The Gift and Its Obligations

Great quote from John Barclay’s essay. Thanks, Tim.

Faith Improvised

Many Christians have trouble with the paradox in Paul whereby salvation is both a gift and involves obligations. Salvation as divine gift makes sense, but the demand for human response raises the specter of “works righteousness.”

Some solutions to this apparent contradiction diminish the human agent (“it’s not really you acting, but the Spirit”) in some way that does violence to the character of Paul’s texts. Others stress the passivity of the human agent’s reception of the gift in ways that overshadow the attendant obligations.

I suspect that this is an ongoing theological problem because of the conceptual frames in which we wrestle with the tension between divine and human action (e.g., human action must in some way marginalize divine action).

The relation of divine and human action is one of many issues riding under the surface throughout the essays in the fascinating volume Apocalyptic Paul. Reckoning with this tension (between…

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