I concluded my last reflection by suggesting that Campbell’s theoretical account of Justification occasionally accurately describes certain socio-political and ecclesial realities, although I am aware of at least two flaws in my argumentation. First, my ‘evidence’ is anecdotal and, second, neither Pat Robertson nor any other single individual are necessarily representative of all who adhere to the doctrine of Justification by faith. Campell argues that Justification theory leads predictably to ethically reprehensible conclusions. Pat Robertson’s suggestion that Haiti has recently suffered a devastating earthquake because her founders allegedly made a pact with the Devil is a case in point. The theory of Justification, as Campbell construes it, provides an implicit rationale for such claims.
But has Campbell construed the theory correctly? Douglas Moo raised this question at the recent Society of Biblical Literature session on Campbell’s book (the audio files of which are available here, courtesy of Andy Rowell). Moo suggested, among other things, that Campbell’s theory is a pastiche drawn from a variety of sources spanning several centuries. As such it incorporates elements that do not properly belong, including Campbell’s emphasis on retributive justice. While I think this is a valid criticism, I question the extent to which Justification theory retains its original ‘purity’ among the majority of adherents who, I assume, are not biblical scholars. Campbell’s theory may have the explanatory capability I have discussed at an anecdotal level precisely because the version of the theory with which many Christians are acquainted is just such a pastiche.
Next post in this series:
The Deliverance of God, Reflection 4: The Economy of Salvation