woensdag 29 juli 2015

The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament & Christian Theology

The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament & Christian Theology is written as a Festschrift to honor the 65th birthday of Max Turner, now professor emeritus of the London School of Theology. The outstanding New Testament scholarship of Turner has focused on Pneuma­to­logy and Christology. The Festschrift gathers articles on the Spirit and Christ by notable scholars including I. Howard Marshall, Donald Carson and Richard Bauckham. 
It is impossible to review all the twenty contributions. I restrict myself to the articles that I found particularly interesting, although this certainly has a subjective element. So do not think that the other articles are not worth to be read.
The opening article is written by James D.G. Dunn and is titled ‘The Lord, the Giver of Life’. Starting with the Old Testament Dunn notes that the Hebrew word רוּחַ means both ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’. The same is true for the Greek word πνευμα. Dunn rightly states that both in the Old and New Testament each function of the Spirit of God is an expression of the life-giving Spirit. The Spirit of life is both the Spirit of prophecy and the soteriological Spirit. The Spirit falling upon a man and giving him special power for a particular purpose is not really different from the indwelling Spirit who renews a person permanently.
When focusing on the gospel of John Dunn states that the Spirit was not a part of the experience of the disciples during Jesus’ pre-resurrection ministry. John makes us clear that the giving of the life-creating Spirit was the immediate and direct consequence of Jesus’ passion.
Dunn says that for John there was no difference between the disciples’ reception of the Hoy Spirit on the evening of day of the resurrection of Jesus and their commissioning and empowering for missions and ministry. He sees a real difference between Acts and John here, I would say that John teles­coped the events and that certainly for theological reasons, but that John and Acts do not contradict but supplement each other.
While Dunn stresses the discontinuity in the gospel of John with respect to the Holy Spirit and his work before and after the resurrection of Jesus, Cornelis Bennema speaks in his article about the giving of the Spirit in John 19-20 about an unfolding relationship. I find his approach more satisfying. Regarding the phrase in John 7:39b ‘the Spirit was not yet’ Bennema says that it does not refer to the Spirit’s inactivity, but to the degree that disciples of Jesus could experience the Spirit before the resurrection of Jesus.
I found the view of Bennema convincing that πνευμα in John 19:30 must be seen also as an allusion to the Holy Spirit. The ‘not yet’ of John 7:39b has already been removed in John 19:30, but only in John 20:22 the Spirit was actually given. While most scholars assume that the giving of the Spirit is one event, Bennema argues that the giving of the Spirit must be seen as a process that runs parallel to, and is step with, the process of Jesus’ glorification.
The article of Robert P. Menzies is devoted to the theme of the persecuted prophets in Luke’s two volume work. Persecution is a major theme in this work. Luke makes clear that perse­cu­tion has always been the portion of true prophets. For Luke every follower of Jesus is at least potentially a prophet. Luke consistently presents the Holy Spirit as the source of prophetic inspiration. Although Luke has related to us the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as a unique event, he already calls our attention to the prophetic work of the Spirit in the life of people who lived in the time just before Jesus was born.
Menzies emphasizes the model function of the book of Acts. I agree with him, but would also say that Pentecost is a unique event that marks the transition of the old to the new dispensation. The giving of the Spirit narrated in Acts to the Samaritans, Cornelius and the followers of John the Baptist must be seen as extension of Pentecost. In all this cases we see the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament dispensation. But certainly the book of Acts is a model for all coming gene­ra­tions of believers in Christ that following him involves in principle suffering. The willingness to suffer for Christ is one of the marks of a true Christian.
Robert W. Wall has titled his contribution on Titus 3:5b-6 ‘Salvation Bath by the Spirit’. Wall sees the Pastoral Epistles as a legitimate and for the church of all ages very important and normative interpretation of the legacy of Paul. I would argue that the arguments against the authorship of Paul himself are not conclusive. In distinction to the other letters these letters are letters of instruction for Paul’s assistants in the apostolic ministry. The distinct theological accents can be explained in this way.
Besides the use of secretaries this is also the explanation for the difference language between the Pastoral Epistles and other letters of Paul. When we reckon with the possibility that Paul wrote at least two (1 Timothy and Titus) of the Pastoral Epistles during his third missionary journey we get a complete other view on Paul’s theology than is usually given. For Wall the question of authorship is only a side-path because he focuses on the content of Titus 3:5b-6 in its canonical setting.
