Eberhard Jüngel: we are righteous extra nos

Before I quote Jüngel, a few preliminary points. First, the extra nos character of Jüngel's theology is closely connected to, even dependent upon, his anthropology of the human person as a unity of the inner and outer person. Jüngel appropriates Luther's inner-outer distinction and makes it the center of his soteriology-anthropology. This is something Lutherans like Oswald Bayer and Tuomo Mannermaa wish to discard entirely. Jüngel, on the other hand, allows this to condition how he understands the "extra nos": the inner person is taken extra se, while the outer person remains active in the world. By making this distinction he is able to advocate what would otherwise be an absurdity: that our whole bodies are somehow taken away like some alien abduction. No, he rather makes this distinction so that our inner person (spirit) is re-created ex nihilo by God—brought into correspondence with God—after which act the outer person (flesh) is brought into active or moral correspondence with the inner person, and thus with God. So there are three levels of activity and a clear direction: God acts creatively on the passive inner person (taking it outside itself) by bestowing personhood, then the inner person (through the power of the Spirit) brings the outer person into moral correspondence with this interior personhood granted by God. To summarize the concept: our identity is not in ourselves but in God; we do not possess God but rather God possesses us; modern persons want to realize themselves through works and thus come to themselves, but the gospel tells us that we can only come to ourselves by forsaking ourselves and cleaving only to God. Here is Jüngel:
The intention of the forensic view of justification is to highlight the justification of sinners as an event by which they are accepted by God as righteous purely on the basis of God's righteousness - a righteousness completely extraneous to them - as it has been shown in the person of Jesus Christ Thus believers are described as those who 'are made acceptable to God because of [the] imputation [of God's righteousness].' This ensures that sinners can do nothing towards their own justification and, what is no less important, that they can never internalize the righteousness that is foreign to them or make it their own so that it passes into their possession. I am always accepted by someone else. I always have to gain my acceptance before a group. So recognition can never be 'had' as a possession by the one who is accepted or recognized. Those who are justified must resort to a tribunal outside themselves (extra se). There is nothing about them or in them - not even justifying grace poured into them - which can make sinners righteous. In the reality of the state of the justified there are no concessions to be made. They are righteous purely and simply because they are pronounced righteous. And they are only pronounced righteous because God's righteousness, which is extraneous to them, is attributed, imputed to them. So in the strictest sense, God's righteousness comes to them from outside, it is outward. Sinners are righteous externally to themselves: extrinsece Iustificantur semper. Sinners are righteous externally to themselves in the same sense that the Word is an external One, coming from the outside into our innermost being and responding and relating to what has happened outside us (extra nos) in Christ. So it is the Word alone that can come from outside into our innermost being in such a way as to move us to the place where we should be, where we have the right to be together with God. The doctrine of justification by the Word alone (solo verbo) is aimed at emphasizing this external relationship of justified sinners. ...

... If any discussion of the gracious renewal of the inner person (renovatio interioris hominis) is to be acceptable to Protestant theology, it must never be seen as complementary, as an alternative or as completing the extrinsetist view of justification. It can only be seen as a refinement of the definition of the external reference of justified sinners.

This occurs when we take the justifying Word of God seriously as one that speaks to us creatively. Such a Word can never remain 'external' to those addressed. Together with the righteousness of God that brings it to us, it touches us so greatly that it touches us more closely than we can touch ourselves. It becomes to us something more inward than our inmost being: interior intimo meo. [In a footnote here, Jüngel writes, "This is the element of truth in T. Mannermaa's interpretation of Luther."]

However, now we need to emphasize again that the justifying Word that so addresses and touches sinners does not let us remain in ourselves; it calls and places our inner being outside ourselves. If our inner being were to stay put, it would not be justified. This is what creatively defines those who are in concord with God: they come out of themselves in order to come to themselves - outside themselves, among other persons, and above all with the person of the wholly other God. And this is our human sin: that we want to come to ourselves by ourselves - instead of outside ourselves. So, leaving the relational riches of our being, we press forward into relationlessness. The Word of justifying grace essentially interrupts sinners in this urge towards relationlessness as it speaks creatively to us. It calls us out of ourselves as it comes so close to us, as it speaks and relates to what is outside ourselves, to what has been definitively moved by God's righteousness. It speaks and relates to the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ as they are outside us. The justifying Word from the cross addresses our inner being in this exterior aspect of our existence so that there we may come to ourselves and thus really, effectively be renewed. 'Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation' (2 Cor 5:17). In the next section we shall see how this comes about through faith. [These passages come from the section on solo verbo, "by the word alone."] For the moment we need to highlight the creative, renewing strength of the justifying Word by which alone God in his grace reaches our inner being and effectively makes us righteous.

So the justifying Word remakes our human existence anew, by relating us to Jesus Christ and there bringing us to ourselves, outside ourselves (extra se/extra nos). Thus this external reference is not something inferior and superficial, but a relationship which defines us in our inmost being. We are simply not ourselves when we are only by ourselves. We cannot find ourselves by 'going into ourselves'. We must come out of ourselves in order to come to ourselves. In a very clear sense we are called out of ourselves by the Word of justification: 'By faith he rises above himself unto God'. By faith we are able to 'rise above ourselves' because the Word of justification addresses us in such a way that we know we are related to the person of Jesus Christ and of God who acts in him. This is why we can speak of justification as a renewal of our inner persons who are also placed outside ourselves. It is impossible to imagine a more thorough-going renewal. So righteousness imputed to sinners is also righteousness which is imparted to them and renews them - by the Word alone.

