Frank Macchia - "Justified in the Spirit"
1:43AM Jun 28, 2020
Jonathan J. Armstrong
Today is our delight to be speaking with Professor Frank Macchia. Professor Macchia is professor of theology at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. He is also past president of the Society for Pentecostal studies and serves as the editor for numa. The journal for the Society for Pentecostal studies for more than a decade. He's published works include Baptist baptized in the spirit of global Pentecostal theology available from Zondervan. And also the text that we'll be discussing today, Justified in the Spirit: Creation, Redemption, and the Triune God, available from Hartman's Professor Macchia, thank you for being with us today.
Happy to be here,
Professor monkey as we begin, would you be willing to share a little bit about some of your current research projects?
Yeah, actually, I'm involved in writing Christology right now for admins. That I see as kind of a sequel to my other work. It's going to focus on Jesus the spirit baptizer, a Christology of Pentecost, in which I talked about the significance of Pentecost as an event as a salvation historical events or Christology.
Professor makia in your text justified in the spirit creation, redemption in the triune. God, you in the first part of the book, you situate the Pentecostal understanding of justification. These are the the Roman Catholic model of imparted righteousness and the Protestant model of imputed righteousness. How does the Pentecostal doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit which you identify is the crown jewel of the Pentecostal message? How does that link the Roman Catholic and the Protestant models of justification?
Yeah, it links it numerologically you know,
people read certain books books that just have a really significant role to play on their theological development. And James Dunn's classic baptism and the Holy Spirit which came out in 1970. played that role for me it was just a turning point. For me, I read it when I was a graduate students. Yeah, early in my years as a graduate student, and it just really impacted me and he convinced me that baptism in the Holy Spirit was the root metaphor for soteriology. In the New Testament, it was all encompassing in its significance. And that this had real ecumenical significance because of the fact that, you know, you have this classic debate between, you know, a heavily christological imparted righteousness model of justification, where the spirit is sort of something that comes in afterward or is somehow distinct from that and then Have this heavily sort of numerological imparted righteousness model of justification, which locates justification within the believers life in the spirit. And it just seemed to me that that bifurcation was very unfortunate that it really wasn't true to the history of the discussion concerning justification. And the more I researched it, the more I became convinced that the real struggle over the doctrine of justification between Protestants and Catholics was new mythological
that, you know, it begins with a Gustin
a Gustin had an implicitly new mythological understanding of justification that was also christological because he connected it to resurrection. But in that heritage sort of lives on and that heritage becomes sort of like the full point of debate, I'm convinced between Luther and his opponents over this doctrine. And when I read thurs 1519 Galatians commentary that became very clear to me that Luther was willing to include the Holy Spirit in justification. But he did it within the context of the believers initiation by faith, and, and and be the spirit into Christ and that it's in Christ, partaking of Christ by faith, that one is justified. So yeah, I guess you could say it's a kind of robustly Newman Newman theological understanding of faith that Luther is working with, but he includes the Holy Spirit in it. Trent wants to take that further. I mean, Trent's not satisfied with that. I mean, tramp wants to say no. The canvas of new mentality when it comes to justification has to be pulled much more broadly than that. And I'm convinced that was the debate. It was over it was over rheumatology. Luther wants to say, No, you can't do that. When you know this, this larger new ontological Canvas belongs to sanctification. And I think that was a debate. And so then I began to think about this. And I thought, you know, maybe the Pentecostal focus on the baptism and the Holy Spirit might provide a framework in which Protestants and Catholics can talk about their new mythological difference when it comes to justification in a way that, you know, might bring about, you know, a deeper consensus. So that's that's sort of what I'm doing in the book.
Dr. makia in a chapter entitled apart from us justification and the spirit in dwelt, Christ you write this nomadic existence is cruciform existence. justification is the Justice experienced in the form of existence as well as the vindication of it as glorifying to God. How does your theological proposal map onto the history of the doctrine of the atonement, if you please,
there's no there's a few things floating around in my head here.
