bring the saints into semi-eschatological union with the Spirit, the source of the land's inheritance status, allowing the land to be transcended.

The organic connection between the inheritance in the land and the inheritance above that is established by the presence of the Spirit helps us to appreciate how Paul could eschatologize the curse of the law. That is, how he could take the relative curse in the land for relative disobedience and also see in it a promise of eternal condemnation for any violation of the law. For it is the Spirit's presence in the land which is the foundation for the curse. Therefore, when the fullness of the Spirit comes this requires eternal curse for any violation of the law. And this final eschatological situation is what ultimately defines everyone's relationship to their Creator.

In addition, Paul's quotes in Galatians 3:10 and 12 are connected by the verb "to do." The one who does not do the law is cursed and the one who does the law is blessed with life.17 This reflects the fact that in the old covenant the blessing for obedience is the flip side of the curse for disobedience. And just


17For Sanders's contrary view that Paul's quotation of Lev. 18: 5 does not indicate he believed obedience to the law promised life, see Sanders (1983), 67; see also p. 53 n. 23, p. 54 n. 30. While Sanders is right in noting that the most immediate purpose of this quote was to contrast faith to the doing of the law, this very contrast is dependent on the assumption that obedience to the law brings life.


as Paul eschatologized the curse, it is reasonable to believe that Paul's statements in Galatians 5:3 and 4 (interpreted in the light of eschatological justification) suggest that he also developed the blessings of the law eschatologically.18 Perfect obedience to the law would bring to the law keeper eschatological justification and entrance into the eternal blessedness of the eschatological inheritance above.

In Galatians 5:3 and 4, Paul suggests that those who reject Christ are under law (5:1 and 18) and are obligated to keep the whole law perfectly if they are to be justified. On the other hand, the fact that Christ was born under law (Gal. 4:4) suggests that Christ himself has fulfilled this requirement of perfect obedience as the means to earn resurrection life in the inheritance above, both for himself and for believers. (This underscores the positive righteousness of Christ in eschatological justification.)

The language of life in Christ (Gal. 2:19 and 20) implies the same thing. Here Paul contrasts living to God in Christ with living to the law (the opposite of "died to the law," v. 19). His quotation of Lev. 18:5 shortly afterward is no mistake, for it helps him explain living to the law. Therefore, eschatological justification/ life in Christ is set in opposition to life by means of obedience to the law.19 And since the blessing of life in the land is dependent on the Spirit's presence, it is organically connected to life in Christ. And if this life is organically related, so is the obedience which brings it, implying that Christ's perfect obedience was at work in eschatological justification.

We have now noted how Paul picks up the promises of relative blessing for relative obedience and relative curse for relative disobedience in the land and relates them organically to the final absolute eschatological situation, that is perfect obedience brings eternal justification and any transgression eternal curse. We can now observe that the blessings and curses of the law are blessings and curses of the old covenant (which Paul contrasts to the new in Gal.


18For the debate over whether Paul thought perfect obedience to the law was possible, see Sanders (1983), 28; Schreiner (1984); and Schreiner (1985).
19In fact, the argument in Galatians 3: 6-13 is implicitly leading Paul to resurrection life. For the point that the blessing of the Spirit is "in Christ Jesus" (v. 14) implies Christ's resurrection from the curse of death (v. 13).


4:24-26). It is reasonable to conclude that Paul therefore recognized an organic connection between the old and new covenant as well as between the old and new Jerusalem. This organic development would also be dependent on the presence of the Spirit administered in each covenant and associated with each city.

It also follows that the indicate/imperative structure of both covenants should also be organically related, suggesting that Paul compared and contrasted the already/not-yet scheme of the old covenant with the already/not-yet scheme of the new covenant.

Eschatological justification in Christ means that believers in Christ are no longer cursed in relation to anything that is considered their inheritance in God. In keeping with organic development, we can say that this has brought a greater freedom for the children of God. For while righteous Israel was freed from bondage to this world (in which the Gentiles found their entire lives), she was not as fully freed as the new covenant sons of God would later be. For the law still called her to find confirmation for her obedience in the blessings of this world. And to that degree she was still in bondage to the world. The fact that the Psalmists recognize that the wicked were often blessed instead of the righteous is in keeping with the organic development Paul sees flowering in Christ. However, by the standards of Deuteronomy, righteous Israel was in some sense cursed in relation to her inheritance in the land even while she was eternally justified in her ultimate eschatological relationship with God (Romans 4:7 and 8). Now that eschatological justification has come in Christ, the saints are justified in relation to everything that is their inheritance in him. They, therefore, have a greater freedom, greater peace, and greater joy in the midst of suffering in Christ Jesus.

Absolute or Relative Contrast

It is often asked whether Paul's contrast between the old covenant (law) and the new covenant (gospel) is absolute or relative. Our discovery of the organic relationship between the covenants seems to indicate both. That is, the contrast is both relative and absolute in the same words (that is, Paul's


words) but not in the same relation. As a result, both can exist simultaneously in the same words without being a contradiction.

Organic unfolding goes from relative blessing for relative obedience in the land to absolutely curseless and righteous blessing (in the inheritance above) for absolutely perfect obedience. This organic development indicates a movement from the relative to the absolute. Since this entire organic continuum is indicated by Paul when he contrasts the law to the gospel, we are justified in saying that his contrast between the old and new covenants is both absolute and relative in the same words but not in the exact same relation.

Thus, many of the texts in which Paul speaks of what Christ has done for us have both an absolute meaning when placed against the background of life under complete wrath and the law's absolute legal demand and a relative meaning when placed against the background of the life of righteous Israel under the law.

For the same reason, numerous texts in Paul which speak about the believer's transfer from this evil age into union with Christ speak of ordo salutis and historia salutis in the same words but not in the exact same relation (though these relations are intimately united).

The simultaneous existence of the absolute contrast with the relative contrast may also help explain how Paul can move so easily from what seems to be simply a relative historical contrast with what seems to be an absolute contrast with the pagan world (Gal. 4:1-7 and 8-11).

The fact that interpreters in the history of exegesis have recognized both a relative contrast and/or an absolute contrast tends to lend support for this thesis. On the other hand, the fact that the denial of either has lead to other problems of interpretation also seems to lend it support. For instance, some who have denied the absolute contrast between the law and the gospel have also denied the forensic declarative nature of justification. For they turn the gospel into a new law through which believers are justified.

On the other hand, those who deny the relative contrast often fall into two difficulties. They often claim that Paul denied the gracious nature of the old covenant, making it simply a covenant of works. This is at odds with the old


covenant itself. For there the covenantal unity of God with his people is the basis of their possession of the law (Exodus 20:2). And it is hard to imagine that the Apostle of Romans 1-3 could possibly imagine that the old covenant bound God to his people without being a covenant of grace. This view is also at odds with sentiments found in intertestamental Judaism. Thus, the relative contrast frees Paul from misinterpreting the Old Testament. Second, the denial of the relative contrast implicitly denies the organic connection of the old law and new standard of the Spirit in Christ. Thus, some who deny the relative contrast interpret Paul to mean that Christians are no longer related to the law as a rule of life. But this is at odds with Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:8-10.

Because of its importance, let's look a little more carefully at the distinction between the absolute and relative contrasts. One perspective from which to view this distinction is that of human response. In the words "the law is not of faith" (Gal. 3:12), was Paul denying that righteous Israel under the law laid hold of the law by faith? In answering this, we can note that before writing Galatians Paul wrote that the Psalmist had the same spirit of faith as he (2 Cor. 4:13). Since "faith" (v. 13) is connected to "knowing" that God will raise us from the dead in Christ (v. 14), it has an eschatological orientation. By saying we have the same spirit of faith as the Psalmist, he implies that the Psalmist's faith was also eschatologically oriented and ultimately focused on the resurrection life in Christ. However, the Psalmist's eschatological deliverance was mediated through the theocracy and the blessing of life in the land. This is indicated through the Psalm's continual reference to his deliverance (Psalm 116:1-9). While it could be argued that God's mercy to the Psalmist was greater than that originally administered under the law, it is clear that God's mercy was at least partially administered through his earthly deliverance that is associated with the law and theocracy. Thus, this mercy should in some way be connected with the law itself. Therefore, the Psalmist's faith is in some sense faith in the redemptive promises of the law. This further indicates that Paul looked upon the old covenant as a covenant of grace, even though Israel's disobedience to the conditional promises of this gracious covenant took on the character of bringing curse on the inheritance—thereby setting up Paul's contrast between Israel's disobedience and the work of Christ.


Further, just as Paul saw an organic relationship between the partially mixed inheritance in the land and the eschatological inheritance above, he also saw an organic relationship between the faith that lays hold of their respective blessings. For both are ultimately eschatological. Thus, it would be wrong to use Paul's contrast between the law and gospel in Galatians 3:12 (the law is not of faith) to claim that the old covenant was simply a covenant of works. And as there is a continuity and discontinuity between the deliverance of the Psalmist and the deliverance of Paul, it is reasonable to say that there is a relative contrast between their faith. However, in 2 Cor. 4:13 Paul preferred to focus on the similarity.

Therefore, the contrast in Gal. 3:12 (the law is not of faith) is relative when Paul is comparing the way in which righteous Israel laid hold of the law to the fuller faith that has come in Christ. They did not lay hold of the law with the same degree of faith that the Church now lays hold of the gospel. However, their faith did lay hold of the final resurrection/redemption in Christ through the old covenant and its organic connection to the new.

On the other hand, there were those in the old covenant period who did not lay hold of the law by faith at all, but lived as if righteousness ultimately comes by works alone. These were under the law in its absolute contrast to the gospel.20 (They only participated in the relative blessings and curses of the law by way of their external covenant identity with believing Israel.)

This later class of people is similar to those in the new covenant age who keep the whole law (including circumcision) because they believe it is necessary to salvation. While righteous Israel obeyed the whole law as necessary, the implication is that they would have ceased to do so once Christ (as the fulfillment of the law) had been crucified and risen, bringing in the semi-eschatological age. For the focus of their faith would have arrived in its fullness in the eschatological inheritance above. However, those who now keep the whole law out of necessary compulsion after the crucifixion (Gal. 3:1) show that their focus is simply on receiving an earthly inheritance. As a result


20 Of course, righteous Israel was also under the law in its absolute contrast in order that she might be redeemed. Thus, this absolute contrast formed the basis of her gracious covenantal life with its relative contrast to the gospel era as a whole.


they do not lay hold of the law and its ultimate transcendent inheritance by any degree of faith (despite their confession to the contrary). Instead, they lay hold of it as if it were by works alone. As a result the absolute contrast speaks to them. In this way Paul's polemic against Judaizers is related to the absolute contrast.

