I don’t see Michael Gorman’s outstanding work on Paul cited enough; and therefore not enough are interacting with him. I say this because Gorman has become one of the most fruitful, irenic, and astute theologians of Paul in the contemporary scene. Somehow he seems to have found a Third Way beyond current impasses, and his most recent book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology
, shows why.
This book ties together Paul’s ideas about justification and holiness and co-crucifixion (with Christ) into the rich and ever-growing notion of theosis — our being made like God. In some ways, Gorman draws together the Catholic, the Protestant and the Eastern Orthdoox.
Here is the dynamic idea at work in this exceptional book: God became human — kenosis — and the supreme revelation is the cross. Therefore, God is cruciform. We are called to participate in that revelation. This is dense, but read it slowly and you will gain a new appreciation of the depth of Paul’s theology and the centrality of cross for everything: “Theosis is transformative participation in the kenotic, cruciform character of God through Spirit-enabled conformity to the incarnate, crucified, and resurrected/glorified Christ.” This means to be truly human is to be Christlike, which is to be Godlike, which is to be kenotic and cruciform. That is heavy and that is rich theology.
This big perspective, which can be seen as an incarnational and cruciform theology, also means justification is about participation in relational and covenantal terms and is synoymous with reconciliation. He then redefines holiness and sacred violence … and it just gets better and better.