Monday, 24 September 2012

Faith or Faithfulness? The Votes are in

Having just finished, after a very long time[1], The Faith of Jesus Christ the verdict is in. On the question of whether pistis christou should be translated as "the faithfulness of Christ" or "faith in Christ" it seems that the majority of these scholars are in favour of the former. Admittedly this debate isn't a democracy and neither is this a sufficiently wide sample group from which to develop a proposition that "most scholars believe." Nevertheless, the book presents more arguments for both sides (and some third ways) than the average lay reader would have encountered. There's a lot to chew on in these pages.

I especially liked the closing essay by Ben Myers. Written for easy reading without diluting the content, it summarises much of Barth's comments on the debate and probably was amongst the most persuasive in the book. Loosely speaking the position is that all righteousness comes from God and it is God's faithfulness that makes it possible for humanity to be saved and thereby triggers faith and faithfulness in humanity.

OK, so it's loosely speaking.

Despite my trivialising of Barth, this is close to the position that I also end up taking now that I've read the book. There appears to be enough grammatical evidence, textual evidence and contextual evidence to warrant it. The effort of salvation is on the part of God, and it provokes a response of faith. The response is not the means of salvation, but the acknowledgement of it.


Notes
1. With several months of not even touching the book at all because I relocated across the country.
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