Paul, by indicating that Christ bore the curse of the law, also indicates that Christ was under the law in this absolute sense. In Romans this allowed Paul to base the redemptive work of Christ on his strict obedience (5:18 and 19), rather than on prior redemptive grace (which would have ultimately led to a circular argument). At the same time (following the pattern of Adam before the fall), anyone who keeps the whole law perfectly deserves relative blessings in this life apart from redemptive grace. In this way, Christ was under the relative blessing/cursing scheme of the law (apart from grace). However, instead of receiving the blessings, he finally received the curses because he bore their absolute eschatological fullness. Being under the law in these ways allowed Christ to identify with both Jews and Gentiles and redeem them from the curse of the law through strict obedience (and justice).

Finally, because the relative contrast is organically related to the absolute contrast, it can foreshadow the absolute contrast. This allows Paul to compare and contrast Israel's relative obedience (and disobedience) to the law with Christ's absolute obedience to the law. Without both the relative and absolute contrasts and their organic relation, it wouldn't seem possible for Paul to relate Israel's history in the land to Christ.

This also holds true for the period between Sinai and Canaan. This is because the tabernacle presence of God inflicted curses upon lawbreakers, keeping them from entering the land with its partially mixed eschatological blessings. Therefore, while this period of waiting is distinguished from entrance into the blessed land, it is still related to it as a period under the law (e.g., Rom. 7:9). As a result, without the relative contrast, how could Paul relate Christ and his people to Israel's history in the wilderness after Sinai (e.g., 1 Cor. 10:3-11)? But this is what he does when he implicitly relates the


"spiritual" drink of the rock (Christ) to the glory cloud (as Exodus 17:6 does).21 So, he enfolds Christ in the Spirit (as the resurrected Christ, 1 Cor. 15:44-47) and thus in the cloud. And because of this connection the rock "followed" them (1 Cor. 10: 4). This also suggests that Paul associated the rock with Christ both times God brought water from the rock, and one of these was after Sinai (Num. 20:8-11). In this way, Paul's typology of the law is dependent on Christ's partial eschatological presence in the law. And this partial eschatological presence is the basis of the partially mixed eschatology of the land as the Spirit's presence makes it a habitation of God (Gal. 3: 13-14; Exodus 15: 17; see also Deut. 8: 15-18 which illustrates the gracious character of the blessings of the land by relating them to the blessings of the wilderness).

The eschatological basis for Paul's typology of the law is further understood when we compare the connection of the Spirit's presence in the two eschatological schemes (as administered by the two covenants) with Paul's indication that the Psalmist was laying hold of Christ's resurrection life by faith through his deliverance from death in the land. Thus, the old covenant must have revealed the future resurrection life of Christ to him, though dimly. Otherwise, how could he lay hold of it by faith? But how did the old covenant do this? The answer seems to be: through the partially mixed eschatology administered in the land.

The ontological basis for this is again seen in the connection between the life of Christ and the blessing of the land as it is stated in the following words: since the basis of the eschatological presence of the Spirit in the new covenant is the work of Christ, it is understandable that by laying hold of the future resurrection life of Christ (as that life was mediated through the old covenant) the Psalmist laid hold of the blessing of the Spirit in the land, which blessing brought life in the land. The Psalmist had the end from the beginning as it was mediated to him through the law. And it is only because Israel as a whole had the end from the beginning (after the fall) that her obedience and blessedness could serve as a type of the work of Christ and his kingdom.


21Paul's claim that the Spirit was present with Israel in the exodus and wilderness is in keeping with Isaiah 63:11 and Neh. 9:20 (pointed out to the author by the editor).


Paul's typology is ultimately founded on his eschatology. That is, in the order of being, eschatology precedes typology. Those who claim that Paul's statements about the relationship between the old and new covenants should only be interpreted as absolute contrasts undermine the metaphysical basis for the typological function of the old covenant. For Paul's typology of the law is dependent on the partially mixed eschatology of the law—an eschatology which can never bring Israel even imperfect blessings for her imperfect sinful obedience unless they are administered by a gracious covenant. And without these blessings, the law can not point foreward to the kingdom to come in Christ.

No Distinction, the Organic Development of the Law

Now we return to Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, but you are all one in Christ Jesus." For Paul the Gentile world is ultimately characterized by hatred and distinguishing oneself from others by one's earthly position. While Israel was unified by the old covenant and its administration of God's redemptive presence, we have seen that Paul believed there was greater unity between new covenant believers in the inheritance above in Christ.

Our discussion of eschatological justification has now allowed us to see the judicial basis for this greater union. As an example, under the law the free man participated in more of the blessing of the inheritance than the slave. And to the degree that one did not participate in the blessing of the inheritance s/he was cursed in relation to the inheritance. Thus, the slave was generally more cursed in relation to the inheritance than the free man. Thus, the distinction between the two.

However, with the arrival of semi-eschatological justification in Christ, neither the slave nor the free man is cursed in relation to anything that is their inheritance in God. They are equally blessed and equally possessors of the eschatological inheritance above in Christ. That is, they both equally possess the fullness of the Spirit, semi-eschatologically.


What does this have to do with the organic development of the law? Sinful boasting is founded on worldly distinctions and is set over against love. While Israel's redemption and union freed her from boasting to some degree and called her to love, the difference in inheritance rights still allowed some degree of boasting. Now that eschatological justification has arrived in Christ, boasting is excluded because all in Christ equally possess the inheritance of the Spirit. Thus, they are called to a greater degree of love than old covenant Israel.

This point is strengthened by Galatians 6:12-16. As we noted earlier, Galatians 6:14 has some similarities to 3:28. In 6:14 the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision is contrasted to the eschatological new creation. In keeping with Paul's overall argument, circumcision is associated with receiving an earthly inheritance (thus, the contrast to the heavenly new creation). As a result, circumcision allows one to boast in the flesh (vv. 12 and 13), i.e., to boast in the world (v. 14) and its possession.

To the degree that Israel possessed the land as her inheritance (through circumcision), to that degree she possessed the world. And to that degree Israelites could still boast in the flesh. What is more, the circumcised could boast over against the uncircumcised because the land they possessed was the inheritance of God and their blessedness in it was related to their performing the works of the law. However, now that Christ has died (Gal. 2:19; 3:1, 13; 6:14) Paul has been crucified to the older inheritance and made a participant in the new creation (6:15). As a result he can only boast in the cross which has effected this transition, living as one dead to the world by suffering persecution in union with his crucified savior (6:14 and 12).

The older inheritance with its promise of earthly blessing did not call for this degree of cross-bearing. However, the new and greater semi-eschatological life of believers in Christ allows them to possess all the blessings of the inheritance above (because of eschatological justification) in the midst of suffering loss in this world. In this way, they suffer in greater union with their savior.

This greater cross-bearing allows for greater love as believers more fully "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).


Thus, eschatological justification abolishes distinctions of inheritance and allows the Church to suffer in greater conformity with Christ, both of which call the Church to greater love.

No matter how you interpret Gal. 5:14 (either as love keeping the law, as love fulfilling the law like the works of Christ fulfill prophecy, or as love heading up all the old covenant commandments—like Romans 13:9), it indicates that with the organic development of love comes the organic development of all the other old covenant imperatives (along with their indicatives).

Thus, as a result of eschatological justification the law is organically developed, even in its capacity as a rule of life.

In other words, the greater metaphysical/eschatological relation believers have with God as a result of eschatological justification (Gal. 3:28) brings them into closer covenantal union with God's divine attributes; and this gives them greater responsibility.

This will become important in Romans where the law written on the heart is dependent on eschatological justification. For example, the following words are dependent on eschatological justification (Rom. 3:28) and can be understood in both a relative and absolute sense: "Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what law? That of works? No, but by the law of faith" (Rom. 3:27).

This is also reflected in Galatians 2:11-21. There Paul refutes Peter's neglect of new covenant table fellowship by bringing up eschatological justification (Gal. 2:15 and 16). Peter has separated himself from table fellowship with the uncircumcised in accordance with the holiness code of the old covenant. This further supports the fact that Paul's teaching of justification is set in relative contrast to the law, for if Paul were simply talking about a justification that is always in every time exactly the same in every respect, what good would it do to bring it up in this context? Only if his teaching of justification brings believers beyond the administration of the old covenant can he use it to refute Peter's attempt to return to the holiness code of the old covenant.

However, as in Galatians 3, justification in Christ is eschatological, and by eliminating the curse of the law which distinguished the circumcised from


the uncircumcised, it refutes Peter's attempt to separate himself from Gentiles in table fellowship. Eschatological justification implies that the Gentiles are no longer unclean in Christ. Once again, this greater unity calls Christians to greater love.

In accordance with this greater calling, Paul says that Peter's conduct was not in step with "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:14) though presumably it was in accordance with the law prior to the coming of Christ.

Finally, Paul notes that Peter feared those who were of the circumcision. This fear of men is associated with the hypocrisy mentioned twice in verse 13. However, Paul contrasts his boldness before them all to this fear of men (v. 14). The repetition of this theme indicates its importance and suggests that it picks up Paul's discussion in Gal. 1:10 in which seeking to please men is set in opposition to being a servant of Christ who seeks to please God.

In accordance with our previous observations, it also suggests that Paul believed the gospel indicatives and imperatives call believers to greater freedom from fear than did the law (in which one's covenant life was still bound up with an inheritance in this world and in which one could boast before others and so fear the face of men).

But now in Christ faith lays hold of the invisible inheritance above, the true possession of which is seen by God alone. Therefore, we must fear and please him alone. In this way, Paul brings the fear of God found in the law to a greater fullness through its greater semi-eschatological context.

Live by this Rule, Life in the Spirit

We have observed that the old covenant law was founded on the metaphysical presence of the Spirit with Israel. God's presence with Israel is then organically developed into the fullness of the eschatological inheritance of the Spirit. Therefore, the law founded upon God's presence with Israel is organically developed into the standard of the Spirit's presence with the Church (Gal. 6:16).


It is not surprising then to find that Paul tells Christians to "walk" by the "rule" of the new creation (Gal. 6:16). For the new creation is associated with the objective realm of the Spirit. (This reflects Isaiah's connection of the new creation with the eschatological Jerusalem; Is. 66:7-14, 20-23; Gal. 4:28 with 6:16.) Therefore, he also tells Christians to "walk" in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). The fact that the Spirit is an objective realm in which believers walk allows the Spirit to be an objective rule of life. In this way the realm of the Spirit as a rule is the organic unfolding of the law as a rule of life.

