"Благодать воинствующая": интервью с автором книги

Источник интервью: блог Майкла Бёрда на Patheos.com

Philip Ziegler (Aberdeen University) is the author of "Militant Grace: the Apocalyptic turn and the future of Christian theology".

Here is my interview with him about his book.

Hi Phil, it really looks like you are trying to indigenize Ernst Käsemann and J.L. Martyn into systematic theology. What do these two figures bring to theology which theologians need to take notice of?     

What I have found so striking in Käsemann and Martyn’s work on Paul is the way in which the understanding of divine salvation is reconceived. For example, there is much theological provocation in trying to take seriously the consequences of recognising salvation as a ‘three agent drama’, as Martyn puts it, in which God, human beings and the ‘anti-God powers’—think of ‘sin, death, and the devil’ as Paul’s triple shorthand here—are involved as God’s effective lordship is extended into a world where that lordship is actively contested by us and by those inimical powers that have, own and play us.  Neglect of this latter dimension is a commonplace, often baked into received accounts of salvation governed exclusively by themes of guilt, forgiveness and reconciliation between God and humanity. These two exegetes, together with a good many others among their students and readers, have helped put to me the necessity as a theologian of thinking afresh about grace as the power of divine rectification, and the priority of redemption over reconciliation in the logic of salvation.

My complaint about Martyn is that his “apocalyptic” reading of Paul has nothing to do with Jewish apocalypses and represents a brutal Barthian punctiliarity which relativizes God’s prior covenant history with his people Israel. Can Martyn be reconciled with a form of covenant theology even if Barthian rather than say the federal theology Calvin and Turretin?   

There’s a good bit packed into this claim and question!  Briefly—while I’m not sure it’s totally fair to say that such an apocalyptic reading of Paul has nothing to do with ancient Jewish apocalypses (here one might think of Martinus de Boer’s work to situate the distinctively Pauline way of thinking against the backdrop of such texts), it is fair to say that it’s not Martyn’s chief worry to make such a case. He is specifically ambitious to discern and to display the inner logic governing Paul’s thinking, especially in Galatians, and finds the modern term of art ‘apocalyptic’ useful to name what he espies.  Materially, what he finds there is Paul’s recognition of the world-shattering and world re-making reality of God’s saving advent in Christ that cuts across and upends all extant expectations and imaginings. It does not appear to me as surprising as it does to others, it seems, that everything should then be made and understood afresh relative to this ‘apocalypse’ of God in the crucified Nazarene. For me, it is the radicality and totality of the event itself—which means the death of the old and the advent of the new for which the crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God are the concrete performance—which must be registered. Not repair, not reform, not refurbishment, not a summons to restart on already extant terms, but rather the very advent of God for the sake of bringing all things to naught in order to make alive once again—that is the way. So we must ask, what kind of creature, what kind of covenant, what kind of community passes through dying with Christ and is given to emerge to new life again with him on this way?  Barth’s revision of the traditional doctrine of election, with its Christological concentration and mainspring, might well be thought to be one attempt to think out through the consequences of God’s saving apocalypse in Christ.

Can I also say that I honestly don’t know what the phrase ‘brutal Barthian punctiliarity’ might possibly have in view . . .

I love how you say that theology has an “eschatological register” and all theology is eschatological because it acknowledges “the finality, singularity, and unsurpassable effectiveness of the saving judgment of God in Jesus Christ.” What do we lose without this apocalyptic eschatological focus?

It is too quick and trite to say ‘everything’?

You make several compelling theses about the importance of apocalyptic for contemporary theology. Which is your favorite one and why?

Well, I ought to resist the demand and pick out a favorite from what I hope is a closely interrelated set of claims set out all-too-briefly in those six theses at the end of chapter two (p. 26f.). If you constrained me to emphasize one, I might stress the first thesis as the basis of the discovery that gives rise to all the rest: namely, the idea that the apocalyptic idiom of Paul represents ‘a distinctive and difficult idiom’ that is ‘uniquely adequate both to announce the full scope, depth, and radicality of the gospel of God, and to bespeak the actual and manifest contradiction of that gospel by the actuality of the times in which we live.’  It has been this insight that gave rise to the book and its programme, such as it is. I have been lead along by the thought that any theological account of the gospel must be fitted to do justice to this most radical witness to divine grace that Paul sets out. Trying to take responsibility for this claim is now the burden of my own work, and I suppose will become that of others who also find it compelling.