Wall calls attention for the fact that just as in Romans 5:5 the verb εκχεω is used in Titus 3:6. There is certainly a correlation between both passages, but besides that Titus 3:6 alludes to a Pentecost tradition between Acts 2. The verb εκχεω is the main verb of the prophecy of Joel quoted in Acts 2. While in the LXX of Joel 3:1 and in Acts 2:17 the future tense is used, we have in Titus 3:6 the aorist.
Every true believer has received the Holy Spirit. The phrase ‘by Jesus Christ our Savior’ points to close connection of the Spirit and Christ in Pauline theo­logy. The preposition δια points in accordance with the witness of Acts to the fact that the crucified and resurrected Jesus is the agent of the outpouring of the Spirit.
Wall rightly states that we see behind Titus 3:5b-6 a Trinitarian conception of salvation. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit leads to rebirth and renewal. Certainly Titus 3:5b-6 alludes to water baptism. But water baptism is not efficient without the outpouring of the Spirit. It is just a seal and symbol of it. When Wall says that the grammar of Titus focuses the apocalypse of God’ salvation upon the Spirit’s bath of rebirth and renewal rather than the traditional Pauline formulation of justification, I cannot agree.
Not only here in Titus, but also in the letter to the Romans Paul makes clear that we have misunderstood his message, when we separates God’s pardon of sin and our purity form sin. For Romans I point to the relationship between Romans 5 and 6.
The contribution of Veli-Matti Kärkäinen ‘By Washing of Rege-neration and Renewal of Spirit’ is an article in the field of systematic theology that is closely related in content to the exe­getical article of Wall. Veli-Matti Kärkäinen criticizes both the understanding of the Reformers with regard justification and gives an interpretation of Luther that puts him closer to Eastern Orthodoxy. Justification argues Kärkäinen means for Luther also participation.
Because of the many issues involved about the content of this one article a whole book could be written. I just make a few remarks. Certainly Luther was less systematic than his close friend Melanch-thon and then a later Reformer as Calvin. I completely agree that Luther related justification to union with Christ. Kärkäinen does not deny the forsenic element in Luther’s doctrine of justification, but argues that Luther’s main emphasis participation in God through the indwelling of Christ through the Spirit.
I think this is a distortion of the theology of Luther. It is true that for Luther a believer justified by faith also acts just, but here is important that the saved sinner is both righteous and a sinner. That is the reason that Luther stresses again and again that the final consolation of a believer is what he called the alien righteousness of Christ that can only be found outside the believer, although it consolation is given to the believer by the working of the Spirit.
It seems to me that Kärkäinen more reacts to later Protestant theology than to the theology of the first generations Reformers. That is true both for Luther and Calvin. He seems not to have noticed that for Calvin it was very fundamental that God´s grace is what he called twofold (duplex gratia). Justification and sancti-fication are for Calvin inseparably related and are both fruits of the mystical union with Christ created and sustained by the Holy Spirit. It is remar­kable that in book III of his opus magnum The Institutes, the book devoted to the Holy Spirit and his work, Calvin first speaks about sanctification and only later about justification.
Calvin could do that without diminishing in any way the importance he contributed to the doctrine of justification, because as I noticed both justification and sanctification flow simul­ta­neously from the union with Christ. He wanted to stress in this way that the Reformed doctrine of justification is not meant to diminish the importance of sanctification. His second reason was that although every believer is completely justified, we experience and feel (I want to stress these words) during our whole life the significance of complete justification because as believers we fail every day. I think that these accents are extremely important and valuable although they are often neglected not only by believers and theologians who do not have a special bound with Calvin, but also by them who call themselves Reformed or Calvinist.
Coming back to Kärkäinen, Kärkäinen is right that the Reformed doctrine of justification was developed in a certain context. But I would stress that the significance they saw in the distinction between law and gospel is more than just contextual to the discussion of the sixteenth century. It has to do with the fact that the law cannot be fulfilled by man and this insight is one of the cornerstones of the message of Paul.
This makes plain why Paul speaks so antithetically about the law and its works on the one side and grace and faith at the other side, although certainly also other factors, not in the least place ecclesiastical factors, are involved. I would say - and that is in the line both of Luther and Calvin, although the way put it is perhaps more, that we need the Holy Spirit to distinguish in a right way law and gospel. And it is the Holy Spirit who not only renews us, but feels us with joy, sometimes joy unspeakable, about the amazing wonder of being declared righteousness only on account of the merits of Christ.

The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament & Christian Theology, ed. I. Howard Marshall, Volker Rabens and Cornelis Bennema, Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans 2012. Pp. 367. Paperback. $60,-- . ISBN 978-0-8028-6753-7.