There are 3 thoughts on “A Restoration of Paul’s Understanding of Faith as a Relationship of Action”.

  1. Thank you for this review. I bought the book but have not yet finished reading it. What I have read so far is very supportive of our position regarding faith, as opposed to the rest of Christendom. I encountered a fellow many years ago when I was a Stake missionary, who explained to me that all we need to be saved was to accept Jesus as our personal Savior, and if we sin after that it does not matter, we are saved by grace, so even sexual sins are forgiven. I now understand where he got that dangerous idea.

  2. In my opinion, Schmidt gets one thing wrong in his analysis of charis. On page 16 he writes:” However, I was later astonished to discover that New Testament commentators sometimes offer the subtle disclaimer that classical grace is very different from Pauline grace.” This sentence has the following footnote: “For example, David A. deSilva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 96–97. Having read this section from deSilva’s book I don’t see any disclaimer’s, subtle or otherwise. From my reading, deSilva fully accepts the concept of the patron/client relationship as it relates to our relationship with Christ.

    DeSilva wrote the section on Grace in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Here is what he wrote there:

    “The casting of the divine-human relationship in these terms reflects the manner in which human beings interacted. People in an inferior position (with regard to power or resources) would ‘seek the favor’ of a person in a socially superior position. Joseph ‘finds favor’ in the sight of Potiphar, the jailer, and Pharaoh’s household (Gen. 39:4, 21; 50:4). This human dimension remains important in the narratives of Ruth and 1 Samuel, as well as in Proverbs. At such a level, ‘favor’ does not necessarily create an ongoing relationship. It may be a single act of beneficence with a response of simple gratitude. Frequently, however, it does initiate an ongoing relationship in which the beneficiary returns loyal service for the favor shown by the benefactor, and the benefactor continues to provide assistance and access to resources (cf. the story of Joseph).”

    “The relationship of ‘grace’ between God and the people of Israel is ongoing. God’s acts of ‘favor’ in the wilderness establish a relationship which now has clearly articulated mutual obligations. An initial stance of uncoerced favor leads to the formation of a relationship in which the benefactor will continue to provide assistance, and the beneficiaries will remain singularly loyal to the Patron and offer services to the Patron. Within the Deuteronomic and prophetic traditions, this loyal service was to be fulfilled through beneficence toward one’s fellow Israelites. Generosity and justice in human relationships were obligations imposed on the people as their fitting response to God’s generosity toward them. God’s ḥeseḏ, ‘loyalty,’ remains ‘favor’ in that where the human beneficiaries continually fail in their loyalty and service, God continues to call them back into favor, punishing for a time but always restoring those who have broken faith. Even the declaration of a ‘new covenant’ which replaces the ‘old’ broken by the ancestors is a declaration of God’s commitment to set aside all those offenses and insults to God’s favor, and approach the people anew in favor (Jer. 31:31–34).”

    “Paul speaks, therefore, of the ‘obedience of faith’ (Rom. 1:5; 16:26) which is the goal of his mission, calling forth the proper response of those who have benefited from God’s gift. This involves the offering up of the believers’ whole selves to God’s service, to do what is righteous in God’s sight (Rom. 12:1; 6:1–14). As in the OT, this response centers not only on honoring God, but on love, generosity, and loyal service toward one’s fellow believers (Gal. 5:13–14; 6:2; Rom. 13:9–10). The giving is free and uncoerced, but the ancient hearer knew that to accept a gift meant accepting also obligation to the giver.”

    “The author of Hebrews affords exceptional insight into the workings of ‘grace’ within the patron-client relationship between God and human beings. Whereas humanity stood apart from God’s favor on account of the sins which stained the conscience, Jesus’ priestly sacrifice (brokerage) brought forgiveness and cleansing, so that Jesus’ clients might have ‘access to the throne of favor,’ i.e., come into God’s presence, seek God’s face (favor), and receive ‘favor to help in time of need’ (e.g., the resources to hold on in the face of opposition; Heb. 4:16). In order to attain the promised benefits of a place in God’s city (Heb. 11:13–16; 13:14), the clients have need of ‘faith’ (pɩstis) and ‘endurance’ (10:35–39). They must remain loyal to their Patron in the face of society’s hostility and not waver in their trust. To give up God’s gifts (and show slight regard for God’s ‘spirit of favor’; Heb. 10:29) for the sake of peace with society would be an outrageous insult to the Patron, a spurning of God’s gifts and of Jesus’ costly mediation, resulting in God’s ‘wrath’ (Heb. 10:26–31; 3:7–4:11).”

    In my opinion, deSilva fully supports the conclusions drawn by Schmidt rather than contradicting them.

  3. This looks like an interesting read and I think one that would be profitable compared to the work by Protestant scholar Mathew Bates on same topic in his book Salvation by allegiance alone.
    aside from an unfortunate dig at pair of Sister missionaries about the Book of Abraham in the beginning, I found the book to be enlightening as Bates made the argument for translating pistus as ‘allegiance’ or ‘enacted loyalty’ and the subsequent realignment of the faith vs. works debate and the effect such a realignment would have on the Church.

    Bates book lacks the extended treatment on how this understanding of faith was lost in favor of a more thorough justification of his reading and examination of how it changes the way scripture should be understood from a Protestant point of view.

    I found it ironic, given the aforementioned dig at the Church, that I immediately understood his point and recognized it as the the implicit understanding I had grown up with in the Church. I am grateful for the clarity his formulation has brought to my thinking regarding faith as separate from hope and as the essence of covenant making.

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