[E. Jüngel, Justification: The Heart of the Christian Faith, 205-206, 212-214.]

Comments

Shane said…
maybe this is my hyperactive medievalist imagination but forensic declaration seems to have a very nominalist character to it.

i'll think more about that later and if i come to any considered view, i'll leave another comment.

what i would like to do instead is to make a radical claim, that thomas aquinas's ontology is much more 'relational' than juengel's.

Here is my evidence:

"Those who are justified must resort to a tribunal outside themselves (extra se). There is nothing about them or in them - not even justifying grace poured into them - which can make sinners righteous."

Juengel makes justification something conferred upon one from outside which one lacked beforehand, yes? this implies that your righteousness is never your righteousness, properly speaking.

Thomas's position is much more radical than this. You depend upon God's grace, not only for your justification, but for your very being. To be is to be related to God, because to be means to be created by God. All being is in correspondence to him insofar as it is. The meaning of your being is always referred to God who gave it to you--this is the doctrine of analogy of being.

Thus, natural grace is not your possession, but rather a gift in your own being, which comes to expression through the cooperation of special grace (conferred in the eucharist, usually). And yet, here's the rub, you are never merely a passive recipient, as if you were a stick or a stone. It is all Grace, it is all God, it is all 'extrinsic', but it is also your will insofar as it is cooperating with God's. You don't earn your salvation, but God doesn't make you a robot to save you either.

shane
D.W. Congdon said…
All right, Shane, now we're in a real argument. I realize that I am speaking with a far greater understanding of Jüngel's work which I cannot expect you to know, but let me help explain what a couple passages from one book simply cannot do. (And, in the meantime, read my essay, because I address these exact issues!)

1. As I hoped would be obvious from those selections, Jüngel's doctrine of justification is decidedly ontological. That is, he too, and I would actually argue much more radically than Thomas, places human being in the hands of God. We are not dependent on God for righteousness but for our very lives, for our very existence. That is all Jüngel. The reason you misunderstand Jüngel is that you think personhood, or being, is something that we actually have, and thus if we receive something from God which we previously did not have, it cannot be our "being" because we were still breathing and walking on the earth.

But that's where Jüngel is more radical. We never have true humanity until we are placed in a right relationship with God (and thus with others and ourselves). And, to be even more precise, once we are placed in this new and right relationship with God, our personhood - our new being - is still never our possession but remains a divine gift that we can never possess. That is the radical position of the Reformation: we are radically sinful, and thus only a radical salvation offered freely by God out of divine grace can make us truly human again.

2. Your quasi-Catholic position (and I don't mean that in an insulting way, just as a way of identifying theological differences) asserts a kind of natural ontology or natural personhood. As you say, "To be is to be related to God, because to be means to be created by God. All being is in correspondence to him insofar as it is." As Barth would say, "Nein!" No. This is going further than even the Catholics to whom Barth responded went with the analogy of being. What you are lacking here is any defined doctrine of sin, and in its place you have a very loose, natural doctrine of creation which allows all created being to be in correspondence with God. The question any responsible theologian would ask (including most careful Catholics) is, "What the hell does salvation actually do?" If our being is in correspondence, then what's the point? To be in correspondence with God is precisely what God's justifying grace affords us, as a free act of God apart from anything humans can do.

3. I think your position rests on an uncritical understanding of the analogia entis. Technically, the analogy of being has nothing to do with understanding the human person and everything to do with how humans speak of God. In other words, analogy is about how we bring God to speech, not about anthropology. So to use the analogy of being to speak about created being in correspondence to God is an improper use of analogy. The only valid use of the analogia entis, classically speaking, is speech about God.

So when Barth and Jüngel reject the analogia entis - for entirely different reasons, I might add - it has everything to do with how that Scholastic concept validates or invalidates talk of God. On a philosophical-ontological level, the concept is deemed invalid because it places God and humanity (creation) in a single ontological framework, just on different levels of perfection. So humanity is situated between the perfect divine being and the imperfect created matter. What this "chain of being" obscures is the radical difference between divine and created being. The loss of this distinction is the simultaneous loss of a relational ontology. Because two beings cannot be truly related without being truly differentiated. This is the whole point of Jüngel's theological ontology: God and humanity are differentiated as strictly as possible in order to be related as closely as possible. Thomas cannot have a relational ontology to the extent that he maintains an analogy of being. To assert that he has a relational ontology can only be the result of an uncritical definition of "relational" or a reevaluation of his analogia entis.

The other reason why Jüngel (not Barth) rejects the analogy of being is that it separates God and humanity too much by rendering God, in the end, unknowable and undefinable. Let me explain by presenting the Barthian position. When we start with God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ, we are able to state that the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit truly reveal who God is in and for Godself. Who God is in the economy of salvation is and in fact must be who God is in the immanent relations in the ontological Trinity. To put this another way, the relation between the immanent and economic Trinity reveals that God in and for Godself is Deus pro nobis: God for us. Who God is is revealed by what God does in the person of Jesus Christ. God's being is a being-in-act.

