1. James D.G. Dunn, The Christ & the Spirit, vol. 2, "Pneumatology" (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 3.
2. Ibid., 4.
3. Ibid., 18. Dunn notes that the Spirit's role "is never simply that of repeating the original teaching ... but that of reinterpreting the old to give it contemporary significance and that of revealing the new in a way consistent with the old."
4. David F. Ford, Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love (New York: Cambridge U. Press, 2007) 65.
5. Dunn, 10ff.
6. Paul Jersild, Spirit Ethics: Scripture and the Moral Life (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000).
7. Stephen Prothero observes that just as evangelicalism "owned" nineteenth-century Christianity, Pentecostalism has done the same in the twentieth century, helping to move the center of gravity among Christians in a southerly direction. Though originating in the United States, Pentecostalism "is now equally at home in Africa, Latin America, and Asia." See Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One (New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 2010) 87ff.
8. My own Lutheran tradition would counter this hazard by identifying the Spirit's work with the "external means" of Word and Sacrament. God's action in Christ is extra nos, and as such is both the source of our salvation and of our certainty of salvation rather than an inner experience of the Spirit. My focus here is what has been traditionally described as sanctification rather than salvation, a Third Article realm where Christians universally recognize the Spirit-led character of the faithful life. Lutheran ethics is often accused of centering too exclusively on repentance and forgiveness as the substance of the Christian life; a spirit ethic is more focused on the journey itself, bringing the spirit-led life into engagement with the pressing issues of the day. See Cheryl M. Peterson, "Pneumatology and the Cross: The Challenge of Neo-Pentecostalism to Lutheran Theology," DIALOG: A Journal of Theology , v.50, nr. 2 (Summer 2011) 133–142.
9. Dunn, 68. The biblical account of a personal God standing in relationship with humans is appropriate language for Christian faith, but it does encourage the inference that reduces God to a person in space and time and invites the notion of personal demons as well. The result is a trivializing of both the divine and the demonic, seen quite graphically in images of God as a bearded old man and a devil with horns and clad in red tights. Spirit language recognizes and affirms the divine-human encounter but would emphasize the utter magnitude and mystery of God. This means that our relation to God is more aptly expressed in terms of the nurturing, directing, and loving power of the Spirit rather than to dwell on features of a personal relationship with God.
10. Ibid., 39–40.
11. Among scholars who take a skeptical view on this issue are Jack T. Sanders, Ethics in the New Testament: Change and Development (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), Wayne A. Meeks, The Origins of Christian Morality: The First Two Centuries (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), and Robin Scroggs, "The Bible as Foundational Document," Interpretation, vol. 49, no. 1 (January 1995) 19.
12. Luke T. Johnson, Scripture and Discernment: Decision Making in the Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996) 40–44.
13. Ibid., 42.
14. Old Testament scholar, Terence Fretheim, argues that a relational view of God with humanity, and understanding the law as rooted in a continually changing creation, lead to the conclusion that even the law of God, which we regard as unchanging ("written in stone"), does change in meeting the evolving character of human life. Analogous to the argument cited above by Luke Johnson concerning Scripture, Fretheim concludes that "God is both constant and changing ... constant in terms of, say, promises made, yet changing as the relationship develops over time." See Terence E. Fretheim, "What Biblical Scholars Wish Pastors Would Start or Stop Doing about Ethical Issues in the Old Testament," Word & World, Summer, 2011 (v.31, no. 3) 297–306.
15.For a fuller treatment of this topic, see Jersild, chapter 7.
16. Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology in Crisis (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970) 126.
© March 2012
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 12, Issue 2