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Cruciformity as Theoformity

More good stuff from Michael Gorman’s new book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God:

To be more specific, Paul has not two soteriological models (juridical and participationist) but one, justification by co-crucifixion, meaning restoration to right covenantal relations with God and others by participation in Christ’s quintessential covenantal act of faith and love on the cross; this one act fulfilled by of the “vertical” and “horizontal” requirements of the Law, such that those who participate in it experience the same life-giving fulfillment of the Law and therein begin the paradoxical, christologically grounded process of resurrection through death. That is, they have been initiated into the process of conformity to the crucified Christ (cruciformity, Christification), who is the image of God–and thus the process of theoformity, or theosis.” (p. 45)


  1. Wilson wrote:

    So does Gorman give a distinction between justification as participation and justification as co-crucifixion, because the phrasing of the first sentence of this passage seems to set that up (i.e., Paul is doing something different from what the old tropes (juridical and participationist) say he is doing).

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    For Gorman (and Paul as far as I’m concerned) justification is our Spirit-effected participation in Christ’s death and resurrection. This is summarized by his phrase “co-crucifixion.”

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  3. Dave wrote:

    I haven’t read hardly any Gorman, but the quotes you’ve posted so far seem to indicate that he’s going beyond the dichotomies of the fuss over “new perspectives.”

    I would imagine that proponents of the juridical view might still disagree with Gorman here, because it doesn’t line up with substitutionary atonement. (I do not agree with this view, for what it’s worth).

    I’m curious how Gorman compares to Wright or Piper. Those are only two names, but they’ve carried the discussion in the small context of my class on Paul this semester, mostly because we didn’t read much else (well, really we only read Wright, but some friends went to Piper for a different viewpoint.

    Still, I don’t want to try to reduce this to whether Gorman is agreeing with a new perspective thinker, etc etc, because it takes away the bluntness of his Bonhoeffer-like analogy.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, its definitely about getting beyond that kind of fuss and moving into substantial theological readings of Paul. Hence all the stuff abut kenosis and theosis, which is excellent.

    He agrees largely with Richard Hays and Douglas Campbell on Pauline interpretation if that gives you an idea. And I think his proposal of justification by co-crucifixion is just a really well-articulated and simple way of encapsulating Paul’s gospel. And its certainly less awkward in description than Douglas Campbell’s similar (and also excellent) proposal of “pneumatologically participatory martyrological eschatology” (PPME) as the way to describe Paul’s gospel.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  5. kim fabricius wrote:

    Cf. Tom Wright in his recent Justification (2009): “‘being in Christ’ … is rooted in, and fully dovetails with, the doctrine of justification. It is not the case, in other words, that one has to choose between ‘justification by faith’ and ‘being in Christ’ as the ‘centre’ of Paul’s thought” (p. 201). Add Gorman’s point about the “covenantal” and this all sounds very Wright-like.

    Three questions: (1) If “co-crucifixion”, then “co-resurrection” too, with a distinction in the tenses (cf. Romans 6:5)? If the answer to (1) is Yes, then (2): Does “sanctification” come into play at this point (= “Christification”?); and, with Barth, are they – justification and sanctification – “two different aspects of the one saving event” (CD IV/2, p. 503)? And if the answer to (2) is Yes, then (3): Is “participation” the term that comprehends both?

    Thinking out loud. Anyway, thanks for the heads-up – just bought the book!

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink
  6. Halden wrote:

    Kim, yes indeed Gorman is very Wright-like as you say. In response to your questions 1) Gorman actually makes the correlation as:


    Thus our faith is an actual dying with Christ and our justification is our resurrection with Christ (all by the Spirit). This, I think, Helpfully makes sense of Rom 4:25 “He was raised for our justification.”

    2) Sanctification and justification are indeed for Gorman two sides of the same event.

    3) For Gorman the term is actually theosis, which is, of course participation in God, but it is construed specifically along the lines of his whole theology of cruciformity. Being conformed to Christ’s cross is identical with being conformed to God (theoformity), which, as such is theosis, being made like God through union with Christ in the Spirit.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  7. Dave wrote:

    “I haven’t read hardly any…”

    Wow, it must be finals week. Nice double negative, there. Actually I’m not even sure what kind of grammatical nightmare that is.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  8. Halden wrote:

    This an ungood grammar friendly zone, brosephus.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  9. Dave wrote:

    Thanks Halden for the clarification and Kim for the quotes from the new Wright book. I want to get to that book eventually, but I have to confess that I was never really at odds with Wright’s articulation of justification in the 2005 book Paul:In Fresh Perspective. It seems like Wright is aiming at a more thorough articulation of his understanding of justification than a directed response to Piper.

    I would describe my thinking on Paul as eschatological. Using the example of Paul: In Fresh Perspective, I think the book really turns on Wright’s chapter “Messiah and Apocalyptic,” and thus I read Paul through an eschatological lens, if you will.

    I’m more familiar with Hays than Stewart, but I think Stewart is coming out with a massive book on an eschatological reading of justification in Paul.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  10. Wilson wrote:

    So Gorman articulates a theology of participation under the rubric of co-crucifixion? I am only asking for clarity because of the strawmen that are often built around the language of ‘participation’, followed by those same straw-builders just adding a qualifier or two to the word and thinking that that makes it kosher and completely different from any previous iterations of ‘participation’.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  11. Halden wrote:

    I’m not quite sure what your question means here. What other iterations are you referring to here?

    But yes, Gorman is, quite explicitly talking about participation in Christ as co-crucifixion a la Gal 2:20.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  12. Wilson wrote:

    I mean Platonism. Sorry if I was unclear in my question. Participation and CruciFORM is Platonic language (or, that language has historically been linked to Platonism even people who use it are not knowingly Platonists). The point I was trying to get to was whether Gorman tries to hide the history of the language, say his use is new, or embrace, or be indifferent to it. Campbell and Hays both use similar language quite proudly (there’s coming out of Barth), though they both seem to hedge against Platonic thinking even if they are using some Platonic thinking, and I am just curious if Gorman does the same. It could be a complete non-issue.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  13. bruce hamill wrote:

    Thanks for heads up on this book. It looks like what I think. I would second Wilson’s comment that the language of ‘form’ and ‘formation’ and ‘participation’ need a historical and trinitarian spelling out. Does Gorman do that?

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink
  14. Halden wrote:

    Sorry to neglect that question. Clearly Gorman does not intend “participation” to be taken in a Platonic way, at least not in any philosophically significant sense. Rather he fills out the term in terms of Paul’s doctrine of the Trinity. This is especially clear in his chapter on Holiness as Theosis.

    Participation, at least I as I see it in the book is understood as relational union between humans and the Triune God which takes place in our Spirit-effected conformity to the qualities of the crucified Christ who is the self-revelation of the eternal reality of God. Hence “cruciformity=theoformity.”

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

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