The analogy of being cannot state this, and in fact works against this. The analogy of being allows humanity to speak of God because it looks first at the human person created by God as part of an ontological order of being. What Jüngel's analogy of advent argues, in response, is not that we are able to speak of God because of our natural createdness, but rather that God enables us to speak of God by coming to the world in the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, God enters the world and authorizes human speech of God. The analogy of advent is a theocentric position which recognizes divine activity in every sphere of existence, including the way we think and speak of God. The analogy of being makes theological speech of God a natural possibility for every person simply because of their createdness. Correspondingly, the analogy of being keeps God preserved in the realm of the absolute, the Unmoved Mover, the One, the impassible, the static God of metaphysical theism. God is essentially unknown and unknowable. The analogy of advent (and Barth's analogy of faith) states that we can indeed speak of God, but only because God has truly and fully revealed Godself in time and space.

4. You want to speak of grace as a "gift in your own being," but I am afraid the burden of proof is on you how this can be reconciled with human depravity. The rule of thumb I give you is this: if a position forces you to minimalize the impact and radicality of sin, then toss out the position. Only a theological framework which permits human sin to be pervasive and total and yet does not neglect the goodness of creation can truly do justice to the biblical witness.

5. In the end, I think you have placed yourself in a very difficult position. You see Protestant theology and see a devaluing of created reality as good in itself. But you are then bound, as traditional Catholic theology has been bound, to focus on the doctrine of creation and neglect the doctrine of sin (or at least minimalize it). The problem with all of this is that you can only faithfully begin with what God reveals in the advent of Jesus Christ, in the doctrine of revelation - which leads inevitably to the doctrine of God (triune), the doctrine of reconciliation (effected by God's grace and love), the doctrine of sin (radical and total), the doctrine of anthropology (rooted in the Jesus Christ as the true imago Dei), etc. Where you begin makes all the difference.

Let me be the first to insist that you are creating a false dichotomy. You are not bound to choosing between a Protestant theology that denies creation (and created grace) or a Catholic theology that does not (though with other problems). If you are not convinced, we can talk more about it.

6. Finally, you want to say that your position allows grace to be "extinsic," and yet also be natural or inherent to created humanity. The problem is that it can only be extrinsic if it is recognized as such. And if it is recognized, then why make grace natural? Moreover, if grace is natural to us, it is not extrinsic but intrinsic! Jüngel's position moves past the impasse between intrinsic and extrinsic by asserting that when grace is entirely external, entirely in God, then God in grace and love makes it internal to us, more internal than we are to ourselves.
Shane said…
A real argument has arisen!

"The reason you misunderstand Jüngel is that you think personhood, or being, is something that we actually have, and thus if we receive something from God which we previously did not have, it cannot be our "being" because we were still breathing and walking on the earth."

There is a reason that I would misunderstand--because anything that is breathing and walking around is a being--that's what the word means. In Aristotle's phrase: "anything that is, insofar as it is, is a being." Being is a verb, as heidegger rightly reminds us, to be is to be in being, to be being your being.

If Juengel is really using the word differently, ok. But I suspect its going to cause him theological problems to confuse 'being' and 'personhood' or 'substance' because they really are conceptually distinct.

Think about it this way. . . everything that is radically sinful, is, and consequently, is a being. Sin itself is nothing but a privation (yea Augustine), but it can only be a privation is some preexisting being. If you don't think that people are beings until they are justified, then are they not nothings? A non-being is a nothing. Why does a non-being deserve dignity or respect? Why does a non-being have a moral claim over me?

(this was my objection to Mark Husbands. this anthropology is what let the righteous dutch calvinists enslave the pagan, hence unjustified, hence non-human natives in South Africa.)

"What you are lacking here is any defined doctrine of sin, and in its place you have a very loose, natural doctrine of creation which allows all created being to be in correspondence with God."

Well, I do have a doctrine of sin, as I have just pointed out, and it comes from a reputable authority . Examine my original statement again, "All being is in correspondence to him insofar as it is." As it turns out, mere existence is not so far. . . If you deny what I'm saying here, it means that your doctrine of sin makes sin and evil something positive. So, here's a dilemma for your doctrine of sin, Did God make sin? or Did sin arise as something outside God's power? I want to deny both horns of the dilemma, (since I think both of them are essentially heretical), so I follow St. Augustine in saying that sin is a privation. But if sin is a privation, then all being, insofar as it is, is good . . . QED.

As to salvation . . . that your existence is good does not mean that you are good, or that you have no need of forgiveness or regeneration, because your essence and your individuating accidents are not your existence. (only God's essence is his existence.) I'm not sure how I would locate salvation. I think 'essential change' goes too far, but i'll have to think more about it.

" I think your position rests on an uncritical understanding of the analogia entis. Technically, the analogy of being has nothing to do with understanding the human person and everything to do with how humans speak of God."

No.

The doctrine of analogy (which is both the analogy of being and the analogy of names) is a lot of different things. It is the answer to an aristotelian question about the nature of metaphysics (I'll send you my paper on this if i ever finish it), a logical doctrine about a certain kind of predication, a theological doctrine about the condition of the possibility of speech about God, etc.

