Understanding Faith (05)

7 12 2008
The Crucifixion, central panel of the Isenheim...
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Well the time has come to bring this discussion back to the Pistis Christou Debate. If pistis (faith) is a word like “Charis” (grace/thanks) and “eucharistow” (thanks/grace) who’s meaning is determined by the position of the different parties in a relationship, then what would we expect in a relationship like God ↔ people? In Rom 3:1-8 Paul claims that the Jewish promotion of the law has turned it into a contractual relationship. But this is not the way it should be. Rather, over and again, God is presented as the great patron who freely gives in grace to people, so they may honor him. Under this perspective, we would expect God to be performing acts of Pistis towards people (=kindness, faithfulness) because that’s what patrons do. And we would expect people to be expressing Pistis back towards God (=trust), because that’s the appropriate response from people who have a patron. This would then account for pistis Christou. It is Christ’s pistis not towards the God but towards us! To which Christians then respond in a reciprocal way with trust. So pistis Christou may be subjective genitive, but of a sort which actually doesn’t turn human pistis into a following of Jesus’ example… rather, most naturally, it is defined by the relationship itself as trust! Ironically then there is a way of taking pistis Christou as a subjective genitive, but arriving at a place where most proponents of the objective genitive come to!

Posted by Bruce Lowe.

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