As we noted earlier, the semi-eschatological contrast between the flesh and the Spirit brings us beyond the partially mixed eschatology of the old covenant. (Thus, we can interpret the Spirit/flesh contrast as a relative contrast as well as an absolute contrast.) This is further substantiated by the words "if you are lead by the Spirit you are not under law" (Gal. 5:18) because this is both an absolute and relative contrast. In addition, being under law includes being under the blessing/curse scheme of the old covenant (compare Gal. 3:10, 22, 23, 25; 4:2, 4, 21; 5:18) in a relative or absolute sense (3:13-14, 22-26; 4:3-5). Therefore, when someone is lead by the Spirit, they have obviously received eschatological justification. In other words, once again eschatological justification sets the stage for the organic development of the law in the rule of the Spirit.22

Three examples should suffice to illustrate how this contrast between the flesh and Spirit is relative and how the standard of the Spirit is the organic unfolding of the standard of the law.

First, we return to the fact that the whole law is fulfilled in love (5:14). This theme recurs throughout chapter 5 (explicitly in 5:6, 14, 22 and implicitly from 5:6-6:17). In fact, we can say that life in the Spirit is defined by union with the love of Christ. Love is intimately united with the eschatological realm of the Spirit just as its opposites arise from a life focused on the flesh. Thus, envy (vv. 21 and 26), strife (vv. 15 and 20), and boasting (v. 26) are set in opposition to love. All that we have observed about boasting in


22Therefore, eschatological justification is necessary for the rule of the new creation. See also 2 Cor. 5:17-19 where the new creation in general (v. 17) is dependent upon eschatological reconciliation (v. 19).


relation to the relative contrast of the covenants can be related to the Spirit/flesh contrast.

Now, let us reflect on envy. The kind of sinful envy that Paul opposes is envying others for their worldly possessions, status, etc. In other words, envy arises out of a person's heart to the degree that s/he is focused on receiving earthly blessings. As the inheritance in Israel was partially earthly, even righteous Israel still had its eye partially upon the blessings of this world as a sign of God's covenant favor. This allowed some degree of envy and strife over worldly goods (even though envying, coveting, and strife were reduced and forbidden by way of God's presence with his people and the way he allotted the inheritance). However, in the new covenant, believers in Christ have an equal judicial share in everything that is considered their inheritance in God. This allows their standard of obedience to have a single covenantal focus on the things above. To the degree that they set their minds above, on that which has been given them in Christ, they will be content and at peace, not needing to envy one another, but instead rejoicing in the bounty they share together in Christ. Thus, life in the Spirit is ultimately geared toward love for others and peace in the Church. Their resurrection blessings in Christ will content believers to deny themselves the things of this world for the sake of one another. In this way the law's command not to covet is organically developed into greater fullness in the rule of the Spirit.

Finally, consider the fruit of joy (Gal. 5:22). The old covenant called Israel to rejoice in God's redemption and in the law which reflected it. Paul himself recognizes that righteous Israel under the law inwardly rejoiced in the law of God (Rom. 7:22). However, this joy was partially dependent on the way in which Israel saw God triumph over their worldly enemies and gave them earthly security in the land. Therefore, Jeremiah is believed to have written the book of Lamentations (in which Israel's joy is diminished) shortly after Jerusalem fell to its enemies.

Paul's claim that the fruit of the Spirit is joy reflects his belief that the final eschatological Jerusalem above has arrived through the redemptive work of Christ (Gal. 4:27 "Rejoice" with 4:26). God's eschatological triumph in Christ (eschatological justification) is therefore the organic unfolding of his redemptive acts administered under the old covenant. As a result, the joy of


the Spirit in the eschatological Jerusalem above (which can never be cursed) is the organic unfolding of the joy that Israel had in the law of God.

Conclusion to Galatians

Paul was troubled by those who were troubling the Galatian church. These troublers preached that one must be circumcised to participate in sonship in Abraham. However, Christ has died to this world and the old covenant's earthly inheritance. Therefore, to believe that circumcision is necessary to bring one into full participation of the blessings of salvation is like saying that an earthly inheritance similar to that of the old covenant is still the inheritance of God's people. It is to deny the semi-eschatological nature of the inheritance in Christ. For circumcision was partially a sign that either one's self and/or one's descendants would participate in the land with its Deuteronomic blessings and curses. To preach circumcision is to preach that Christians are still under the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy in their earthly theocratic sense rather than in their semi-eschatological fulfillment in Christ. It is therefore to deny eschatological justification.

Those in the Galatian church that bought into this could then boast in their earthly blessings over against other Christians in Galatia. This set the stage for envying one another for their respective earthly attainments. And it lead to the confusion and lack of unity that Paul is concerned about.

However, for Paul, the curses of the covenant have been borne for the Church eschatologically in Christ's death on the cross, and the blessings of the covenant have been given them semi-eschatologically in the inheritance above in Christ. All in the Church equally participate in Christ as their inheritance and in one another in him. There is nothing to boast in, nothing to envy one another for, for they all have the semi-eschatological life that is found in blessed union with God himself. For they are united to his eschatological love in Christ through the supreme act in which he gave himself up for them on the cross. And this is so that they may be crucified to the world and may rejoice in his life forevermore.


This is the unity to which the Church is called. And in this love she embodies the eschatological love of her savior who is united to her in the sweetest communion of love.

This is freedom from the world, this crucifixion to the world—and to that degree crucifixion to the law—that she may live out of the eschatological fullness of the law that is in Christ Jesus.

This is the arrival of the prophetic promises of Isaiah (now semi-eschatologically realized) in which the eschatological fullness of the law would go forth from Zion, where the nations would stream to the eschatological Jerusalem above, where they would put away their swords, where there would be peace and harmony forevermore, for they have been made at peace with their great God and King—eschatologically justified—and made to rest in his bosom as a new creation in the Spirit, a union of love forevermore.

Romans Develops Galatians

We have seen in Galatians that the organic development of the law in the rule of the Spirit (and semi-eschatological sanctification) are distinct but inseparable from eschatological justification. Paul develops this in Romans by giving the law an eschatological orientation (2:8 and 9, doing good = seeking eternal life. Recognizing the simultaneous absolute and relative contrasts helps unravel some of the difficulties of Romans 2). Then he claims that the law with its eschatological orientation comes to greater fullness in writing the law on the heart (Rom. 2:29). This language is picked up in Romans 7:6 which sets the stage for Romans 8:1ff., indicating that life in the Spirit is associated with having the law written on the heart (which is dependent on eschatological justification; 8:1 and 31-39). This reflects Jer. 31:34 (eschatological justification) with 31:33 (the law written on the heart).

Romans 8 and 7:6 also are in relative contrast to the situation in Romans 7:5, 7-25 in which righteous Israel could not do the law (Rom. 7:15-21 with the eschatological focus of 2:8 and 9). However, righteous Israel's desire to do the good, holy, and spiritual law (7:12, 13, 14, 18, 19, and 22; a desire which


can only arise from the law's gracious nature) is positively fulfilled in those in Christ through life in the Spirit (8:1ff.).

Romans 3, 4, and 5 make similar arguments, establishing the law in its organic fullness through eschatological justification. For instance, Romans 3:27, in which eschatological justification sets the stage to organically develop the law's prohibition against boasting, allows Paul to say that the gospel establishes the law (3:31 with 4:2).

Then, in Romans 10:5, eschatological justification allows the word of the law to come to its fullness in the gospel and come so near to one as to be written on the heart (10:6-10). In Romans 12:1, as a result of eschatological mercy, Paul identifies the church so closely with the fulness of the law in Christ that he calls them to live as semi-eschatological sacrifices.

Finally, Romans 13:8-10 indicates that all the commandments of the law are summed up in love. But Paul does not suggest that the command of love in its simple form replaces the need to interpret the particulars of the law in light of it (anti-nomianism). Instead, his overall approach to articulating specific fruits of the Spirit and works of the flesh (Gal. 5) indicates that he interpreted the particulars of the law in light of their fullness in Christ and their unity in the new realm of the Spirit. And he did not leave the Church to simply reflect upon the imperatives he explicitly interpreted. For, after articulating some of the commands, he says "and if there be any other commandment" it is also summed up in love.23 And since Paul has elsewhere viewed love eschatologically in Christ (Gal. 5; Rom. 8:35 and 39, 5:5), all the commandments are summed up in Christ and the rule of the Spirit of life in him.

And governing Paul's argument in Romans is his conviction that God has glorified himself more fully in Christ (Rom. 3:21, 26; 5:2; 9:17, 23-26; 11:33-36; 15:9; 16:27). God has triumphed in Christ, bringing the Spirit's holy war (under the law) to its semi-eschatological fulfillment. Christ rules the new inheritance in the Spirit eschatologically, and therefore no one can exile his people from his presence (Rom. 8:31-39). Let the nations fear and praise his


23 In possible contrast to Douglas Moo, who seems to limit the law of Christ to the explicit teachings of Christ and the apostles. See Five Views, 368-369; also 359-360.


name. This is the divine side of the new covenant in which the human side has its meaning. God has manifest his eschatological glory (which was always his in eternity) more fully in Christ, and has therefore brought his people into greater union with that glory. And thus the law of God's glory comes to its fullness in their hearts in Christ as they praise his name among the nations (Rom. 10:4-13; 15:9).

Here is the law of liberty, here is the life of peace, for in the resurrection of Christ we rejoice in the eschatological exaltation of the glory of God, worshipping him together with one heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

San Diego, California


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Thomas Hooker on Union with Christ*

The poor saints of God . . . are made one with Christ, and are of the blood royal; and this is the greatest privilege that can be. This should bear up the hearts of poor Christians. Ye are now in the very gate of heaven; nay let me say as the apostle speaks (and I see no reason why a man may not say he is in heaven in truth, though not in that measure and largeness of glory he shall be afterwards, 1 Thess. 4:17). The happiness that a Christian shall have in heaven is this: "he shall be ever with the Lord Jesus." Heaven were not heaven unless a man might be with Christ there. The place doth not make a man happy, but the union with a Savior makes him happy; and to be joined to Father, Son and Holy Ghost makes him happy—and the believer is now knit to them and therefore must needs be happy . . . Happy are ye, oh believing souls! Who is like unto you? Ye are saved by God and are married to the Lord Jesus Christ and are the Spouses of the Savior of the world. And he that is Judge of the world is your Husband, your beloved, and you are his. Let nothing therefore dismay your hearts.


*Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) came to Boston from England in 1633. He was pastor in Newtown (modern Cambridge) when he migrated with his congregation to the Connecticut River Valley in 1636. There they founded the town of Hartford. The excerpt above is from his book, The Soules Union With Christ (1638) 9-10.


Arius 'Orthodoxos'; Athanasius 'Politicus':

The Rehabilitation of Arius and the Denigration of Athanasius

James T. Dennison, Jr.

"If the Son is a creature . . . no help will come to creatures from a creature, since all need grace from God" (Athanasius, Contra Arianos, 2.41).