I'll give you Henry of Ghent's take on this (because i'm writing on him, and in my interpretation he is simply trying to say more systematically what Thomas does). Being is an analogous concept because, being is not one univocal thing predicable of many instances. God and creatures share absolutely nothing real in common. (don't worry Barth) Yet it is also clear that the being of God and the being of creatures is not pure equivocation either--which is what happens when two things just happen to share the same word. Rather, being is said of both of them in a middle way, namely, analogously.

Now analogous relationships imply that one thing is said of two different things in different, but related senses. Something is predicated of one of them in a primary and the other in a secondary sense. In this cause, being is predicated of God in a primary sense since God's essence is existence--pure act--and all creatures obtain their existence through participation in him. God and creatures are not confused in the analogous relation--there is always a clear distinction between the participating and the participated.

Your response to my claim was wrong because it didn't take account of the importance of participation. Now, as I understood it, participation and correspondenced seemed pretty close. If this is not the case, then I'd be happy to jettison my conrrespondence claim. But, participation is far more than a doctrine of how we speak about God--it is part of Thomas's doctrine of creation, and it provides a really good reason to believe in the goodness of being, without having to deny the reality of sin.

"On a philosophical-ontological level, the concept is deemed invalid because it places God and humanity (creation) in a single ontological framework, just on different levels of perfection."

Yes and No. It does do this in a way, although, as I have argued, it preserves transcendence quite well. The alternative to analogy is to argue that God and creatures are completely equivocal. . . which is enormously theologically problematic. (basically it would seem to imply a kind of dualism to me--God is in heaven unreachable and the world below is not his creation.)

"What this "chain of being" obscures is the radical difference between divine and created being."

Nope. In fact, analogy locates much more rigorously and precisely exactly what the difference between divine and created being is. Barth is simply wrong about this.

"Because two beings cannot be truly related without being truly differentiated. This is the whole point of Jüngel's theological ontology: God and humanity are differentiated as strictly as possible in order to be related as closely as possible."

I don't follow. Take two things that are truly differentiated, e.g. apples and the World Series. Are these two things truly related? So, if God is absolutely other, finally mysterious, unknowable, utterly separate from any creaturely being, it does not follow that he is for that reason the most intimate, the most revealed, etc. I think this is a paradox, not an argument.

"The analogy of being allows humanity to speak of God because it looks first at the human person created by God as part of an ontological order of being."

What do you mean 'speak of God'? if you to write dogmatic theology then the answer is clearly no. But it seems like you want to forbid all 'speech of God', which means that it is sinful for an atheist looking at the sunset to say, "I wonder if there is a God who made all this?" This is either a terrible caricature or nonsense.

"The rule of thumb I give you is this: if a position forces you to minimalize the impact and radicality of sin, then toss out the position."

The rule of thumb I give you is this: if a position forces you to deny the goodness of creation, then it is manicheanism, toss the position out.

"You want to speak of grace as a "gift in your own being," but I am afraid the burden of proof is on you how this can be reconciled with human depravity."

As I have said above, because your existence is not your essence nor your accidents . . . I might be evil insofar as I am shane, but insofar as I am at all, I am good, because my finite created power is not strong enough to nullify gift of being which I receive from God.

"Thomas cannot have a relational ontology to the extent that he maintains an analogy of being. To assert that he has a relational ontology can only be the result of an uncritical definition of "relational" or a reevaluation of his analogia entis."

Then by all means, tell me what 'relational' ontology really is. I keep asking and nobody will ever tell me, which makes me think it is just a bullshit term that doesn't really mean anything.

Thomas's ontology is relational, insofar as it is an ontology which includes things called 'relations'. It is also relational insofar as all being is understood as being fundamentally related. God and his creatures are always in relation of one sort or another. To go out of this relation is to go out of existence (in him we live and move and have our being). Analogy explains, not confuses the distinction between divine and created being. Analogy does not explain the incarnation . . . but it never tries to . . . Thomas has more than just a doctrine of creation, but, as I am arguing against the protestants, he does have a real doctrine of creation, which takes seriously the (quasi)reality of sin.

Thomas's God is not static, on the contrary he is pure act(ivity). Thomas's God is not exhausted by the categories of metaphysical theism. Not at all. I encourage you to read Rudi te Velde's book "Aquinas on God" (Ashgate 2005), which argues that Thomas is not a theist.

I don't think i'm doing a reevaluation here. I have occasionally used some terms that thomas himself doesn't--e.g. saying that the center of our our life is extra nos, simply because you are talking about a protestant theologian and i think Thomas would agree with this language in a certain way.

