Monday, March 28, 2005

Pistis Christou

I must admit that I have not been a fan of Paul. However, I am willing to give him a more focused evaluation, particularly since I've learned recently that there seem to be different Pauls, depending on which epistle you read and how you choose to interpret his words (... not to mention which translation of the scriptures you have at hand).

One of the insights I received from Jerome Murphy-O'Connor’s book, Paul: A Critical Life, is that Paul was a bit of a pragmatist, and thus his letters to the various early Christian assemblies (or churches) varied in tone and substance depending on the situation. The goal was to convert Jews and Gentiles and resolve problems within the assemblies.

I am fascinated by Murphy-O'Connor's reference to pistis Christou, which means either "faith in Christ" or "Christ's faith". Apparently, there is a fair amount of controversy about the meaning.

... I guess so!

If you take pistis Christou to mean "faith in Christ" then consider what it means to be "saved through faith in Christ" as opposed to "saved through Christ's faith".The former focuses on the person of Jesus Christ, who he was (THE divine "Son of God"). The latter focuses on the way Jesus of Nazareth lived and what he taught. Big difference.

If you focus on the belief in Jesus, the dieity, as the ONLY way to attain salvation (whatever you wish that to mean), then you can better understand the Christian theology of exclusivism (those who believe will be saved, those who do not will be damned for eternity).

If you focus on salvation through the practice of Christ's faith (... doing and saying as Jesus would), then you can better understand the Christian theology of pluralism (universalism)... that everyone is saved by God's grace, regardless. In other words, it is adherence to Christ's faith that allows oneness (salvation) with the Creator, not the faith in Christ.

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