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Other Models of Salvation in Paul

I have been discussing various ways that Paul understands the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus for salvation, and have focused on the judicial and participationist models – mainly because these are the two that Paul most frequently appeals to (without calling them the judicial and participationist models!).   I need to clarify a few points before moving on to speak of yet other models that Paul appears to use. First, several readers have seemed to think that I have a personal relationship to these models.   Several have asked how I could possibly believe such a thing.  And one has asked what right I have to talk about “sin” if I’m not a Christian and so do not believe in sin.  So let me clear: I’m not affirming or denying anything Paul says in any of his writings.  I’m simply describing what it is he says.   Some people have trouble understanding the difference between description and prescription, but there’s a big difference. I remember back when I was a conservative evangelical at Princeton Theological [...]

2020-04-03T17:00:45-04:00May 1st, 2014|Paul and His Letters|

Comparison of Paul’s Two Principal Models of Salvation

I’ve been discussing how Paul understands the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection for salvation, and have done so by laying out as concisely as I could his two principal “models” of how salvation worked, the judicial and the participationist model. In this post I’ll make some brief concluding comments about the two models, in particular in relation to one another, again from my textbook on the New Testament. ************************************************************* 3. Comparison and Contrast of the Two Models Let me emphasize that the two models of salvation we have been looking at are ways of understanding something. They are not the thing itself. Paul's gospel is not "justification by faith" or "union with Christ." These are ways of reflecting on or thinking about his gospel. His gospel is God's act of salvation in Christ; the models are ways of conceptualizing how it worked. The way it worked differed according to which model Paul had in mind. In both of them, the problem is "sin." But in one, sin is an act of disobedience that a [...]

2020-04-03T17:00:53-04:00April 30th, 2014|Paul and His Letters|

Paul’s “Participationist” Model of Salvation

Yesterday I started explaining that Paul has different ways the he conceptualizes the act of salvation – how the death and resurrection of Christ restores a person to a right relationship with God. The judicial model that I laid out can be found in several of Paul’s letters, especially Romans and Galatians. But he has other ways of understanding how salvation works, other models involving Jesus’ death and resurrection. The other BIG one can be called the Participationist model. Here is what I say about it in my textbook on the New Testament: ********************************************************** 2. The Participationist Model. Most of us today have no trouble understanding how a judicial process can be seen as analogous to the act of salvation. The participationist model, however, is much harder to get our minds around. This is partly because it involves a way of thinking that is no longer prevalent in our culture. Under this second model the human problem is still called "sin," "sin" is still thought to lead to "death," and Christ's death and resurrection still [...]

2020-04-03T17:01:01-04:00April 29th, 2014|Paul and His Letters|

Paul’s “Judicial” Model of Salvation

I am currently in the middle of a thread discussing the significance of Paul to the history of early Christianity. So far I have been trying to argue that Paul is of utmost importance to the New Testament itself, but that it is very difficult to know how much of what we think of as Pauline theology (the doctrine of the atonement, for example) was *distinctive* of Paul (I doubt if he came up with the idea himself) and that there are some prominent features of Paul’s thought – e.g., the importance of Jesus’ resurrection – that he must have inherited from Christians before him. One of my ultimate points is going to be that whatever one thinks about Paul’s originality, it is clear that the gospel that he proclaimed looked very different from what Jesus himself taught. To get to that point, I have to deal a bit more with what it is that Paul proclaimed. Nowhere does Paul lay out his gospel message more clearly than in the book of Romans. The reason [...]

2020-04-03T17:01:11-04:00April 28th, 2014|Paul and His Letters|
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