I think what is really happening here is that protestant theologians have an extraordinarily simplistic view of Thomas which is read through a set of lenses that wants to find fault with what he is saying because he is a bad old catholic. If relational ontology is what we need to explain the doctrine of justification, it can't be present in thomas, because luther had to break away from thomas to really get to the heart of justification. After all, thomas is just an aristotelian philosopher who corrupts the pure [protestant] faith with pagan greek philosophy. (Adolph Harnack claims this in his History of Doctrine and I assume that Barth gets it from him). Not only is this reading of Thomas wrong, it is just mean--it lacks the christian virtue of charity.

shane
Shane said…
From the horse's mouth:

"But the true idea of relation is not taken from its respect to that in which it is, but from its respect to something outside. So if we consider even in creatures, relations formally as such, in that aspect they are said to be 'assistant,' and not intrinsically affixed, for, in this way, they signify a respect which affects a thing related and tends from that thing to something else; whereas, if relation is considered as an accident, it inheres in a subject, and has an accidental existence in it.
"Now whatever has an accidental existence in creatures, when considered as transferred to God, has a substantial existence; for there is no accident in God; since all in Him is His essence. So, in so far as relation has an accidental existence in creatures, relation really existing in God has the existence of the divine essence in no way distinct therefrom. But in so far as relation implies respect to something else, no respect to the essence is signified, but rather to its opposite term.
"Thus it is manifest that relation really existing in God is really the same as His essence and only differs in its mode of intelligibility; as in relation is meant that regard to its opposite which is not expressed in the name of essence. Thus it is clear that in God relation and essence do not differ from each other, but are one and the same."
(Summa Theologica, 1a q.28, a.2 responsio).

I think the important points here are that (1) God is by his essence relational, at least insofar as he is a trinity of persons, (2) that relations (at least in creatures) are something directed to what is outside oneself.

Regarding the limits of human knowledge:

"Hence we must say that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs Divine help, that
the intellect may be moved by God to its act. But he does not need a new light added to his natural
light, in order to know the truth in all things, but only in some that surpass his natural knowledge.
And yet at times God miraculously instructs some by His grace in things that can be known by
natural reason, even as He sometimes brings about miraculously what nature can do."
(ST IaIIae, q.109, a.2 responsio)

It is significant that this passage occurs in a question dedicated to the necessity of grace. Thomas's message is that some things are naturally knowable and other things aren't. At any rate, all knowledge (revealed and natural) requires divine assistance. God is not stingy about providing his help to pagans occasionally, though.

Regarding sin and grace:

"Man by himself can no wise rise from sin without the help of grace. For since sin is transient as to the act and abiding in its guilt, as stated above (Q[87], A[6]), to rise from sin is not the same as to cease the act of sin; but to rise from sin means that man has restored to him what he lost by sinning. Now man incurs a triple loss by sinning, as was clearly shown above (Q[85], A[1]; Q[86], A[1]; Q[87], A[1]), viz. stain, corruption of natural good, and debt of punishment. He incurs a stain, inasmuch as he forfeits the lustre of grace through the deformity of sin. Natural good is corrupted, inasmuch as man's nature is disordered by man's will not being subject to God's; and this order being overthrown, the consequence is that the whole nature of sinful man remains disordered. Lastly, there is the debt of punishment, inasmuch as by sinning man
deserves everlasting damnation.
Now it is manifest that none of these three can be restored except by God. For since the lustre
of grace springs from the shedding of Divine light, this lustre cannot be brought back, except God
sheds His light anew: hence a habitual gift is necessary, and this is the light of grace. Likewise, the order of nature can only be restored, i.e. man's will can only be subject to God when God draws
man's will to Himself, as stated above (A[6]). So, too, the guilt of eternal punishment can be remitted
by God alone, against Whom the offense was committed and Who is man's Judge. And thus in
order that man rise from sin there is required the help of grace, both as regards a habitual gift, and
as regards the internal motion of God."

(ST IaIIae q.108, a.8)
D.W. Congdon said…
Shane, please don't take this too personally. I can see that you are upset about Thomas getting the "bad rap" from Protestants. Trust me, I am not talking about Thomas, and never have been. I don't presume to know his theology. I only use him as a cipher representing the analogy of being, which I know is not derivable from him alone. Thomas has the distinction of being the high point of medieval scholasticism, and hence he is often used symbolically for certain trends in Catholic theology. I am using him in this way, regardless of how disingenuous it may be. I would rather do this (since Thomas does use the analogy of being extensively) rather than personify the analogy of being. I think almost all of your responses are a result of misunderstandings, though underlying them is perhaps a real disagreement.

Three points that I made you did not respond to. First, you ignored Jüngel's analogy of advent entirely. That is a mistake, because this gets past some of the problems that you attacked. And second, you ignored my comment that Protestant theology is capable of holding the goodness of creation (non-Manichaean) and the totality of sin in a healthy tension, without minimalizing one or the other. Your "rule of thumb" simply harped on the creation side, which only emphasizes my point: you are minimalizing sin and the necessity of salvation. Which brings me to my third point, you ignored my comment that all statements about sin, salvation, and creation must begin with a doctrine of revelation in Jesus Christ.

1. Let's begin with "being" (esse) and personhood. I'll sum up the modern Protestant position in a few sentences: In a philosophical-scientific sense, yes, we are all beings in that we are alive biologically. But we are all more than the sum of our biological parts. Thus, in a theological-existential sense, no, we are not beings coram Deo because we lost our correspondence to God through the fall. To be a person, theologically speaking, is to be in a right relation with God (we'll return to relational ontology, but it starts here; honestly, read my paper because it spells it out a lot better than I can do here).