The Christological controversies of the 4th century have attracted considerable attention over the past twenty-five years. Patristic scholars have revisited the ante- and post-Nicene controversies, reexamining Arius, Arianism, Neo-Arianism, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, etc. The technical literature has exploded with a spate of articles and books by scholars with impressive credentials. As with all revisitations, the possibility of altered assessments looms large.

Revisionism is an academic pastime. Without being altogether crass about some of these recent studies, I must admit to an element of skepticism when Athanasius, for example, is labeled a thug (as in "gangster"). This shocking accusation seems to be taken from a page of his 4th century detractors (recall, he was alleged to have cut off a priest's hand, the damning appendage waved about by his Arian enemies as proof positive, only to be unmasked themselves


as liars and brigands when Athanasius produced the priest—alive with hand intact!)

The free world seems insatiably obsessed with the underdog. (Is there possibly a hint of Marxist historiography here, so dominant in the Western academy, even in patristic circles?) Arius has been a historical underdog for centuries and our modern revisionists have set themselves to the task of demonstrating his "theological conservatism." If we are shocked once more, it is because we are not properly initiated into the fine details of this scholarly rehabilitation of the ancient arch-heretic. Presuppositions do make a difference! Ours are altogether too naively orthodox (and myopic); the revisionists, of course, are absolutely objective and factual. Believe that last phrase and I have a bridge to sell you.

Modern historiography (patristic and otherwise) is one of the most agenda-based disciplines in the academy. We do not expect modern historians to approach the past without a bias, an ax to grind, a point to prove, If (the late) R.P.C. Hanson, Maurice Wiles, Timothy Barnes and others argue that Arius is really the good guy and Athanasius is the villain—I smell a rotten presupposition.

Revisionist conclusions are usually summarized as: (1) Arius remains elusive and his theology a "puzzle." Arianism was the invention of Athanasius in justification for his polemical opposition to the anti-Nicene party. (2) Non-Nicene Christianity of the 4th century is one of several varieties of Christianity common to that era—a "trajectory" of Alexandrian Christianity now regarded (by our revisionists) as valid as the Athanasian variety. (3) Arius was a "free spirit" whose liberty of inquiry and speculation was opposed because he was an anti-establishmentarian. He questioned the church's right to define certain (i.e., his) interpretations of the Bible as "unacceptable." (4) Church historians close to the era who treated the Arian controversy (Socrates Scholasticus, Sozomen, Theodoret of Cyrrhus) must be treated with suspicion because modern research is better able to reconstruct the "truth" of the matter than these "undoubtedly" biased reporters. These four general conclusions amount to a radical deconstruction of classic Nicene orthodoxy and a concomitant radical reconstruction of Arius and Arian error. If the revisionist case is correct that the essence of Arianism has been misinterpreted because Atha-


nasius created his enemy for reasons of political and personal ambition, then 1700 years of the history of doctrine is simply wrong—dead wrong!

Before scutinizing the revisionist case, we need to know who is playing this new game. As in baseball, a scorecard tells you "who's on first." The hubbub boiled over at the 1983 Ninth International Patristic Conference in Oxford, England. Of that (in)famous Conference, Jaroslav Pelikan has quipped (borrowing on Jerome): "Oxford awoke to find itself Arian." The major revisionists were all present: R.P.C. Hanson, Dennis Groh, Robert Gregg, Rowan Williams, Michel R. Barnes, Thomas Kopecek, Maurice Wiles. (We may add to this list the bitterly hostile Timothy Barnes, and the sympathetic if ambivalent Frances Young and Charles Kannengiesser.) Each of these modern pro-Arius scholars has produced a major work on the controversy: R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian controversy, 318-381 (1988); Dennis Groh and Robert Gregg, Early Arianism: A View of Salvation (1981); Robert Gregg (ed.), Arianism: Historical and Theological Reassessments (1985)—actually the texts of the papers presented by the revisionists at Oxford in 1983; Rowan Williams, Arius: Heresy & Tradition (Eerdmans rev. ed. 2002); Timothy Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (1993); Thomas Kopecek, A History of Neo-Arianism (1979); Maurice Wiles, Archetypal History: Arianism through the Centuries (1996); Frances Young, From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and its Background (1983); Charles Kannengiesser, Arius and Athanasius: Two Alexandrian Theologians (1991); Michel R. Barnes and Daniel Williams (eds.), Arianism After Arius: Essays on the Development of the Fourth Century Trinitarian Conflicts (1993).

Weighing in for the defense of the historic understanding of Arius the heretic and Athanasius the champion of Nicene orthodoxy are: Oscar Skarsaune, Incarnation—Myth or Fact? (1991); Alvyn Pettersen, Athanasius (1995); Khaled Anatolios, Athanasius: The Coherence of his Thought (1998); Peter Widdicombe, The Fatherhood of God from Origen to Athanasius (1994) and the latter's very important article, "Athanasius and the Making of the Doctrine of the Trinity," Pro Ecclesia 6/4 (Fall 1997): 456-78.

The root presupposition for vindicating Arius is the shocking assertion that he was a biblical exegete. Now let us ask this gallery of alleged first-class


scholars how they know Arius was a biblical exegete? What commentaries on the Bible did he write? Well, they admit (not the least bit chagrined), none that are extant (see especially Hanson, p. 6). What commentaries on the Bible is Arius alleged to have written? Well, they admit (still straight-faced), none! And still you insist he is a "biblical exegete"? This is scholarship?!! Well, if there are no extant commentaries on Scripture from Arius's pen, what sermons do we have by Arius which demonstrate his exegesis of Scripture? Well, our scholars admit, none. So we have no commentaries on the Bible; no sermons on Biblical texts; then what do we have by Arius? And our scholars list the following as the sole surviving authentic works of Arius.

First, the three uncontroverted pieces: (1) the letter which Arius wrote to Eusebius of Nicomedia (so-called Document/Urkunde #1; cf. Stevenson, A New Eusebius (=NE), 344-45; the letter is variously dated 318 to 321/22 A.D.); (2) the letter which Arius wrote to Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, containing a confession of faith (so-called Document/Urkunde #6; cf. NE, 346-47; variously dated 320/21 A.D.); (3) the letter to the Emperor Constantine in which Arius and Euzoius confess their faith (so-called Document/Urkunde #30; cf. NE, 375-76; variously dated 327 to 334 A.D). The fourth document—Arius's Thalia ("The Banquet")—is a hotbed of controversy. Few of our revisionist scholars will permit it any weight in the discussion of Arius's theology. Why? because the only copies extant are two versions documented by Athanasius (Against the Arians (Orationes Contra Arianos) I.5-6 in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, [hereafter NPNF2] 4:308-9; and De Synodis 15, ibid., 457-58). And since Athanasius (unlike our purely objective modern revisionists) cannot be trusted to have reported what Arius really wrote, the (alleged) Thalia is dismissed. ". . . from the Thalia, Arius' only known theological work, we meet the difficulty that they are all quotations made or reproduced by Athanasius, a fierce opponent of Arius who certainly would not have stopped short of misrepresenting what he said" (Hanson, 10).

Other sources which quote Arius are also regarded as "unreliable." These include: Alexander's letter to Arius (so-called henos somatos, now generally believed to have been written by Athanasius; Document/Urkunde #4b; cf. NE, 342-44; dated about 319 to 325 A.D.); Alexander's circular letter on the Arian strategy (so-called he philarchos; Document/Urkunde #14; cf. NE, 347-


50; dated 321/22 to 324 A.D.); Constantine's letter to Alexander and Arius (Document/Urkunde #17; cf. NE, 352-54; dated 324 A.D.).

Hence, on the basis of only three genuine documents from the pen of Arius (according to our revisionist scholars)—documents numbering less than 6 pages, 9 paragraphs and 85 lines in the H.-G. Opitz Greek edition (in English translation, 6 pages, 12 paragraphs, 120 lines)—our same revisionist scholars have produced interpretations, explanations, profound penetrations of this prolific "heretic" amounting to 931 pages (Hanson), 378 pages (Williams), 343 pages (Barnes), 209 pages (Gregg and Groh), 204 pages (Wiles). Would that 6 pages, 12 paragraphs, 120 lines of Athanasius's corpus received comparable treatment. But, of course, Athanasius has left hundreds of pages with lengthy exegeses of Biblical passages and numerous detailed expositions of his understanding of the relation between the Father and the Son. "Methinks," say our revisionists, "that Athanasius writes too much. He is therefore most definitely unreliable!" Surely this current revisionist madness is badly skewed. Forsooth, there is something rotten in PC ("patristically correct") studies these days. How do we know so much from so little? Dear reader, remember, these are scholars. And in their work upon Athanasius, perhaps he has taught them so well that they are stealing (oops! borrowing) a page from his "gangster" dossier—he invented Arianism; they are reinventing Arianism!!

Let us read/hear Arius himself, from the documents accepted as genuine by out revisionists. And then, let us ascertain what the revisionists themselves say Arius is saying on the basis of these documents: Arius, in his own words, and the revisionist exegesis of Arius's own words.

Document #1 (Urkunde #1)

Arius writes that he does not agree with Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, when the latter preaches, "Always Father, always Son" (or "God has always been, and the Son has always been"). By his own words, Arius does not agree with the eternality of the Son (or the co-eternality of the Son with the Father). Arius affirms that he himself teaches, "The Son had a beginning, but God is without beginning. This is really the cause of our persecution."


Here Arius expands on the temporal (i.e., non-eternal) nature of the son. According to Arius, he is like all other things which are not God—they are created, have a "beginning", were not, and then they were. It would appear that a straightforward reading of Arius's words indicates that he believes the son of God is : (1) not eternal; (2) a being with a "beginning."

Hanson quotes Arius (in this letter) as affirming that "before he [the son] was begotten, or created or determined or established, he did not exist" (p. 6). Hanson features Arius's words that the son did not exist before he was created or begotten. Williams quotes Arius as teaching that "God alone is anarchos ["without beginning"], and the Son has an arche ["beginning"] (p. 97). According to Williams, therefore, Arius affirms that the son of God "must be made, like all creation, out of nothing [ek ouk onton]" (ibid.). Williams concludes that Arius is teaching that God the Father (or God "unbegotten," as Arius puts it) "initiates the creative process by freely bringing the Son into being" (p. 98). Williams agrees: Arius teaches that "the Son is not eternal" (ibid.).

Gregg and Groh examine Arius's remarks that God (the Father) exists prior to the son, not co-terminously with him ("God has existence without beginning prior to his Son," NE, 344) ("Centrality of Soteriology in Early Arianism." Anglican Theological Review 59 (1977): 263ff.). Continue Gregg and Groh, "God only receives the name Father, according to Arius, upon the creation of the Son" (ibid., p. 263). Furthermore, our revisionist authors agree that Arius asserts the "creation of the Son" in this letter to Eusebius (ibid., p. 266).

