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Against Cheap Justification

Michael Gorman’s new book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology is just a goldmine. Mike was kind enough to send me a copy, so today I’ll be posting a smattering of quotes and thoughts from my reading of the book thus far. At the center of the book is Gorman’s supremely helpful proposal of how to understand the doctrine of justification in Paul. According to Gorman, the best way to understand the much-debated doctrine of justification by faith is to understand it as “justification by co-crucifixion.” In contrast to the constant squabbles, particularly amongst those who claim the name “reformed”, Gorman calls us toward Paul’s far more radical doctrine of “costly justification”:

There have always been legitimate theological arguments about justification, as well as less noble but understandable interconfessional squabbles. But it may also be the case that there is another, more subtle (and thus more dangerous) theological reason for at least some aspects of the current situation regarding justification. To paraphrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer, parts of the Christian church have become enamoured with cheap justification. Cheap justification is justification without justice, faith without love, declaration without transformation.” (p. 41)

One Comment

  1. David Matcham wrote:

    Without having read the book I suppose that he is aiming at the idea of co-crucifixtion in the same sense that Christ warns us to consider the cost of discipleship, to take up our cross and follow him. Or is it a reading of Colossians 1: 24, of Paul filling up in his flesh what is lacking in the affliction of Christ?
    There is of course a lot of biblical evidence that Christ’s crucifixion isn’t just an event external to us as christians, but one that, through eucharist and baptism and our own discipleship, we partake in.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

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