2. Our differences rest on two major theological concepts: (1) the image of God, and (2) sin. I will email you Prof. McCormack's lectures on both, because they do a very nice job of summing up what I wish to say. Specifically, the imago Dei is a major issue here, because the definition of this concept has radically changed in the last 150 years, and definitely for the better. I know you do not think this is the case, based on your issues with Husbands's anthropology. Let me summarize the most important point. Somewhere in the early medieval church, the image of God came to identity not what makes humanity truly in God's image (thus looking to God for an understanding of ourselves) but what makes humanity different from other creatures (e.g., rationality). This development was the start of a long and misguided trail of theological writings on the topic, epitomized by the medieval Scholastics. What recent theologians have recaptured in a profound way is that the image of God is rooted in our relation to God, a relation which is actualized by God and remains entirely a gift of God and nothing we possess. The image of God is thus rooted in God's gracious acts pro nobis, and not in some quality or substance that we are by nature of our createdness. Thus, what makes us "persons" in the theological sense is nothing we "have," because we do not "have" anything eternally worthwhile -- biologically, we are definitely full of worth and goodness, but biology is limited to this world. When we speak of the imago Dei and personhood, we are speaking about eschatology.

Contrary to what you may believe, this is not a devaluation of being and created reality. If the image of God is Jesus Christ and not some quality that we possess, then what gives worth to unredeemed human persons? Their createdness! The fact that they are created means they are replete with value and worth, and yet ontologically they are remain self-inclosed and incapable of self-transcendence. Their identity is wrapped up in themselves; they are not extra se. What God confers on human persons in justifying word of the cross is just this: an identity rooted not in themselves but in Jesus Christ as the true imago Dei, an identity that is extra se and with God; instead of being incurvatus in se (curved in on themselves: Jüngel's, and Luther's, definition of sin), new human persons are "outside themselves."

3. The issue of sin is important, and like personhood and the imago Dei, it too must be thought out of God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ. You speak of sin in strictly Augustinian terms, but it does not help your argument nor does it answer my objections. Let me explain. Your syllogism is: (1) sin is the privation of the good (negative), (2) created matter is (positive), ergo (3) created matter is not sin and thus good. That's an odd argument to make, and no one would disagree with it. But it helps reveal why you misunderstand the Protestant so greatly. No Protestant thinks that created reality is actually sin and thus wholly evil. That would be an absurdity. What Protestantism means by total depravity is not that creatures are as sinful as they could possibly be but that sin affects every area of existence; the term is extensive, not intensive. In other words, creatures are sinful but not sin. They are, as you say, full of positive worth and "good," if all you mean by goodness is that something "is" rather than "is not." (See the distinction between biological and existential identity.)

Your position rests on a caricature of Protestant theology that is just as incorrect, if not more so, as the caricature that some Protestants have of Thomas. The "Christian virtue of charity" would say that you can only demand fairness if you give it, and in this case, your presentation of Protestant theology is far off the mark. Protestantism does not devalue creation but simply recognizes the extent of sin's power and influence. But if Protestantism recognizes the extent of sin, it is consequently able to expound upon the extent of God's gratuitous and overflowing grace far more richly than a theology that places divine and created reality within a framework of participation and one continuum of being (however much difference there is between God and humanity).

(Parenthetically, you cannot simply toss out a loaded word like participation and expect people to know what you mean by it, much less agree with it. For the record, I think that word is precisely part of the problem. I reject the concept out-right, because it only makes sense within a substance ontology in which God and creation are substantival objects which can indwell, intermingle, etc., and thus precludes a relational ontology in which God and human relate to one another as differentiated subjects. I will save a fuller discussion and definition of "relational ontology" for another post, although I will discuss it a little more later.)

4. Let's move on to analogy, in which you brought up participation. I have no qualms with your description of analogy per se, except that, by ignoring Jüngel's analogia adventus, your description of Ghent's position does not help me much but only underscores for where classical Catholic and modern Protestant theology part ways. Before I give you my modified account of Barth and Jüngel on analogy, I want to see if I have understood the Catholic position rightly. Could you explain to me what you mean by "all creatures obtain their existence through participation in [God]"? How does participation in God make human being analogous to God?

If I have understood you correctly, all creation naturally participates in God by virtue of its createdness; all creation is analogous to God. God and humanity are infinitely separate (due to the metaphysical attributes of God, e.g., omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, impassibility, etc.), but there is a natural, created analogy between them. The whole debate rests on this point. Catholic theology wishes to make the divine-human analogy natural to creation, while Protestant theology makes the divine-human analogy dependent on God's fulfillment of the covenant of grace revealed in Jesus Christ and made effective through his life, death, and resurrection. Catholic theology, classically articulated, has an analogy of being; Protestant theology, articulated by Jüngel, has an analogy of advent. The former says that our being is already in correspondence with God (Entsprechung in German, which means correspondence or analogy), while the latter says that our being is brought into correspondence by God in the advent of God's Son, Jesus Christ.

Now for my brief claim regarding the divine-human relation. The being of God and the being of humanity are "purely equivocal" unless and until God makes humanity correspond analogously to Godself. Without this divine act, there is no analogy, no correspondence, image of God, no theological-existential personhood.