Christopher Stead suggests that Arius made a "tactical error" when he described the son as "from [out of] nothing [ek ouk onton]" ("The Word 'From Nothing'." Journal of Theological Studies 49/2 (1998): 671). Stead is nothing if not transparent about Arius's Logos: "the Logos must be seen as junior, as radically inferior and subordinate to the Father" ("Arius in Modern Research." Journal of Theological Studies 45/1 (1994): 25). Arius's "junior" being is, quite frankly, a "creation" (ktisma). Arius is, in fact, a Patritarian (unitarianism of the Father), not a Trinitarian. "From nothing" radically distinguishes and separates the Son from the Father. Stead's sympathy for Arius's blunder flows from the "old conservative's" failure to read the mood of the times.


Alexandrian Christianity in the 4th century was dominated by the "incoherent" doctrines of Alexander and Athanasius in defense of the eternal generation of the Son of God from the substance (ousia) or being of the Father (rather than "from nothing").

It is clear that Arius teaches the non-eternality of the son of God; that he is made out of nothing; that before he was made, he did not exist. Arius's revisionist defenders agree that this is what Arius taught.

Thus, when Athanasius asserts that Arius denies the eternality of the Son; that Arius teaches that the Son/Logos of God is a creature; that before he was created, he did not exist—how is this a misrepresentation or political manipulation of Arius's doctrine? ("They say . . . 'Not always Father, not always Son; for the Son was not before His generation, but, as others, came to be from nothing; and in consequence God was not always Father of the Son; but, when the Son came to be and was created, then was God called Father"— Athanasius, De Decretis, 3.6 [NPNF2, 4:153-54].) The words of Arius are plain and clear; the explanation of Arius's words by Hanson, Williams, Gregg and Groh and Stead are plain and clear. How then has Arius been misunderstood or his doctrine skewed to another's personal agenda? Are the revisionist committed, in being committed to the defense of Arius's Christology, to a Christology different from that of historic Christian orthodoxy? It certainly appears so, for they defend a doctrine of the Son of God who is not eternal, not always Son, a creature. They are, in truth, modern scholars, defending functional Christology, not ontological Christology.

Again, the favorite term of Arius for God is "ingenerate" or "unbegotten" or "inoriginate" (agennetos)—an unbiblical term, ironic in view of Arian demands for the language of the Bible "alone" in the church's creeds. That is, Arius, Arians and our modern revisionists have scored the orthodox use of homoousios ("consubstantial" or "of the same substance") in the Nicene Creed as an insertion of an alien, non-biblical term (cf. Dennis Groh, "Arius, Arianism" in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1: 384-86, esp. p. 386). Have we caught our revisionists demonstrating the pot calling the kettle black??!


Document #2 (Urkunde #6)

This letter from Arius to Alexander is frequently called a "confession." In it, Arius distinguishes himself from traditional heretics: Valentinus (Gnostics); Manichaeans; Sabellius; Hieracus. He asserts that the son of God is a "perfect creature of God, but not as one of the creatures"; "created before times and before ages, and gaining life and being and His glories from the Father, who gave real existence to those together with Him." Once again, Arius affirms that the Son of God is a creature—a very high creature, but nonetheless a creature. In addition, the non-eternality motif of Document #1 is also present (in fact, a necessary corollary of the son's creaturehood, however exalted). To make this explicit, Arius continues, "God, being the cause of all things, is unbegun and altogether sole but the Son being begotten apart from time by the Father, and being created and found before all ages, was not before his generation." Here is the first echo of the traditional Arian slogan "there was (a time) when he was not." Lest any doubt remain about the created status of the son, Arius continues: "For He is not eternal or co-eternal or co-unoriginate with the Father . . . but as God is before all things as being Monad and Beginning of all." As Monad, God exists as God alone, unrelated, undifferentiated. The son is derivative from, less than, not the same as this Monad. Hence to call Arius a divine Monadist or Unitarian is not at all unfair. He confesses it!

Finally, Arius repudiates the consubstantiality of the Son. "If the terms 'from Him' and 'from the womb' and 'I came forth from the Father and I come' be understood by some to mean as if a part of Him, being consubstantial, or as an issue, then the Father is according to them compounded and divisible." Arius opposes any consubstantial (homoousios) nature of the Son with the Father because this would topple his divine Monad and make him not Unitarian, but (at least) Binatarian (the Father is essential God and the Son is essential God, both co-essential). Arius's whole career was a repudiation of consubstantial persons in the Godhead, whether two or three. Here he states that repudiation plainly and clearly.

Hanson explains the salient portions of this "confession" as follows. Derived from the Father, the son may not be regarded as "consubstantial" with him for this would mean that "God is composite and divisible" (p. 8). Arius is


unable to conceive of a Father and a Son sharing equally the same, identical divine substance or essence. To suggest this is to make the Son a "broken-off bit of God" (ibid.). Hanson confirms Arius's Unitarianism (God as single Monad; the son as derivative, i.e., created, non-Monad). Thus, for Hanson, Arius's second genuine remainder is a ringing affirmation of the son as created, not eternal, not consubstantial with the Father. Arius, it would seem, continues to be Arius!

Williams provides little analysis of this second document besides some commonplace remarks about Arius "defending his status as a teacher of the church" (p. 96). He does provide a translation of the statement (pp. 270-72) with several encomiums ("carefully phrased text"; "skill as a dialectician"), but virtually no commentary on Arius's teaching. In the light of the paucity of genuine Arius texts, one would expect scholar Williams to seize gladly on any tidbit in the interest of defending the "old conservative." Alas, perhaps Williams is tacitly admitting that the "conservative" in indefensible when Document #2 is presented.

Gregg and Groh also make little of Arius's teaching in Document #2. Their emphasis upon the son as a creation of God's will places the Logos outside of God's own essence/being and therefore derivative ("truly distinct" and separate). As Gregg and Groh are the leading advocates of Arius's exemplaristic soteriology, this voluntarism in the production of the son ("from the will of God") makes redemption an act of God's will which all other (human) creatures are capable of imitating. While the thesis of Gregg and Groh re Arius's soteriology is regarded with skepticism by many (Williams, Stead, etc.), it appears to be consistent with opposition to Arius from Alexander and Athanasius. But, of course, for some revisionists, this would afford far too much credibility to the anti-Arians. And that simply will not do!

Stead cites Document #2 as follows: "Arius does indeed, in his own words, proclaim the inferiority of the Logos and his substantial unlikeness to the Father in just the way that Athanasius condemns" ("Arius in Modern Research." Journal of Theological Studies 45 (1994): 28). I cannot resist underscoring the admission of what Arius is classically alleged to have said "in his own words" juxtaposed with the 'villain', Athanasius, as an accurate reporter. According to the revisionist Stead, Athanasius correctly understood Arius to teach


the "inferiority of the Logos" and "his substantial unlikeness to the Father"! My head reels at the on-going revisionist dedication to exculpating Arius while skewering Athanasius.

Document #3 (Urkunde #30)

Arius's credal statement (with Euzoius) in a letter to the Emperor Constantine is undoubtedly written subsequent to the Nicene Council and Creed (325 A.D.). Arius is pleading for reconciliation ("peace") in light of his banishment following the First Ecumenical Council. Arius is bold; he speaks on behalf of the faith professed by "all our adherents." He further pleads that "all superfluous questions and wranglings" be put aside. The confession is a bland acknowledgment of the "only begotten Son, who was begotten of [the Father] before all ages." Clearly, Arius has learned to avoid saying more than is necessary since his condemnation by the bishops assembled at Nicaea.

Hanson concedes that this statement is a "colourless creed which has been carefully divested of any controversial wording" (p. 8). One may wonder who is the politician now? Hanson concludes that the document is without "theological significance" (p. 9).

Williams concurs with Hanson: "this is a studiedly uncontroversial composition" (p. 279). In it, Arius "tells us almost nothing about [his] distinctive views" (p. 97).

Gregg and Groh, as well as Stead, do not expand upon the content of this final document.


As noted above, the Thalia of Arius is suspect because all the extant copies derive from versions found in the corpus of Athanasius. While it is possible to assess Arius's doctrine without the benefit of the Thalia, Charles Kannengiesser draws attention to parallel patterns found in the latter document and the (alleged) unimpeachable Arius (Documents 1, 2 and 3 above)


("Holy Scripture and Hellenistic Hermeneutics in Alexandrian Christology: The Arian Crisis," in Charles Kannengiesser, Arius and Athanasius: Two Alexandrian Theologians, esp. pp. 6-11).

In his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, Arius objects to Alexander's teaching that "God has always been, the Son has always been." The Thalia reads: "God was not always Father"; "the Son was not always" (Contra Arianos=Discourse 1 Against the Arians, 1.5—NPNF2, 4:308); "though the Son was not, the Father was God" (De Synodis, 15—NPNF2, 4:457). The material in the Thalia certainly appears to reflect the same doctrine as the material in Arius's letter to Eusebius.

Again to Eusebius, Arius writes: "And that He was not, before He was begotten" (ibid.). The Thalia reads: "hence the Son, not being . . . is God only-begotten" (ibid.). Begottenness in both documents means createdness, i.e., non-eternality. Both documents trace the origin of the Son to the "will" of the Father. A voluntary act, not an essential or consubstantial (homoousios) generation, is the source of the Son's being (ad extra to the Father).

In his letter to Alexander, Arius mentioned three "subsistences" (hypostaseis)—the ingenerate (God, the Father), the generate (the son) and the holy spirit. (The Spirit is mentioned by Arius only in quoting the baptismal formula of Mt. 28:19 in his confession to Constantine.) The Thalia repeats the mention of the "subsistences" (hypostaseis) and specifies that they are not consubstantial: "the Father is other that the Son in substance (kat' ousian)" (Williams translation, p. 102). Both documents contain remarks about the divine "Monad." The priority of the divine Monad is emphasized by Arius in order to separate Monad and "Dyad" (Thalia). "Before it came to be" (i.e., the Dyad/son), the Monad was. "Understand that the Monad was; but the Dyad was not, before it was in existence" (NPNF2, 4:457). The creation of the son is a theme common to both documents. Finally, both documents contain pertinent reflections on the word "consubstantial" (homoousios). In the confession to Alexander, Arius cites homoousion as the Manichaean error ("Manichaeus taught that the offspring [son] was a portion of the Father, consubstantial [homoousios]," NE, 346; later Arians were to designate the term the "Abomination of Desolation"). In the Thalia, we read "he is not equal to God, nor yet is he of the same substance (homoousios)" (Williams, ibid.). The


genuine document from Arius shares remarkable similarities with the document alleged to be suspect (because found in Athanasius). Is it likely that Athanasius's Arius (Thalia) and Arius's Arius (Confession to Alexander) are one and the same? Nearly all of church history thought so until the revisionists suggested tendentious motives to Athanasius.

