November 28, 2012

Incarnating the Righteousness of God: Richard Hays on a Controverted Phrase

The meaning of the apostle Paul's phrase "the righteousness of God" (Gk. δικαιοσυνη θεου) has been the subject of much controversy in recent years. Does it refer to justification? To God's own attribute of righteousness? God's covenant faithfulness? His saving righteousness, perhaps? One verse from Paul that, for various reasons, complicates the discussion is 2 Corinthians 5:21. Here's the distinguished Richard Hays on that passage:
The eschatological transformation of the community explains Paul's extraordinary affirmation that the purpose of God's reconciling work in Christ is "that we might become the righteousness of God" (5:21). He does not say "that we might know about the righteousness of God," nor "that we might believe in the righteousness of God," nor even "that we might receive the righteousness of God." Instead, the church is to become the righteousness of God: where the church embodies in its life together the world-reconciling love of Jesus Christ, the new creation is manifest. The church incarnates the the righteousness of God.
This is from Hays' The Moral Vision of the New Testament (1996), p. 24. Thoughts?

1 comment:

Michael Teston said...

Living the Gospel on the ground, I would absolutely agree with Hays' comment, ". . . become the righteousness of God: where the church embodies in its life together the world-reconciling love of Jesus Christ, the new creation is manifest." I've seen it materialize in the lives of people who decide to "believe in such good news" for themselves and others. If there is no "real" boots on the ground change in people's living its all just hot air or hot ideas. What I am afraid of is that most of the market faith proposed yields little life changes, ie. in theological lingo, sin reigns in the mortal flesh and not the Spirit of Christ. But hey, what do I know.