Saturday, April 17, 2010

Radner on the untenability of a fashionable distinction

"Neither the Old nor the New Testament knows any clear difference between 'moral' and 'doctrinal' reality.  The terms 'moral,' 'doctrinal,' and even 'ceremonial' have no scriptural basis.  When St. John writes that 'by this you know the Spirit of God:  every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God' (1 Jn 4:2), he is not limiting truth to a 'core doctrinal' message (e.g., about the Incarnation), for he immediately goes on to say that 'knowing' God is inseparable from 'loving one another' (4:7ff).  More integrally, he summarizes his argument at the beginning of 1 Jn 5 by writing:  'By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome' (1 Jn 5:1-3).  Keeping the law and knowing God cannot rightly be separated, even in New Testament terms."

Ephraim Radner, "Blessing: a scriptural and theological reflection," Pro ecclesia 19, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 22.

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