Thursday, May 03, 2007
Pauline Theology is Primarily -Theological- not Primarily -Christological-
Nearly all modern mainstream scholarship has claimed Paul to be primarily Christological above all else; which, although in some regards is true and vitally important its missed something quite substantial: Paul is not primarily Christological...he is primarily theological! Paul's focus is not Christ at the expense of the Trinity, but Christ to the extent that he operates in and expounds the Trinity...Paul's focus is God, three in one....working inseparably together, mutually indwelling eachother...this has got to be Paul's focus...not just Christ.
In nearly all of Paul's introductions to theologies, prayers, prologues, epilogues, grace givings, and doxologies there is a huge intertwining of the work and glory of the Trinity. So in Rom. 1:1-7 The Gospel of God is of the raising of Jesus ( v.3) by His Father (vv.2,4,7) through the Spirit (v.4). Or Rom. 5:1-5 - we are justified through faith in Jesus (v.1) sealed in the Spirit (v.5) so we have peace with God (v.1). Or Rom. 8:1-4 - God sent His own Son (v.3) so that through Jesus ( vv.1-2) the Spirit sets us free (v.2). <- Note, all this is simply going through Romans...but its all the way through Paul! Its not just that Paul teaches the Trinity, but its that Pauls theology is profoundly Trinitarian over and above all else and all His theology falls under the governance of the three in God.
I guess a lot of people would agree with that until you start to apply it; I've been studying 1 Corinthians 12 for the past few weeks and if you take thiis particular section into play with this Trinitarian reading in mind: 1 Cor. 12 - The unity of the body and giving of the gifts and ordering of the church is done by who? The Spirit, in order to Build the Body of Christ is the classic view... and in some ways this is right, but its oh so much deeper than this...the Spirit gives -> what he gives builds the body of Christ....that just seems to imply a very distinct separation between Spirit and Son...and the emphasis ends up with the Son ( i.e. primarily Christological). However, lets read with a little more emphasis on some unfortunately neglected verses:
'There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.'
(The Lord is of course the Lord Jesus)...So the gifts which edify come through the Spirit; cool, but the services which edify the church and build it come through the Son too (i.e. not just the Spirit)...and all this is worked together by God...and he arranged all the parts just as he wanted them to be ( v.18) and He too has combined the members to order their honour (v.24). So all three members of the Trinity are involved in the equipping of the Church...not just the Spirit.
But what about the Second part? Is the equipping for edification just for the honour of the Son like the classic interpretation suggests? Well no it can't be...v.7 says that the manifestation of The Spirit is given ...not the Son...but the Spirit....the Spirit is to be manifested, to be seen...and when God (in Spirit in this case) reveals himself he must be responded to appropriately! The Spirit is to be seen, to be honored, to be glorified as the divine, Christ-exalting, gift-giving, grace-sustaining, church-loving, sovereign ( v.11) God that He is! And so to is the first member of the Trinity, for God arranged just as he wanted (v.18), so the church is a reflection of His desired will for His worshippers...therefore its set up for His praise and glory!
This is profound! All the members of the Trinity are distinct, they all have the subtleties of their tasks...but yet they are all worthy of direct Glory an Adoration together as the one perfect spotless divine God. King of kings and majesty on high! Christ indeed is to be highly exalted, and I do believe that is the primary role of the Spirit, but oh to make this Paul's primary focus at the expense of the holistic worship of our Triune salvation-effective God is just madness! But this is what so many people do! Its incredible. God is God! God as Trinity is to be magnified together in Trinity as such, and that makes life in His church incredible! The threefold focus is a beautiful aim...and a lot more actuate than a single point.
Paul is primarily THEO-logical, not Christological