Scot McKnight’s Reading Romans Backwards– The Dialogue Part Nine

Scot McKnight’s Reading Romans Backwards– The Dialogue Part Nine October 22, 2019

BEN: I like your discussion of lived theology, though traditionally theology is about indicatives, and ethics is about imperatives. I also like your emphasis on the interconnectedness of the whole of Rom. 1-16, making clear that Rom. 1-8, or 1-11 is not abstract theologizing but rather provides foundations for what is going to be said later. Rom. 12-16 is no appendix, or ‘oh by the way’. On the other hand, Paul is dealing largely with a group of Gentiles in Rome that he did not convert. Rom. 12-16 is critical, but Paul has to reserve for later in his argumentation the real lived out facets of the theology he wants the audience to embrace. Why? It’s not because Paul is shy, but it is because he is establishing a basic understanding of his Gospel with an audience that largely does not know and has not met him, before he starts meddling with their ‘lived out theology’. Is it not saying too much to say Rom. 12-16 is front and center. Wouldn’t it be better to say all of Romans is crucial, and Rom. 12-16 brings the whole discussion to a climax? Comments?

SCOT: You have yourself explored these themes. I have learned from Charles Marsh this expression and it resonates with me as the work of C. Kavin Rowe, One True Life, resonates with me. Our life is a theology.

Perhaps I would say it this way, Ben. Rom 12-16 is Rom 1-8/1-11 in a different key. It’s not as simple as theology and ethics, indicatives and imperatives, for Paul’s imperatives invade Rom 1-11, too. Yes, there is concretion in 12-16 not as visible in 1-8 (though Rom 6 is not without concretion), and this obtains for Paul’s letters often enough. But what we find is not pure ethics and pure theology but what a friend of mine calls “theological ethics.” Perhaps we need ethical theology in 1-11 and theological ethics in 12-16? Anyway, I want to explore “lived theology” more. It has promise for me.


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