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Justification By Faith Essay

2642 words - 11 pages

While acknowledging the divergent views of Nygren and Bornkamm that Romans reflects Paul's past experience, this essay, however, sides with the view that the Sitz im Leben of Romans manifests itself as a letter addressed to the social interactions between Jews and Gentiles and the situation of the Roman Jewish community whom Paul hopes to persuade, as in 14:1 and 15:3, to build up a Christian community net-work in order to give concrete support to his mission to Spain and spiritual support for his journey to Jerusalem (L. K. Lo, 1998 and Ziesler, 1989). This manifestation is again revealed in Paul's discussion of the commonality of sinfulness of Jews and Gentiles in 1:18-32 and 2:21-24, arguing that their solidarity in sin has put them in the same situation of guilt and powerlessness (Lo, 1998). The problem of human sin affecting Jews and Gentiles can only be solved by the divine righteousness which comes to the rescue of human beings in their collective predicament and which is, as in 1:17, primarily a saving power available to all who have faith in and respond to Jesus Christ (Ziesler, 1989). It is therefore against this background that this essay will attempt to discuss Pauline doctrine of justification by faith as understood by scholars like Ziesler, Barclay, Kasemann, Lo and Heinecken and to highlight where relevant differences in their perceptions of the doctrine. In its latter part, this essay will take issue with contentions that the doctrine constitutes only a subsidiary crater (Schweitzer), that justification is only the consequence rather than the content of the gospel (Molland) and that Christology rather than justification is the theme of the epistle (Friedrich) and will argue that the doctrine is so important and fundamental to human salvation that it constitutes in the progression `the' threshold only through which the mystical experience of being in Christ (sanctification), of the new creation and of the new aeon can be attained. On the other hand, Bassler's discussion of divine impartiality, though non-contentious in character, only demonstrates the all-embracing nature and goodness of God's righteousness and fairness but fails, this essay argues, to bespeak itself as an essential ingredient or constituent in the process of human salvation which is attainable only by sola gratia on God's side and sola fide on human side (Ziesler, 1989). Any attempt to belittle or sideline the doctrine would have the effect of placing the pudding out of reach of the eating, thus rendering its proof impalpable.

As mentioned above, this essay is premised on the basis that the letter is addressed to the Roman Christians for the sake of changing their attitudes and the concrete situation (Lo, 1998). It is desirable, this essay says, to examine those important themes appearing in the preceding chapters that spur Pauline discussion of the doctrine of justification in Romans 3:21-31. Prior to his description of the plight of human situation...

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