Monday, January 15, 2007

The Sawyer / Johnson Dialogue - Part 5

Part 1 Part2 Part 3 Part 4

Please see the introductory paragraph to Part 1 of this series for an explanation of the literary license taken in formatting this dialogue.

Phil (continuing his critique of Hodges’ view of James 2): 4. Which is to say that the major defect in Hodges’ whole soteriological system goes far deeper than his eccentric exegesis of James 2. In fact, this much is plain from the outset: Hodges’ unusual reading of that text is necessitated in the first place by the theological peculiarities he brings to the text—especially his inadequate understanding of the new birth and his semi-pelagian notion that divine grace isn’t efficacious for salvation without the sinner’s prior consent. But apart from the framework of no-lordship presuppositions, Hodges’ interpretation of James 2 doesn’t even make sense. That, I would think, is why he has a hard time getting critics to interact seriously with his exegesis of the passage. Most of them are left scratching their heads and wondering why anyone would think sound exegesis should ever require so much gymnastic and contortionistic skill.

Jodie: Phil, you also wrote of Hodges “semi-pelagian notion that divine grace isn’t efficacious for salvation without the sinner’s prior consent.” If you mean by “prior-consent” a sinner’s believing in Christ, as you can see by the above scenario, sinners can’t believe without God drawing them and illuminating their minds to the truth of Christ. Belief itself is simply not a voluntary reaction, it is involuntary. That the last few centuries of Calvinist theologians have rejected this is not exactly a feather in their cap. Name one of your political beliefs that you could change at will. I don’t agree with everything Nancy Pearcey says but her simple definition of faith/belief is excellent, saying that beliefs are thoughts that stick around. In the case of saving faith, belief is a glorious thought that normally coincides with the emotional catharsis we see in the man born blind.

Phil: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more inadequate description of saving faith.
Jodie: At least we’re getting somewhere. “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’” Scripture is crystal clear that we are called righteous by God because of our unadorned faith. In my opinion, your real authority is not the word of God but your own conscience. You’re holding the word of God captive to your conscience instead of Luther’s vice versa.