Revisionist scholars may be suspicious of the provenance of the Thalia, but the tone and doctrine of Athanasius's versions are consistent with the "historical Arius" (as shown in his letters to Eusebius and Alexander). It would seem reasonable (biased presuppositions aside) to place the Thalia in the "historical Arius" corpus. It would also seem that the only reason to void its testimony is a sobering realization that a truly Arius Thalia damns the attempt to recreate Arius in a more favorable modern light. Reading the genuine documents in the light of the Thalia presents Arius in precisely the light Athanasius shined upon him. The case is cumulative and definitive: all the documents (and all the revisionists admit that at least the genuine documents) show an Arius who taught a supreme divine Monad (monotheistic, unitarian deity as opposed to a monotheistic, trinitarian deity), begetting/creating a son before time (as opposed to begetting the Son eternally from his homoousios/consubstantial essence), by a voluntary act outside of/apart from his essential being (as opposed to an eternal generation from his being), so that the son is not equal to the Father—neither co-eternal, nor co-essential, nor co-terminus.

If the case is as I have presented it—that the doctrine of the genuine historical Arius is the same as the doctrine of Arius reported by Athanasius—then why the fuss? If our revisionists admit that the historical Arius repudiated the consubstantiality of the Son of God; that the historical Arius taught that the Son of God is a created being, not an eternal being; that the historical Arius taught that the Monad produced the son ad extra, by an act of will—why do they come to his defense and villify Athanasius? In truth, they do not believe in the biblical, orthodox (as articulated in the Nicene Creed) doctrine of the Trinity or the essential deity of the Son/Logos of God (so plainly taught in John 1:1 and elsewhere). And the reason they do not believe in the essential deity of the Son of God is because they are modern men and women who have embraced the fashionable liberalism of contemporary Christology, i.e., the distinction between functional and ontic Christology. Functional


Christologists contend that the "historical Jesus" never claimed to be God (co-essential deity); rather he was a creature—a very good human creature—who provided the highest exemplar of "God-likeness." Now if this functional Christology sounds vaguely familiar—like Arianism and/or Neo-Arianism—that is because it is Arianism!! The repudiation of ontic Christology (the Son of God is God) in our generation is tied intimately to the repudiation of orthodox Christology (Jesus of Nazareth is God, essential deity, in the flesh) in our generation. Arius's son of God is the modern liberal son of God—not God himself, but a creature.

But there is another reason for the modern search for the "historical Arius." And that reason is the ghost of Walter Bauer (of Bauer-Ardnt-Gingrich fame). In 1934, Bauer wrote a book which revolutionized patristic studies: Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzeri im altesten Christentum (English translation, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity [1971]). Bauer's thesis was this: the Christian victors were the "orthodox", the losers were the "heretics." Orthodoxy was the name for triumphalist Christianity in its earliest years, according to Bauer. There was no single "right doctrine" derived from the New Testament—in fact, the disparate theologies of the New Testament writings convinced Bauer (as it had convinced all liberalism from the Enlightenment onward) that no single conception of Christianity (New Testament or otherwise) has precedence over another. Bauer argued that geographical communities of Christians (Antioch, Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, etc.) demonstrated a variety of "Christianities." Those that came to be dominant were those which achieved political and ecclesiastical power over the others. There was no "correct" variety of Christianity—only competing varieties until the fittest/strongest triumphed (do I detect a hint of Darwinianism applied to patristics?). The student of the early church, according to Bauer, could only map out the "trajectories" of belief for various communities and attempt to trace their development. When a "trajectory" achieved establishmentarian status, "orthodoxy" was attained.

The language of "trajectory" and "political orthodoxy" is common coin in the current revisionist discussion of Arianism. These buzzwords are dead giveaways that we are not dealing with objective scholarship in this matter (if my analysis above has not already demonstrated the tendentious nature of the


modern pro-Arian party). We are dealing with propaganda, scholarly agendas, attempts to re-write history as a reflection of the triumph of heretofore suppressed varieties of Christianity. The endless litany from our modern pro-Arian scholars is that he is a "traditional" Christian, a "conservative" Alexandrian, a "biblical" exegete, etc. This telltale language is indicative of the Bauer thesis: Arius is "orthodox" until the Christian majority (under Athanasius and Constantine) succeed in suppressing him. Only after the triumph of Athanasius's Nicene Christology is Arius persona non grata. Prior to 381 A.D. (the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople), Arianism is just one (struggling) form of Christianity in a sea of many forms of Christianity. That Arius lost was just bad luck, not bad biblical exegesis or bad biblical doctrine. He ran into the brutal machine of "gangster" Athanasius and his king.

The shocking revisionist rehabilitation of Arius over the past twenty-five years is not because new genuine documents from Arius's pen have been discovered (no "Qumran" or "Nag Hammadi" Arius tomes!). No, not new information, but a new spin on old information. Not a spin which can deny what Arius actually taught (the genuine consensus documents are too patently clear), but a spin which can relativize Arius in the context of his culture. Arius's brand of Christianity is like Heinz 57 varieties—one among many. He lost in the 4th century, but his modern advocates are determined that he will win in the 21st century. And if not win, at least be rehabilitated to "respectable Christian." Such a rehabilitation will be the end of the Nicene Creed; the end of ontic Christology; the end of the orthodox biblical doctrine of the deity of Christ as Son of God, consubstantial with the Father (and the Holy Spirit). And that, dear reader, puts us right back where Arius and Arianism leaves us—back in classic paganism!

So What Difference Does It Make?

Can a creature save a creature? Or was it necessary for the Creator to take the nature of a creature in order to redeem sinful creatures? The Arian doctrine of salvation (soteriology) is crucially tied to the Arian doctrine of the son of God (Christology). As noted above, our revisionists furiously disagree over this element in the discussion. Gregg and Groh are the leading advocates of a


carefully defined Arian soteriology (cf. also Groh, "The Arian Controversy—How It Divided Early Christianity." Bible Review 10 (1994): 20-32). Their conclusion is moralistic: Jesus is an example of virtue—which example is open to every human creature. "Salvation" is therefore entrance into Jesus' moral example of a virtuous life. Their conclusion is also adoptionistic: Jesus' virtuous life earned him the right to be adopted as "son of God." All other human creatures may receive equivalent adoption by following his example.

One reason others have opposed Gregg and Groh is that their case depends on the report by Alexander on Arius's doctrine of redemption (so-called Document/Urkunde #14; in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, 6:291-96; variously dated 321-324 A.D.). But as we have pointed out above, if Athanasius must be regarded with suspicion when he reports Arius's opinions/teachings, Alexander may not be regarded as any more reliable when he alleges Arius's doctrine of salvation. Hence many revisionists refuse to recognize Alexander's testimony.

But surely, it is reasonable to suppose, one of the "trajectories" of Arius's doctrine of the person of the son of God would have been the results or effects of that sonship on men and women in the church (cf. Hanson, pp. 92-94). Who Jesus is and what Jesus does or brings are inseparably united (they certainly are for others in the 4th century milieu, i.e., Athanasius and Alexander). Thus, Williams muses that Arius must have had some resultant notion of what the son of God means to Christians in history. (His most suggestive comment is: [God's] freedom and sovereignty are exercised in grace, the grace first given to the first of the creatures, his only and beloved Son"—p. 98; cf. his review of Hanson's book in the Scottish Journal of Theology 45 [1992]: 101-11, esp. p. 109.) And since the vocabulary of salvation/redemption/justification is woven through the New Testament, the son of God must have something to do with these concepts. Williams remains agnostic about what that may be (ironic in that he is very certain about Arius's Christology), but at least he acknowledges that Gregg and Groh are asking a proper question.

Thus, the status quaestionis is this: can a being, created as the son of God, efficaciously satisfy the penalty for another sinner (let alone a "world" of sinners) by moral example? If the cross of Christ is the summum bonum of an exemplary moral life (the life of a good creature), how is it the basis of forgiveness of sins for others, reconciliation with God and vindication of jus-


tifying righteousness? No creature in the Bible is regarded as capable of producing these saving graces (sacrificial creatures are typological, not actual "redeemers") because no creature is sufficient to unite essential God and sinful man. Athanasius and Alexander (with the fathers at Nicaea) understood this, which is why they grounded their doctrine of the (uncreated) Son of God in the biblical teaching of consubstantial deity (Father and Son). Only God could save a creature and God the Son did precisely that.

Regardless of the conclusions of the inter-revisionist debate about soteriology or no soteriology in Arius, one thing remains clear. Arius's "son of God" can never bring sinners to God the Father. Arius's Father God is "unoriginate", "unbegotten", pure "will", first cause, etc.; he is not essentially a God in relation—neither with his son, nor with the creation, nor with sinners. Arius's God reminds us of the remote deity of pagan antiquity—an Unmoved Monad, distinct and separate from any relationships with another than himself.

Here is what is at stake in the current revisionist foray—what was at stake 1700 years ago at Nicaea and Alexandria. Only a God-man can redeem sinners because only true God (the Son) can become flesh (Jn. 1:14) so as to redeem that flesh and unite it to God. Athanasius's greatest work, The Incarnation of the Word (De Incarnatione Verbi), is a statement and defense of just this position. As he stood contra orbem/mundum ("against the world"), so too shall we stand contra revisionem, if need be.

Finally, a postscript on the defenders of Alexander, Athanasius, Nicaea and the traditional orthodox case against Arius and Arianism. Oskar Skarsaune has written a very useful, semi-popular book on the incarnation. He surveys the biblical material and traces the discussion of the deity of the incarnate Son of God to the Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon, 451 A.D.). The book is a clear, readable articulation of the orthodox position summarized in the Creed of Nicaea. Alvyn Pattersen has written the most capable and penetrating study of Athanasius. His volume is a mini-handbook of patristic theology to the 4th century. Careful and balanced, yet refreshingly orthodox, Pettersen articulates and defends the champion of Nicaea. Khaled Anatolios attempts to respond to the Arian revisionists by demonstrating the uniform coherence of Athanasius's doctrine. This is a technical study, useful in the debate, but a bit


turgid in style and convoluted in organization. Peter Widdicombe has attempted to survey the relational categories of "Father" and "Son" from Origen to Athanasius. His goal is to demonstrate the faithfulness of Athanasius (not Arius) to the Alexandrian Christology of Origen. And though Origen may contain some problematic expressions, the eternal generation of the Son from the Father is not one of them (ouk en hote ouk en, "there was no moment when he [the Son of God] was not"; cf. De Principiis, 1.2.9 in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, 4:249). Arius cannot qualify as Origenist on this point, in spite of revisionist ink to the contrary. Widdicombe's excellent article on the Trinity in Pro Ecclesia is nothing short of a tour de force. The committed orthodox scholar and reader will find each of these volumes/articles useful "in defense of the faith once for all delivered to the saints." To the glory of our God (Jn. 20:28) and Savior (Jn. 20:30, 31)!