I was intrigued as to how you relate apocalyptic eschatology to anthropology. You find Käsemann helpful here. What does Käsemann bring to the table on this topic, especially when anthropology is such a buzz area at the moment?

We spent some very good weeks earlier this year in Aberdeen reading and discussing with theology and biblical studies students Susan Eastman’s recent book, Paul and the Person. I mention this because the question at the heart of her study—the idea that the self is for Paul a permeable reality and identity such that its environment and relationships are fundamentally constitutive of it (and that certain contemporary lines of thinking in cognitive science might offer suggestive analogies)—is one that I found strongly set forth in Käsemann in his idea, (first worked out in his dissertation on the ‘Body of Christ’ and subsequently developed), that the human being is a ‘piece of the world’ it inhabits.  Our very identities are forged in and by the world, such that in a world lorded over by powers inimical to God, we ourselves become not only their victims but also their complicit advocates: it is our world and we are of it. This means that the eschatological reclamation of the world for God’s effective lordship in Christ wins human beings with it thereby, as Käsemann puts it, they are a ‘stake’ in the contest of divine grace within the precincts of sin, death, and the devil. As Käsemann himself saw and stressed, this puts the social and the political realities of human existence right into the mix of our soteriological thinking, rather than leaving them as a late adjunct once we’ve worked out the central affair of how I, as an individual, am ‘saved’.

I was struck as to how you said, “Christian faith is, for this reason, always a matter of polemical doxology” in the sense of talking about faith as allegiance. Could you tease that out for me? You mention how in apocalyptic perspective that Christian discipleship should be conceived of “resistance and revolt” against the lordless powers of this age. What does that mean for us today?

On the field where the apocalypse of divine grace in Christ is winning the day, the business of the Christian is free and grateful witness and service to the Lord. In the midst of the absurd, but actual rear-guard action of the defeated inimical powers, such a life of doxology will inevitably be polemical as it is confronted by resistance (not least, my very own). I suppose that suffering that contradiction and responding to it with patient but active praise—which means simply the exercise of precisely that freedom for which we have been set free (Gal 5:1) in all its forms—is just the shape of discipleship.  The labour of preaching the Word and the discerning receipt of such preaching in Christian communities, involves the discernment of those concrete realities of our present existence which are parabolic of the new creation for which we hope, as well as parabolic of all that is inimical to it, expressions and outworkings of the lingering reign of death. This involves risking judgments in all fields of human life, not least the social and political though not exclusively these. I’m minded to think that theology as such cannot get ahead of this ongoing work of concrete discernment, but that its service here is to orient and encourage folks in this living labour of faith. Käsemann was keen to recommend the Huguenot slogan ‘resistez’ as a watchword over the whole of the Christian life for just this reason. So too, interestingly, did the elderly Barth make ‘revolt against the lordless powers’ a rubric for conceiving of Christian ethics.

How do Kierkegaard and Bonhoeffer help us to be apocalyptic theologians?

Both Kierkegaard and Bonhoeffer are in their own ways theologians of a radical divine grace that is adventitious and disruptive in Christ and that opens up a surprising and contentious freedom for Christian living in the modern world. They are this in no small part because they are readers of Paul, and students of his witness to the gospel.  Kierkegaard might be thought to major in thinking through the singularity of Christ and the newness of the new life he wins—think of texts of Philosophical Fragments and Practice in Christianity; and Bonhoeffer is a theologian of intense  Christological concentration, to be sure, for whom the whole course of Christ’s obedience is world re-making—think of the concept of ‘Christ reality’ [Christuswirklichkeit] that underpins his late ethics, e.g. There are, to be sure, important lessons to be learned from going to school with such thinkers for the possibilities and responsibilities of inhabiting Paul’s apocalyptic gospel today.

Michael Bird

Другие публикации на портале:

Еще 9