Eugene Baek Blount and Hays
John: The Christology of Active Resistance • In John’s work, Blount finds his language symbolism to be the stuff of active, countercultural, communal resistance. • One Can read John’s narrative in the light of its own social location. • Loving one another, Blount denotes, is the foundation for an ethics of active resistance.
Shucking Corn: A Slave Perspective on Countercultural, Active Resistance • According to Hopkins, the slaves stole pleasure, co-opted power, and appropriated resources in an effort to foster self-respect and engineer a sense of communal belonging and pride. • Slaves played their way into a reality where the injustices that presently plagued them were “in truth” no more.
Johannine Christology: The Potential for Ethics • Everything in John begins with Christ. • There is no kingdom confusion. • John simplifies matters; his focus is on Jesus alone. • Jesus’ identity as Son of God is the truth to which the signs in the Gospel and the Gospel itself testifies. • Question: “Are we with Jesus or against him?”
Johannine Love: Christological Ethics • There is a problem: it appears that ethics has been reduce to mere belief in the Johannine framework. • Blount explains that the link that binds faith and love together for John is Jesus. • Two questions: “Can we keep Jesus’ commandments?” “What exactly are Jesus’ commandments?” • Love was already a preeminent ethical expectation long before Jesus descended. • Love was not exclusively personal; it was interpersonal, even communal, directing an image of self-sacrifice for others on a corporate, social scale.
Johannine Dualism: An Ethics of Resistance • John operates from a theological perspective of cosmological dualism. • John encourages his readers to choose the path of faith in his, Jesus’, Sonship, and thereby ally themselves with the things from above. • The problem with John’s dualistic rendering is that, in the end, his narrative connects the structural intransigence of “the world” with the characterization that he names “the Jews.” • John’s ethics is a Christology of active resistance allowed Blount to a renewed appreciation for the manner in which John ends with the conclusion to the first rendering of his Gospel.
Revelation: The Witness of Active Resistance • Blount’s primary interest was to demonstrate that the Roman occupation endured by Mark’s readers corresponds to the “psychological occupation” that continues to haunt African Americans. • Blount mentions that the language that John uses is the language of resistance, not escapism.
Apocalyptic Theology: The Truth Is Out There • Question: “ Who is in control? God? Or the Emperor and Rome?” • Outlines two key oppositions: God vs. Satan
Hays: Three Focal Images • Community • The church is a countercultural community of discipleship, and this community is the primary addressee of God’s imperatives. • Cross • Jesus’ death on a cross is the paradigm for faithfulness to God in this world. • New Creation • The church embodies the power of the resurrection in the midst of a not-yet-redeemed world.
Community • Primary sphere of moral concern is not the character of the individual but the corporate obedience of the church. • Ex. Romans 12:1-2 • Community is called to embody an alternative order that stands as a sign of God’s redemptive purposes in the world. • The term “community” points to the concrete social manifestation of the people of God. • Church is the body of Christ, a temple built of living stones, a city set on a hill, Israel in the wilderness.
Cross • Jesus’ death is consistently interpreted in the New Testament as an act of self-giving love, and the community is consistently called to take up the cross and follow in the way that his death defines. • The death of Jesus carries with it the promise of the resurrection, but the power of the resurrection is in God’s hands not ours. • Imitating is a way of obedience. • The focal image of the cross that ensures that the followers of Jesus must read the New Testament as a call to renounce violence and coercion.
New Creation • Paul’s image of “new creation” stands here as a shorthand signifier for the dialectical eschatology that runs throughout the New Testament. • In Christ, we know that the powers of the old age are doomed, and the new creation is already appearing. • Thus, the New Testament’s eschatology creates a critical framework that pronounces judgment upon our complacency as well as upon our presumption despair.
How Do Ethicists Use Scripture? • Modes of Appeal to Scripture • Other Sources of Authority • The Enactment of the Word • A Diagnostic Checklist
Modes of Appeal to Scripture • Theologians may appeal to Scripture as a source of the following: • Rules: direct commandments or prohibitions of specific behaviors • Principles: general frameworks of moral consideration by which particular decisions about action are to be governed • Paradigms: stories or summary accounts of characters who model exemplary conduct • A symbolic world that creates the perceptual categories through which we interpret reality • All these modes or discourse within the NT suggests that all of them are potentially legitimate modes for our own normative reflection.
Other Sources of Authority • Tradition • Refers to the church’s time-honored practices of worship not general cultural customs. • Tradition can take a more local form: cultural groups or a particular denominations within the church bear their won distinctive forms of belief and practice. • Gives us a place to start in our interpretation of Scripture • Reason • Refers to Understanding of the world attained through systematic philosophical reflection and through scientific investigation. • Reasoning enabled us to understand more about the cultural context of scriptural writings and their processes of composition and development. • Experience • Refers to not just to the religious experience of individuals but also to the experience of the community of faith collectively. • Experience confirms the testimony of Scripture in the hearts and lives of the commuinty.
The Enactment of the Word • What sort of communities have resulted or might result from putting the readings of Scripture into practice? • When we pose this question, we are acknowledging the force of James’s insistence that “faith without works is dead.” • The view is asking how the proposals for the use of the NT in ethics have been put into practice in living communities of faith.
A Diagnostic Checklist • The overall structure of the checklist corresponds to the four-part structure. • Descriptive • Synthetic • Hermeneutical • Pragmatic • Employs the assessing role of Scripture in the work of various theological ethicists.