Northwest Theological Seminary
Lynnwood, Washington


Hilary of Poitiers

On the Son of God*

For our sake, therefore, Jesus Christ, retaining all these attributes, and being born man in our body, spoke after the fashion of our nature without concealing that divinity belonging to His own nature. In His birth, His passion, and His death, He passed through all the circumstances of our nature, but He bore them all by the power of His own. He was Himself the cause of His birth, He willed to suffer what He could not suffer, He died though He lives forever. Yet God did all this, not merely through man, for He was born of Himself, he suffered of His own free will, and died of Himself. He did it also as man for He was really born, suffered and died. These were the mysteries of the secret counsels of heaven, determined before the world was made. The Only-begotten God was to become man of His own will, and man was to abide eternally in God. God was to suffer of His own will, that the malice of the devil, working in the weakness of human infirmity, might not confirm the law of sin in us, since God had assumed our weakness. God was to die of His own will, that no power, after that the immortal had constrained Himself within the law of death, might raise up its head against Him, or put forth the natural strength which He had created in it. Thus God was born to take us into Himself, suffered to justify us, and died to avenge us; for our manhood abides for ever in Him, the weakness of our infirmity is united with His strength, and the spiritual powers of iniquity and wickedness are subdued in the triumph of our flesh, since God died through the flesh.


*De Trinitate ("On the Trinity") was written by Hilary (ca. 315-367/68 A.D.) while in exile. He had been punished by the pro-Arian Council of Biterrae/Beziers (356 A.D.) for refusing to condemn Athanasius. During his sojourn in the East, Hilary became acquainted with the writings of the Christian fathers of Asia Minor, Palestine and Egypt. His book on the Trinity (written from 356-59 A.D.) was the first extensive study of the doctrine in Latin. Incorporating the insights of Eastern advocates of the Nicene Creed, Hilary was instrumental in uniting East and West against all who denied the essential ("consubstantial") deity of Christ. Hilary's work on the Trinity had a profound influence on Augustine's book of the same title (final edition, 420 A.D.). The exerpt above is from Book ix, paragraph 7.


Book Reviews

Robert Kysar, Preaching John. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002. 252 pp., paperback. ISBN: 0-8006-3226-5. $18.00.

Much of Robert Kysar's professional career has been devoted to John's gospel. From his provocative John, the Maverick Gospel (1976) to the present mature volume, the Bandy Professor at Chandler School of Theology (Emory University) has reviewed and reconstructed scholarship on this gospel in order to make it accessible to a modern audience. Kysar has included homiletic suggestions and examples in this book (even sermons from his wife, Myrna) in order to underscore his title. Kysar is dependent on the sterling work of Raymond Brown (his "Preface" pays tribute to the late Professor from Union Seminary in New York) in his revolutionary commentary on the fourth gospel in the Anchor Bible series. But beyond Brown, Kysar is conversant with recent narrative approaches to this wonderful gospel: Culpepper, Duke, O'Day, Staley, Stibbe, Talbert are found in the bibliography. (One significant omission is the powerful work of George Mlakuzhyil, The Christocentric Literary Structure of the Fourth Gospel [1987].)

Hence we have an up-to-date review of scholarship on the gospel of John. The book even focuses on recent scholarly discussion so as to bring the contemporary pastor abreast of Johannine research. Here is the strong suit of this volume (the latest in the "Fortress Resources for Preaching" series). Kysar succinctly summarizes recent discussions so that the modern preacher may get up to speed with Johannine reflections. Metaphor, irony, symbolism, dualism, narrative patterning: all are investigated, discussed and illustrated from


John's work. Footnotes point to more detailed treatment for those interested in digging further. In all, this aspect of the book is very helpful. If a pastor wants a once over lightly of contemporary discussion on John's gospel, this book fits the bill.

Kysar treats the bulk of the gospel in the main portion of his book (pp. 1-174); an additional chapter ("Fragments of Texts," pp. 175-217) fills in gaps omitted. The reason for the twofold structure is due to the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Kysar has adjusted the first part of his work to the texts from John chosen for the lectionary; "Fragments" picks up some pieces omitted from the lectionary calendar.

Each section or subsection of the book includes a sermon or sermon fragment in which the reader discovers Kysar applying the theory of penetrating John's text to the practice of proclaiming that text to a modern audience. Much of this bridge building between John's community and our own is predictable liberalism: poverty, racism, multiculturalism, militarism, "America" as failure. John's text is used to bully pulpit these favorite agenda issues of contemporary socio-political liberalism. If one needs an example of fundamentalism of the left politicizing the gospel/pulpit, here it is. Kysar's rants against "conservative/traditional" America are profoundly illiberal—no left-wing agendas are criticized, for instance. Herein Kysar cannot rise above his own horizon: he himself is a social, theological and political liberal. John serves his (Kysar's) agenda.

But this is precisely what Kysar believes he must do. Since John's gospel is an interpretation of an interpretation (i.e., John is promoting his own agenda, p. 8), Kysar simply follows in his train. Given the premise that the gospel writer is reconstructing (or, more modernly, deconstructing) the Jesus event, Kysar reconstructing the reconstruction (or deconstructing the deconstruction) is perfectly reasonable. Of course, this means that there is no final truth in John's story of Jesus—only "truth" to be apprehended by man/woman in his/her shifting perception of "truth." As truths change, John's voice will change. If Kysar makes John sound like a member of the Democratic party that is because Kysar is (likely) a member of the Democratic party.


Hence the sermonic pieces in this volume ring with the calls to social justice, involvement in poverty and anti-racism. It is as if Kysar has not made it beyond the 60's—but perhaps that is where he truly lives. His golden age is the halycon decade of King, Kennedy and the Berrigan brothers.

There are moments when Kysar asks his audience/reader to "enter into" John's story of Jesus and "claim [it] as [our] own story" (p. 6), but this means that John's gospel is shaped to a 20th/21st century milieu. Kysar's dialectics change "eternal life" into present "quality of life" (pp. 71, 75); John's "Logos" is an "alien" Christology (pp. 14, 180)—paradoxical and pluralistic, not metaphysical (i.e., Logos may not be equated with deity or a person of the Godhead); "faith" is an existential "leap" (pp. 67-68)—with a dutiful nod to Rudolf Bultmann; Christ's passion is "love," not atonement; "judgment" is present/ imminent, not eternal/permanent.

The majesty of John's soaring gospel (from heaven and to heaven) is gutted by Kysar's reimaging of John's imagery. Always the present, the horizontal, the earthly for Kysar; never the eternal, the vertical, the heavenly. Kysar's understanding of John's world is that it was invented (p. 40) in order to enable John's readers/hearers to live in their world. Kysar simply continues the inventive story for his readers/hearers. Sadly, the sermon pieces illustrating our author's homiletic application could have been written by many contemporary Reformed and evangelical preachers. The pieces are relevant—about the earth and life on the earth, not about life in metaphysical union with the (Son of) God of heaven and heaven's arena, reflected/witnessed in the earthly realm. There are catchy stories, movie illustrations, poignant life situations, directions to look to Jesus in these pieces, but the Jesus to whom Kysar directs is an invention—a re-invention—a continuous re-invention in the image of the church's current cultural context.

When we put his book down, for all of its summary, scholarly insights, we are left not with John's story of Jesus, but with Robert Kysar's story of Robert Kysar.



John G. Cook, The Interpretation of the New Testament in Greco-Roman Paganism. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. 385 pp., paperback. ISBN: 1-56563-658-9. $24.95.

This is a very important book for at least two reasons. First, it is a summary (in English!) of current scholarship on the anti-Christian polemicists of the patristic era: Celsus, Porphyry, Julian the Apostate, etc. Virtually every angle (date, provenance, authenticity, pagan cultural context) since Harnack is examined anew and brought up-to-date. Second, Cook provides a summary of the (anti-) exegetical principles of the Christian adversaries. In a thoroughly informative manner, he traces the pagan discontent with the Christian Scriptures, including alleged allegorism, historical falsehood and anti-cultural betrayal by New Testament and Patristic writers.

Cook suggests that Christian apologetics is an outgrowth and continuation of Jewish apologetics (the encounter of Hellenistic Judaism with its pagan milieu). From these cross currents, our author isolates the following patterns of similarity. Jewish and Christian apologists addressed: (1) the issue of the allegorical interpretation of the Bible; (2) the relationship of the God of the Bible to the "god" of the philosophers; (3) the charge that the Jews and Christians were immoral atheists. In the case of Christians, we may add the scurrilous accusation of cannabalism (Thyestean banquets) and Oedipal intercourse.

Beginning with Celsus's True Doctrine, Cook reconstructs his anti-Christian remarks "into a sort of pagan's commentary on the gospels." By means of neatly numbered subsections, Cook examines Celsus's hostility to Christology, his rejection of the "argument from prophecy" and "the argument from hell", as well as his opposition to the Christian critique of "image worship and polytheism" (p. 17).

Celsus maintains that the gospels are unhistorical, even fictitious, inventions. The virgin birth is "incredible"; in fact, Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier named Panthera. Jesus did sojourn in Egypt, but as an adult, where he learned the chicanery of the Egyptian magicians (thus explaining the true source of Jesus' "miraculous" powers). The teachings of Jesus are no more remarkable than that of the philosophers and pagan moralists. Celsus


admits that Jesus was crucified, but this is due to his evil and criminal life. Such a person could never be a Son of God or a Savior, according to Celsus. The resurrection is a myth and the alleged testimony to it is based on unreliable reports and hallucinations. In fact, the very concept of bodily resurrection is repugnant to Celsus (as it was to most Greeks, cf. Acts 17:32).

All of this obloquy in Christ makes any talk of incarnation ludicrous. Among other things, the transcendence of God would not allow it (Celsus's god is truly "wholly other"!). Celsus then proposes what Cook labels an "alternative Christology" (pp. 69-70): Jesus is a "pestilent fellow", a "sorcerer", a "corpse" (i.e. he never rose from the dead), even a "demon".

Attempts by Christians to demonstrate their messianic Savior from Old Testament prophecy are reduced to allegories by Celsus. Any use of the "stupid myths" of the Old Testament to prove the claims of Jesus Christ represent a reduction of the Hebrew Scriptures to literary and exemplaristic fictions.

Turning to Christians in Greco-Roman society, Celsus regards them as irrational, irreligious (they refuse to worship the gods) and antisocial (i.e., counter-cultural); as such, they should be persecuted—even executed. This last point leads some scholars to date Celsus's work to the persecution of Christians under the emperor Marcus Aurelius (ca. 177 A.D.).

