Archive for November 5th, 2009

A Foretaste of my Review of Campbell’s “Deliverance of God” (2)

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Campbell on the Nonviolent Paul

One of the real gems in The Deliverance of God is an excursus entitled “The Case—Briefly—against Coercive Violence in Paul” (pp. 89-94). It is offered in as an argument for the superiority of Campbell’s “alternative theory” to “Justification theory” because the latter leads to coercion and violent punishment. (Bear with me if you are not so sure about that.)

Campbell makes six main points:

1. The cross, the center of Paul’s soteriology, is noncoercive and nonviolent. Those who participate in Christ participate in his nonviolent reaction to injustice.

2. Despite their sinfulness, Paul views non-Christians essentially benevolently. He is fundamentally not interested in retributive justice for them.

3. Paul’s attitude is especially important given his violent past, which, in Christ, he has repudiated.

4. Paul never uses coercion in his evangelism.

5. Paul repudiates vengeance by Christians.

6. Paul reinterprets military images metaphorically.

It is about time that NT scholars start taking Paul’s perspective on violence and nonviolence seriously! I have made some similar arguments in chapter four of my book Inhabiting the Cruciform God, though there I focus more on the role of the resurrection in Paul’s transformation and the resulting ethic, and also, more briefly, in Reading Paul.