Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Just judgment

Several observations are in order. In the first place, one wonders what has happened to the right of the Creator over the human creature living in contention with him, as Käsemann rightly has underscored. Campbell somehow loses from view the understanding that he himself later articulates, namely, that God’s wrath expresses divine benevolence, the rejection of evil and the deliverance of those oppressed by it (p. 930). “Sin” is present in this world only as it is embodied in human beings and their deeds. The biblical, and consequently Christian expectation of a final judgment is the hope for the rectification of all things. To say that Protestant theology (in Campbell’s terms, “Justification”) can offer no coherent protest in relation to the Holocaust (p. 206) is blatantly false. Quite the opposite: it is Campbell’s proposal of transformation without judgment that fails the test. It is not enough to hope that the perpetrators at Auschwitz should be transformed. There has to be an accounting for their deeds. One can hardly read the Psalmists without seeing their hope for vindication and justice. Paul has certainly done so, and richly cites them, particularly in the catena of Rom 3:10–18. The wonder of it all is that God deigned in Christ to humble himself and become the victim of our violence: the feet that are swift to shed blood, shed his blood (Rom 3:15, 25). In Christ’s cross and resurrection, our violent rejection of both God and our neighbor meet with judgment—and forgiveness. Indeed, there can be no forgiveness where there is no judgment.


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