I will forgo responding to your other points for now, since I expect what I have just said to be the major point of disagreement. If you'd like, I would be happy to talk more about the other areas of misunderstanding. But I think it is important to show where Catholics and Protestants part ways as clearly as possible. Shane, I respect you greatly, but we do each other a disservice if we do not make it clear where we stand.

And I cannot reiterate enough that Thomas is not my target. He is a theological giant for whom I have the utmost respect.
Shane said…
Ok, what we have here is a galaxy of different problems, some theological, some philosophical. I think we really are getting towards the heart of the issue.

[I am not taking any of this personally, by the way. I happen to like a good intellectual disagreement--I hope that I haven't overstepped my bounds and offended you in any way. I greatly respect your work as well, but I do feel like I need to defend Thomas somewhat because I see a lot of things in Thomas that I think would be very valuable resources for protestant theology that go unutilized.]

I suspect that some of our theological differences are pseudo-differences caused by different terminology. Thus, I think we should start by really trying to get the philosophical differences worked out. I will just send you my paper when i finish it. It will clarify some things about aristotle and thomas's appropriation of him, I hope. A longer discussion of the nature of an essence in Aristotle and the role of participation is also in order, but would take us a bit afield right now.

I want to continue this conversation, but I am afraid its really just too big to tackle on a blog. I propose we radically restrict the thread of conversation. At any rate, I'll limit my responses for now to a couple points.

You said, "Your syllogism is: (1) sin is the privation of the good (negative), (2) created matter is (positive), ergo (3) created matter is not sin and thus good. That's an odd argument to make, and no one would disagree with it."

On the contrary, I think this is an enormously significant argument and that there are really lots of people who would disagree with it. So let me make it more explicit. I don't Luther in mind here so much as Kant and the devaluation of being in modernity. I think this is a vital argument that Christian theology must make to recover ethics after modernity. Thus, I think protestant theologians should really be making this argument too.

You have charged me with misunderstanding the protestant doctrine of total depravity but I think you are missing the point. I agree that no created being is perfect and holy. Nor did I ever think that the protesants believed that everything was as bad as it possibly could be. What I call the 'manichean' character of protestant views of creation arises from two sources.

First Luther's view that it is impossible for a non-christian to perform any good action. A muslim man loves his children, and yet this very action of loving is still sinful according to Luther. (I think Juengel and McCormack at the end of the day would have to say the same thing.)

Second, the protestant view of justification is purely inward focused. There is no idea of justifying grace being mediated through creaturely realities, such as the Church, the eucharist, etc. and since justification is what is really important . . . the external symbols become meaningless. (McCormack--"You don't even need the Church"; Zwingli--"It's just a symbol") I think it is highly significant that Kant and Hegel were both Protestants. I am not identifying Luther and Kant. I am saying that protestant pietism has a lot to do both with the elevation of freedom as autonomy in Kant and with his view that the world 'out there' is a valueless and neutral rather than created and good. It takes another 200 years after Kant for the valueless neutrality to become an evil totality (and thus true manicheanism) in Levinas and Sartre and so forth, but I fear that the seed of that is already present in the Reformation. When i say that to be is to be good--I am implicity arguing against all this.

If I am understanding your presentation of Juengel rightly, then we have been talking at cross purposes because of a completely different philosophical vocabulary. I do in fact, want to defend an account of substances and essences in the traditional aristotelian way, (because I think that they are probably unavoidable), but that will have to wait for another time. In the meantime, I'd like to point out that you, Juengel and McCormack have substituted "theological-existential personhood" for "the essence of humanity". Am I right to say that your position is basically just a kind of theological existentialism? (this would make sense in terms of the historical development of 20th century german philosophy and Juengel's own debts to Heidegger. I also recall coming across McCormack saying something about our being-in-the-world that sounded a bit Heideggerian.) Is this the real locus of our disagreement?
Shane said…
Quotes to support some of the things that I just said.

From the Westminster Confession:

"6.2 By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body."

I take it that that last bit is too extreme, even for most protestants. Certainly, I don't think this is the best understanding of total depravity (and neither do you, apparently), but it is one historically important understanding of it.

"Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God." (Westminster Confession 78).

I believe Luther has similar statements in his Galatians Commentary. I also find it interesting that the last sentence of that passage seems to reintroduce the notion of different levels of sin . . . which McCormack argues strongly against.


shane
Andy said…
"A muslim man loves his children, and yet this very action of loving is still sinful according to Luther."

By way of clarification, I think we need to recognize just exactly what Luther would mean by such a thing. This idea is directly addressed in Luther's 1518 Heidelberg Disputation, so I turn there for context.

In thesis 5 he says, "The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes." What he means here, I believe, is that while we would recognize a civic righteousness in the good works of men (Christian and non-Christian alike), they do not merit righteousness before God. In using the odd terminology of "mortal sins as though they were crimes" he is, I think, looking at the traditional Catholic use of "mortal sin" as an "objectively grave matter" though elsewhere in the disputation Luther is intent on redefining the idea of mortal sin.

In thesis 7 he says, "The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God." This is, of course, what is commonly known as Lutheran irony. If we believe that our good works make us righteous, they have the effect of causing us to deny our dependence upon God and thus separate us from Christ, which is Luther's definition of mortal sin.

