Right on the heels of my post on Monday about rethinking our approach to salvation, Daniel Kirk said something very similar, raising an issue of scholarship I’ve mentioned here before: the question over whether Paul talks about salvation through faith in Christ or salvation through the faith of Christ.
One of those is the foundation for classic soterian thought – have faith in Christ, and you’re in, no followup necessary – the other calls us to a real, lasting response.
As Kirk writes: “The idea that we’re justified by our own faith in Christ is part of a larger way of construing Christian identity in terms of believing the right things about God.”
On the other hand, if our justification is completely outside of our ability, then – perhaps counterintuitively – the question becomes: How do we respond to this overwhelming act of grace?
Paul is a narrative theologian. He tells the saving story of Jesus. And he invites his congregations into it. … By decentering our faithful response, the faithfulness of God in Christ can return to center stage. We can being to creatively reimagine what it means to be the faithful people of God, not as those who believe a certain list in a shared statement of belief, but those who are active participants in the saving story of the crucified Christ.
What is the saving story of the crucified Christ? Scot McKnight argues, and I agree, that it’s the story Jesus claims for himself in Luke 4:
16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. 17 The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
19 and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
20 He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. 21 He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.”
Good news to the poor, release of the prisoners, sight to the blind, liberation of the oppressed and proclamation of the Lord’s favor.
That’s the saving story of Jesus, and it’s the story he calls us to join him in living out – our response to his faithfulness.