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Pro Ecclesia Vol 22-N2

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Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. It seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church's unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion. Members of its advisory council represent communities committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, ecumenical dogmatic teaching and the structural continuity of the church, and are themselves dedicated to maintaining and invigorating these commitments. The journal publishes biblical, liturgical, historical and doctrinal articles that promote or illumine its purposes.

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Paul’s Apocalyptic Politics

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Paul’s Apocalyptic Politics

Douglas A. Campbell

Introduction

The heart of this article is an account of Paul’s “apocalyptic politics.” It makes a brief set of claims about what I take to be the best way to describe Paul’s theology, articulating and advocating an apocalyptic account. (For those unaccustomed to Pauline scholarly parlance, the signifier “apocalyptic” means in this sense privileging the views of J. Louis [Lou] Martyn in relation to Paul’s theological interpretation.) My account will then argue, a little more unusually, that a certain distinctive and rather vigorous political posture is directly implicit within this apocalyptic view—a “politics of peace” familiar elsewhere to ethicists from the work of (i.a.) John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas. But before presenting this brief, programmatic account of the nature of Paul’s gospel and its pacific politics, it seems best to introduce it by way of a short survey of the state of the field. Where should my somewhat controversial recommendations be located in relation to the broader conversation concerning Paul and political concerns? Somewhat unfortunately, however, it seems that no neat survey of this conversation is really possible; the current situation is arguably confused, confusing, and in many respects inadequate. However, surveying this interpretative turmoil may nevertheless still help readers appreciate why my statement here of Paul’s apocalyptic politics is useful.

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Variations on a Theme by Paul: Romans 1:20 in the Summa Theologiae

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Variations on a Theme by Paul: Romans 1:20 in the Summa Theologiae

Matthew Levering

Can we know God’s existence and attributes by reflection upon the good things that we see around us? If so, what is the relationship between knowing God through reflection on created things and knowing God in Jesus Christ? According to St. Paul, who here draws heavily upon the Book of Wisdom, “Ever since the creation of the world his [God’s] invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20).1 Paul means what he says. As N. T. Wright observes, “Paul clearly does believe that when humans look at creation they are aware, at some level, of the power and divinity of the creator,” so that there is a “divine self-revelation in creation.”2 Nevertheless, Wright expresses concern that Romans 1:19–21 has “had to bear the weight of debates about ‘natural theology.’”3 After all, Paul’s main point in this section of Romans is not about whether fallen humans can know God without supernatural revelation. Rather, as Wright observes, Paul’s main point is that “this knowledge does not save those who possess it, but only renders them guilty.”4 The gentiles are made guilty by this knowledge because rather than praising and worshiping the God they know, they have rebelled against God. Thus knowledge of God through created things, no matter how feasible such knowledge may be, cannot give humans a place to stand outside of Christ.5

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Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Redemptive Descent

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Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Redemptive Descent

Joshua R. Brotherton

Introduction

The theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar has been as controversial as it is influential. This is particularly true in the areas of eschatology, Trinitarian theology, and soteriology. It will certainly take many decades for his thought to be thoroughly evaluated and tested. While the ingenuity and depth of his writings is widely acknowledged, the following three theses are sometimes designated as dangerously innovative: (1) a so-called Ur-kenosis constitutes the Trinitarian processions, (2) Christ’s Passion extends to the very depths of damnation itself, and (3) hell may in fact be forever empty of human beings. While I will be concerned in this essay with the second thesis, it should be noted that the first underlies the second, and the third results directly from the second (and thus indirectly from the first). Thomas Joseph White, a Dominican scholar who has written several articles critical of Balthasar, notes the interconnectedness of these proposals:

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Against the Consensus of the Fathers? Isaiah 7:14 and the Travail of Eighteenth-Century Catholic Exegesis

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Against the Consensus of the Fathers? Isaiah 7:14 and the Travail of Eighteenth-Century Catholic Exegesis

Ulrich L. Lehner

In 1546, the fourth session of the Council of Trent passed the Decree on the Edition and the Use of the Sacred Books. The Council fathers regarded this to be a necessary response to the many translations and Scripture commentaries in circulation that, in their view, confused the faithful and could potentially draw them to Protestantism. In order to ensure that the faithful would use only proper commentaries or translations, certain rules for official publication permissions were implemented. More importantly, this decree stated a hermeneutic principle for all Catholic theologians, in particular for exegetes. This principle affirmed the continuity of teaching of faith and morals between the church of old and the church of the Tridentine reform, and admonished consistency with the Fathers of the church. The decree read,

In order to restrain petulant spirits, [the Council] decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,—in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,—wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,—whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,—hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established.1

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