Summary of Inhabiting the Cruciform God (pt. 3)

Here’s the final intallment of my brief summary of the new book.

Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul's Narrative Soteriology

Chapter 3. “You Shall be Cruciform for I am Cruciform”: Paul’s Trinitarian Reconstruction of Holiness as Theosis. Paul redefines holiness as countercultural participation in and conformity to the cruciform character of the triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit. Holiness is not a supplement to justification but the actualization of justification, and may be more appropriately termed theosis.


~ “Cruciform holiness stands in marked contrast to key Roman values (which can infiltrate the body of Christ), especially those values associated with the libertine and status-seeking lifestyle of the elite, and those related to the power and domination predicated of imperial divinity. This cruciform holiness means, in sum, becoming like Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son, and thus also becoming like God—for God is Christ-like…. Paul speaks to the ancient (and contemporary) desire for God-likeness by claiming that [it occurs] through participation in Christ’s death and resurrection” (p. 124)


Chapter 4. “While We Were Enemies”: Paul, the Resurrection, and the End of Violence.” Nonviolence is one of the essential marks of participating in the life of the kenotic, cruciform God revealed in the gospel of Christ’s cross and resurrection and narrated by Paul. Paul’s own conversion when he met the resurrected Jesus included turning away from justification by exclusion and zealous violence, the mode of justification seen in Phinehas, to justification by participation in the inclusive death of the Messiah.


~ “Because of the resurrection of Christ, Paul comes to see the cross, not merely as a means of death, but as a means of life. He also sees Christ’s resurrection by God as God’s pronouncement that covenant fidelity, justification, holiness, and opposition to evil are not achieved by the infliction of violence and death but by the absorption of violence and death. For Paul, the communities to which he wrote, and us, his gospel of cross and resurrection defines the ongoing identity of Christ present among us and thus a fundamental characteristic of cruciform existence in Christ: a life of nonviolence and reconciliation. That is, for Paul, this kind of life is an integral part of his vision of justification and of participatory holiness—theosis.” (p. 130)


Conclusion: Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Theosis as Paul’s Narrative Soteriology. The conclusion summarizes the book, concludes that theosis is the center of Paul’s theology, and shows how cruciformity (radical, costly discipleship) and participation/theosis appear also in Bonhoeffer’s interpretation of Paul in [The Cost of] Discipleship.


~ “To describe Paul’s soteriology as theosis, and to posit it as the focus — or even the center — of his theology, does not… “over-spiritualize” salvation and thereby de-politicize it. Such a conclusion, which constructs a dichotomy where Paul sees only a unity,  would be possible only if one were to ignore the argument of this book from chapter one to the conclusion. Furthermore, the use of the term theosis does not remove salvation from the larger narrative and divine project to which the Scriptures of Israel and the Pauline letters bear witness.” (p. 172)

2 Responses to “Summary of Inhabiting the Cruciform God (pt. 3)”

  1. X-Cathedra says:

    Dr. Gorman,

    Just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation yesterday and I enthusiastically support your reading of Paul and theosis. Can’t wait to read the argument in full!

    Pax Christi,

  2. MJG says:

    Thanks for coming, Patrick.

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