Cook turns next to the most formidable critic of Christianity in the patristic era—Porphyry. Born perhaps around 234 A.D. in Palestine, Porphyry may have been exposed to (?even embraced) Christianity at one time. But his most famous work (Contra Christianos) is a meticulous attack on Christianity. He was a trained philosopher (tutored by Plotinus) and a capable polemicist.

If suggestions about the date of Porphyry's Against the Christians are correct (ca. 300 A.D.), the learned Neo-Platonist may have been preparing the way (? an apology for) the Great (Christian) Persecution under Diocletian (303 A.D.). The argument runs: Rome experienced a crisis of empire in the third century (barbarian invasions, social turmoil, economic downturns, etc.) which was attributed to disrespect for the traditional gods. Whom to blame? Porphyry alleges that since Jesus, the gods have not been honored. Thus Porphyry is moved to defend pagan traditions by connecting imperial malaise to


the advance of Christianity. His book sets the stage for a justification of Diocletian's vengeance.

Cook uses citations and summaries of Porphyry's work from Eusebius, Origen, Jerome and others. (No complete copy of Contra Christianos has survived Christian destruction of the work; even Harnack's Neue Fragmente des Werks des Porphyrius gegen die Christen (1921) is an eclectic compilation.)* Porphyry regards the Old Testament as wicked "myths." Christian use of the Old Testament is described as tropological (i.e., allegorical) in order to discover "mysteries" hidden in the plain sense of the text. Porphyry particularly faults Origen for allegorization—a charge which may give us pause, considering the source and its motivation. (Porphyry regards Origen as a traitor to "Greek learning" whose Christian convictions were a sojourn into "barbarism".)

The miracles of Jesus are "creations" of the gospel writers. Eternal punishment is absurd (especially to one, who in Neo-Platonic fashion, believes in the transmigration of souls). That Jesus is the only way to salvation is "incredible". Salvation, for Porphyry, is the return of purified (i.e., wise) souls to God; it is philosophical soteria. In fine, Cook's review demonstrates that much of Porphyry has been anticipated in Celsus, indicating a genre of pagan apologetic.

Cook proceeds next to Macarius Magnes (Apocriticus) wherein a dialogue between a Christian and a pagan is recounted on disputed questions regarding the New Testament. This material is a primary source of "pagan exegesis of the New Testament." Next our author turns to Hierocles and his Truth-Loving Discourse (written to Christians about the time of the Great Persecution). He concludes with Julian ("the Apostate"), Contra Galilaeos ("Against the Galilaeans").

The latter surveys the tragic "conversion" and apostasy of Rome's emperor (361-363 A.D.). His attraction to classic paganism was perhaps the last


* A new translation of the fragments is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press: Robert M. Berchman, Porphyry Against the Christians.


gasp of a culture fighting against the pricks. Christianity had been declared religio licita by Constantine (313 A.D.) and was slowly silencing the oracles and emptying the temples. Julian's book (as well as his embrace of Greco-Roman polytheism) was a final attempt to turn the tide. Cook provides an excellent summary of this important work: gospels as fiction; Jesus as a "mere man"; the resurrection narratives as contradictory; Logos Christology as antithetical to the Old Testament; Paul as a magician; baptism as a powerless ritual; worship of Jesus as worship of a corpse. All this "evil", Julian contrasts with the virtues and glories of paganism. If his last words are truly as they have been reported ("Thou hast conquered, O Galilean"), then Julian's apostasy was tragic and ironic.

Cook's conclusion (pp. 335-40) is a summary of the pagan apologetic juxtaposed with the Apostles' Creed. Here he measures pagan objections to Christianity by the early confessional definition of faith. At each point, the antithesis is evident. Paganism opposed every element of the Christian confession. It still does—whether in its Enlightenment guise or Modernist/Post-Modernist rags. One of the most arresting revelations of Cook's work is the similarity in attack upon the Scriptures which we find in these Greco-Roman opponents and the comparable views of those devoted to so-called "scientific" Biblical criticism. Indeed, "there is nothing new under the sun."


Antonia Tripolitis, Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001. 165 pp., paperback. ISBN: 0-8028-4913-X. $16.00.

Recent interest in the social, political and religious milieu of the New Testament has spawned a new approach in New Testament criticism called "social-scientific criticism." Using materials (written and in situ) from Greco-Roman localities, significant new insights into the culture of the Mediterranean Basin during the rise of Christianity have emerged. As religion was an integral part of that world, Tripolitis offers a primer in the varieties available. She surveys the history of the era (too briefly), then the Mystery Cults, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Middle Platonism, Mithraism, Hellenistic Judaism, Chris-


tianity and Gnosticism (arguments for pre-Christian Gnosticism are "conjectural," p. 120). She has chosen the "major players" as her focus, which means the reader will not find a discussion of the cult of Diana (Ephesus), the Cabiri (?Thessalonica) or the Vestal Virgins. Her organizing principle is the oikoumene of Alexander the Great, i.e., his world-changing Hellenism which produced a universal cosmology. From this cosmopolitan shift (away from indigenous nationalisms and tribalisms) a truly universal impetus was given to politics, culture and religion. The religions of the Hellenistic-Roman age are varieties of coping devices—how to cope with a large, fast-changing world. Each of these cults and philosophies is an attempt to guide the soul through the cosmos to "safe harbor" elsewhere. For some, "salvation" consists of knowledge (gnosis); others find refuge in secret rites (mysteries and Mithraism); still others resort to tradition (Philonic Judaism); while many resort to philosophy. Tripolitis regards Christianity as essentially a socio-religious movement born from apocalyptic Judaism. In her description (pp. 91-98), the creed of the followers of Jesus is an application of certain propositions to a new-found sense of community ("Christianity's most important benefit was its sense of community . . .", p. 147). This, of course, reduces Christianity to a contemporary form of horizontalism, as if in the 21st century we have not moved beyond analysis of Christianity in terms of 19th century religionsgeschichte. Certainly the absence of a discussion of the centrality of the incarnation and atoning death of Christ leaves the reader disappointed and Christianity less than adequately defined.

Thus, as a primer, the volume is useful. But our readers will be better served by the volume by Hans-Josef Klauck, The Religious Context of Early Christianity: A Guide to Graeco-Roman Religions (T & T Clark, 2000).


Andrew Purves, Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. 137 pp., paperback. ISBN: 0-664-22241-2. $16.95.

Andrew Purves is Hugh Thomson Kerr Professor of Pastoral Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. His concern in this book is the direction of


modern pastoral care. He says, "Biblical and theological perspectives . . . no longer shape the practice of much pastoral work. The modern pastoral care movement within the North American Protestant theological academy by and large revolves around psychological categories regarding human experience and symbolic interpretations about God" (p. 3). He further explains the situation by saying, "Modern pastoral theology is characterized largely by the study of what Anton T. Boisen, the founder of the Clinical Pastoral Education movement in the United States, called 'living human documents'—that is, the study of people, especially in their distress—rather than the study of biblical texts" (p. 85). This is illustrated in the writings of Seward Hiltner, the leading figure in the formation of the modern pastoral care movement. "Hiltner's inductive approach, following Boisen, saw the study of pastoral events and human experiences as the primary fonts of constructive theological inquiry" (p. 85).

Purves is calling for a change in this situation. He desires a return to what he calls the Classical Tradition in Pastoral Theology. For him "the classical pastoral writers—deconstruct our theological subjectivity and its concomitant pastoral anthropology by insisting on the capacity of Christian doctrine to really talk about God truthfully and the need to guide the souls of the people accordingly" (p. 3).

The bulk of this slim volume is then spent on the examination of the pastoral works of five men who are prominent in church history. There are two Greek fathers, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom; one Roman Pope, Gregory the Great; one reformer, Martin Bucer; and one Puritan, Richard Baxter. All these men wrote works that influenced pastors in their time and beyond.

I found very helpful the form that Purves uses in discussing each man. There is an introduction, followed by a brief biography; then a discussion of the major themes in each man's theology, followed by a summary of his pastoral theology. I especially appreciated the spelling out of the man's main theological emphasis during his ministry. This helped me to understand where his pastoral theology originated and where it developed. It also showed that Purves was not trying to have an amorphous classical unity without differentiation.


Indeed, we have in these men a wide variety of theological opinions. Gregory of Nazianzus's "images of the relationships between the soul and the body, and the pastor and the congregation, are drawn from neo-Platonism" and have a strong dualistic and hierarchical bent (p. 19). For John Chrysostom there was no salvation without the use of a priest. Purves states "he replaces the priesthood of Christ with the priesthood of the pastor/priest" (p. 47). Gregory the Great believed in prevenient grace that "enables and demands good works, for in salvation the human also must act" (p. 62). In this framework his pastoral care was the forerunner of the monastic orders of the Middle Ages. Even the title of his book indicates this in its Latin original, Liber regulae pastoralis. You might expect that the Puritan, Richard Baxter, would be different, but even his theology was flawed. "Baxter taught a doctrine of justification that contained elements of Roman, Reformed, and Arminian perspectives" (p. 102). The result for his famous work "The Reformed Pastor" was a method of pastoral care that "appears to be an exercise in compulsive overwork and a recipe for exhaustion" (p.95). (By the way, the word Reformed in the title does not refer to his theology, but his desire to see a changed minister).

Considering all of these differences, is there such a thing as a Classical Tradition? It is indeed the history of the church, but there is no unified theology in that tradition. From my way of thinking, it is wrong to appeal to this tradition to counter the Pastoral Theology of our generation. The only appeal that should be made is to the Scriptures themselves. The theology that informs our pastoral work must be a true Biblical theology. In the Bible, Christ says that he will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. He is the great shepherd of his sheep. He will gather his sheep. He will call under shepherds and use them to feed and tend the sheep. The power to do the task is to be found in the equipping of Christ and not in the effort we put forward.

In the progression of recommendations for pastors found in Purves' Classical Tradition, it seems to me that there is a substitution of emphasis on human dedication and effort of the worker for the human condition and need of the subject. This is not the word our generation needs to hear. Instead, there


should be the emphasis placed on Christ and his work as found in the Scriptures.

By contrast to the above, we find Martin Bucer. Purves says of him, "At all points his approach is expositional and deductive, attending not only to the letter of scripture, but also to the true spirit and the power of the Lord.—Thus, the emphasis always moves on to Christ's lordship over the church through the various ministries. Christ, alive and reigning—has and exercises all power and rule in the church and congregation" (p. 84). Now there is a man worth reading! The only problem is that his work, Von der waren Seelsorge, was written in German in April 1538 and has never been translated into English. Now there is a good doctoral project!!

—J. Peter Vosteen