I never wanted to be the guy who'd get all excited about theology. I'm much more the practical ministry kinda guy. But...
I find myself salivating over a new commentary on Romans I just picked up from the Carey library! I couldn't believe it was there!
The commentary is Ben Witherington's "Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary".
Here is why I'm excited:
- It's written by an Arminian/Wesleyan who is trying to bring this orientation to the exegesis as opposed to the more Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist readings generally available - in fact the author claims there hasn't been a reading of Romans from this perspective since the Reformation itself!
- It deliberately incorporates a consideration of social and rhetorical factors in developing its exegesis - the socio-rhetorical bit
- Witherington contents that Romans 7 is not autobiographical of Paul's life but rather descriptive of a spiritual crisis in the non-Christian's life - the celebrated "I do the things I don't want to do" loses its force as a mantra for the masses looking to find an ally in Paul and crediting him with the same sense of enduring moral failure that they experience as a Christ follower - this is where the Augustinian inheritance around original sin seems to come into play in a strong way - so I'm fascinated by this crucial distinction and the possibility it offers for a more optimistic reading of the holy life
- I've also wondered for a while whether an Arminian view of scripture and salvation is actually more accessible to the post modern mindset so I'll be interested to see how this plays out in this most theological of epistles
So I am officially a theology nerd joining Frank and Rhett in endless controversies...
Well maybe not, but I'm glad to have found the commentary as I am preparing sermons over coming weeks on Romans and starting a paper on Romans at Carey...should be fun to wave the Arminian flag high within a Baptist College!