In his little book on the Heidelberg Disputation, Gerhard Forde claims that this series of theses means to address how acts done apart from Christ can be "good" in the ordinary sense without being meritorious. If I remember correctly Forde said that scholastic theology classified works done apart from Christ as "dead" which Luther then equated with "bad" or "evil" and hence "a theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil."

So, strictly speaking, for Luther, a Muslim man loving his children is only a sinful act (better, mortal sin), if it tends to cause that man not to fear God.
D.W. Congdon said…
Melancthon, thanks for that illuminating comment on Luther.

Shane, going back to our posts on here, I would like to comment on the individualistic tendency in the doctrine of justification. First, both of the quotes you picked out (McCormack and Zwingli) are from Reformed theologians, not Luther -- just to make the distinction, which is quite important in this case. You also picked theologians who have low church leanings (more than a leaning in McCormack's case). And McCormack cannot be read as just your ordinary Protestant theologian; he is a Barthian through and through, and thus Barth's own tendencies are made manifest in his theology).

Second, McCormack's quote, "You don't even need the Church," is indicative of Barth's theology more than anything else. What he means to say -- and taken out of context this is missed -- is not that the church is superfluous but that God is the source of all grace. McCormack, following Barth, wishes to identify and affirm that God is the sole actor in the work of justification, the one who kills and makes alive, the one who gives new being. The Church happens to be the vessel God has chosen for those made anew in Christ, but the Church is not necessary in the sense that God is not limited to the Church in the work of salvation.

Third, Jüngel writes:

"...it is extremely important to note that we never find 'the saints' in the New Testament as individuals. It is a mark of New Testament usage that the expression 'called to be saints' can be used along with 'church' (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2). This explains why the expression 'saints' is only used in the plural. The New Testament only knows the 'collective' form, the community of saints. The singular is different; its usage is restricted to a Christological sense. Only Jesus Christ is the Holy One in himself. All others are saints only in the sense that they have been made so." (Justification, 258)

Fourth, the most important quote from Jüngel:

"Jesus was encouraged to be himself on the basis of the relationship to God in which he found himself. It is this fellowship with God which made Jesus, in an incomparable way, an individual, a special, unmistakable person in his individual existence and thus, in a certain way, the loneliest of all men. And thus it is the new fellowship with God which he inaugurated which gives his proclamation that "eminently individualizing tendency." The hearer is addressed about this new fellowship with God in such a way that he gains a new understanding of himself, a new self-understanding. The new self-understanding consists not only of the fellowship with God, but also of an indestructible dependence on my neighbor who needs me, and thus on the neighbor whom I need. The other person who is there for me, and the one who may expect that I am there for him are discovered to be my neighbors at the very same time that I discover this new fellowship with God, and they belong to that same fellowship. In that new self-understanding which Jesus' proclamation inaugurated, the one who hears it will discover the relationship to his neighbor already present. And thus he first becomes an individual self as a nature who is destined for fellowship with God and with other people." (God as the Mystery of the World, 354).
chris king said…
I'm not going to pretend that I read this whole dialogue, but I do find the initial topic quite interesting. I've been fascinated with the ontological implications of salvation since I read this line from Aquinas about 14 months ago: "To say someone has the grace of God is to say that there is something supernatural in humanity, coming forth from God."

Now, I know the idea in this quote is contested, but it got me thinking about possible ontological connections in the Orthodox doctrine of deification. I also know that there are disputes between Lutheran justification and Orthodox deification, but I find it interesting that similar elements are found in Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox views on ontology and salvation, albeit in severe tension.

Anyway, one last thought, from the Jungel excerpt: "The Word of justifying grace essentially interrupts sinners in this urge towards relationlessness as it speaks creatively to us. It calls us out of ourselves as it comes so close to us, as it speaks and relates to what is outside ourselves, to what has been definitively moved by God's righteousness. It speaks and relates to the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ as they are outside us."

Any ideas as to why what seems to be a pneumatological fuction in justification is attributed to a neuter "Word of justifying grace"?

Is this part of what Webster deems the "underdeveloped pneumatology" of Jungel, as I remember reading somewhere?
D.W. Congdon said…
I think theologians from all branches of the Christian faith need to be clear that salvation is ontological across the board: we become new creatures in the salvific work of the triune God through the person of Jesus Christ. Justification is ontological, deification is (clearly) ontological, etc. The question then is: which ontological account is most faithful to the biblical witness and the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ?

Jüngel, as Webster does point out, indeed has a less developed pneumatology than could be desired. I think it is probably the weakest element in his theology, especially his adherence to the filioque. His treatment of God as Spirit in God as the Mystery of the World is only a couple pages long. However, none of what he says precludes the possibility of providing a fuller account of the Spirit's work based on the framework that Jüngel provides. He simply does not do the work himself. Moltmann, it seems, has a near monopoly on the theology of the Holy Spirit in contemporary theology, which is a shame. Pneumatology is the area of the doctrine of God that is most lacking. Theology is just not starting to rectify its significant gaps in this regard.

Although, to be fair, we should recognize that the Holy Spirit according to Scripture is the person of the Trinity that most seeks anonymity. The Spirit is the one who points away from herself and toward the Father and the Son; the Spirit is self-effacing. What does this mean for theology? That remains to be seen.