|English: Their are thousands of artworks created in the art world depicting St Paul. This painting was created by the famous artist called Rembrandt. It hangs on the walls of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The World or the Individual?
“The theological equivalent of supposing that the sun goes round the earth is the belief that the whole of Christian truth is all about me and my salvation.” *
The crux of a debate between two respected Christian theologians, about justification, is summed up in the above statement by one of them.*
Tendencies of theologians to appear to be quarreling or nitpicking estrange many simple people who want the plain truth about the essentials.
That’s why, as a simple layperson, I think of words like those from John’s gospel:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. --John 3:16
There we have it spelled out, truly beautiful because it is true... God’s love, Love's object, Love's Gift; accepting the Gift, and thereby crossing over the perishing gap of unbelief in order to have Life, which is in God through Christ Jesus, His beloved Son.
God has given this teaching, as all of scripture, from His Son’s own lips, to and for the world and to and for individual persons.
Therefore, why the debate about justification in this point? Are not the world and individuals samely included in this salvation through Christ of the Cross and Resurrection? If not, what is the “world” that is to be saved is apart from the individual persons in it, the “whosoever”s? Are not both N. T. Wright and John Piper, then, the two differing theologians, correctly, yet differently, interpreting Paul’s teaching on justification? Is not salvation about God’s Gift to the world and including its working out individually, for the “whosoever” people?
My view sounds simplistic; yet I believe it is truly correct. I have not, as has Wright, spent 35 years studying the writings of the apostle Paul in depth, in Aramaic or Greek versions, or in English translation. I have not equaled Piper’s study either.
The beauty of Christ, the Son, the Teacher, is that He gave those words first to simple people. Intimately.
Theologians like Wright and Piper study carefully, out of their sense of deep responsibility to teach correctly.
And we, as well, need to read and to think for ourselves, applying the minds and hearts that God has given to us, individually and across the entire world.
In these days where I live (USA), churches of different names often appear to be more concerned with numbers—growth, attendance, and money—than with the chief mission of exalting Christ, with preaching the Word in season and out of season, with continuing against the tide of the world’s changing scene. Each of us is called of God to grasp the Gift of salvation for ourselves as we live in Christ, the risen Lord.
Others can debate, mindful not to get lost in it or because of it. The days are shortened. The time is short.
*Source of quote: N. T. Wright, e-book page 23, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, Intervarsity Press, author’s copyright 2009.
Copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers