Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Coming out Christian


  1. Steve, maybe you'd like to help me. I've been in a discussion with a Universalist on facebook and I didn't know how to respond to one of his points. What could you say to the following? It's regarding 1 Cor. 15:22. The Universalist wrote:

    //Yes, that is the objection to v22 I am most accustomed to hearing. I thought maybe I hadn’t heard it yet here because you knew it didn’t work. But to be clear: it doesn’t work.

    In order for v22 to be describing two different groups, we need the prepositional phrases (“in Adam”/“in Christ”) to be operating adjectivally and modifying the “alls.” If that’s what was happening, then the text would be describing two different groups—one group in Adam, all of whom die, and another group in Christ, all of whom will be made alive.

    The trouble is that prepositional phrases are not adjectival and are not therefore modifying the “all’s.” They are adverbial, modifying the respective verbs (“die”/“will be made alive”). We know this decisively in the first place because of placement, and additionally (superfluously) because when Paul revisits the idea in v49, we see unambiguously that he has the same group of people in mind.

    What these details mean is that the “alls” remain unmodified, and thus, due to the parallel structure, coextensive. So all those who die in Adam (uncontroversially in Christianity literally all human persons) are the same all who will be made alive in Christ (thus again literally all human persons). So the “two groups” interpretation won’t do.//

    Thanks in advance, if you can help.

    1. i) That's squeezes too much out of one pithy sentence. For instance, Paul doesn't actually think all humans die, since in the very same chapter he says those who happen to be alive when Jesus returns will not undergo death.

      ii) Why do most humans die? Because, according to Paul, all humans are Adam's posterity, and they die by virtue of their relationship to Adam.

      So the parallel thought is that whoever is raised will be raised by virtue of their relationship to Christ.

      iii) In addition, Paul is writing to a church. To professing Christians. So Paul's original audience would understand "in Christ" to be synonymous with Christians. "In Christ" is a stock Pauline formula for Christians.

    2. Thanks for the input, Steve. That really helps. I know you could have said more, but I know you're always busy reading or responding to something. I really appreciate the succinct but great comments and observations. Thanks again!