You know, when you look at this, this Spirit baptism thing, it. First of all, it's very significant. And this often gets overlooked, when Christology is discussed, is that the chief follower of Christ, john the baptist, talks about coming Christ within the framework of a Spirit baptism model. And, you know, he will come to baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire. This is what john says of him and all four Gospels and the book of Acts, the narrative foundation of the entire New Testament makes this issue key to me. Understanding Christology and yet when you read Christology study, it barely gets mentioned. So I think there's something profoundly wrong about that. Now done convinced me when I read that book, back, you know, in a bygone era
what's really going on there in the gospels is that Jesus's journey to the cross is seen as a kind of baptism and fire.
And his resurrection
is his life in the spirit and his resurrection is, in a sense, the victory of the restorative element of Spirit baptism, over the baptism and in fire, that that what Jesus takes upon himself is the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire involving both the restorative The judgmental aspects of the spirits work this Jesus takes this upon himself. He goes to the cross, He descends down into the depths of our baptism and fire in order to the resurrection, according to the Spirit of holiness, as Paul says in Romans one for that in the resurrection, he rises up from the depths of this fire baptism, he rises up in the spirit to be the spirit baptizer and done notes, I think brilliantly, that in Acts one five, Jesus says to His disciples, you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit, not many days, hence, and no mention of fire there. And Don says the reason is, is because Christ is taking the baptism of fire for us. Now, this is a new mythological understanding of the atonement. As the man of the Spirit, He descends into all that contradicts the restorative work of the Spirit, in order in the resurrection, to bring us up into the life of the Spirit. This is why Paul in First Corinthians 1545 refers to Christ the last atom as a life giving spirit. This is the significance of the risen Christ, he rises up to be the spirit baptize or the life giver. That's the culmination of his redemptive mission. Now, Michael Gorman has done excellent work in what he is calling a covenant to understand the atonement, that Jesus at the Last Supper speaks of his blood as covenantal so that the atonement is fulfilled in the fulfillment of the covenant is so it's so atonement is profoundly numerological and ecclesiological That's the case, then here. I think, you know, the the importance of the Holy Spirit in justification, I think then becomes very clear because justification by way of the atonement becomes itself a new mythological and by implication ecclesiological reality, that it's never simply an individual forensic declaration that we're hearing and embracing. It's always
there's other dimensions to it than that.
So, you know, it. By the way, let me just say this when I was writing my book, in the early stages of writing the book, this was the issue that plagued me. Because I knew there's an undeniable connection between justification and atonement. I mean, you get it right there in Romans three, it's so clearly present and it's have, you know, just massive significance to the Protestant tradition, all Christian traditions, but particularly the Protestant tradition, and I said to myself, I've got to come to terms with this. And if justification is to be something that we affirm in the spirit, then I have to have an immunological doctrine of atonement. I mean, that that's, that's clear. And so that's why in the book, I do spend a chapter on that developing that.
Dr. makia. In your book, you propose that Roman Catholic and Protestant views of justification can in some way be resolved by turning to the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? How is your proposal been received in the context of ecumenical discussions? Yeah, good question.
Pentecostals love it. Catholics love it.
I've gotten good responses from both number of emails from both sides that.com You know, this, this spirit baptismal metaphor was very helpful. One person pointed out to me, I hadn't considered this how Bardeen it was, and, and, you know, Bart played a huge role in my theological development naturally. I mean, I did my doctorate at Basel had for Bart seminars when I was there, because in 1985, while I was there, it was the centennial of Bart's birthday. And so the Divinity School at Basel offered numerous doctoral seminars on bark that you're to celebrate him. So I took four of them. So I was, you know, just baptized into parts of the album that year, reading thousands of pages, a bard in German and just loving it. But I learned so much from part and it's, you know, whenever I just start a research project on anything, I pull down the church stuff Maddox, it's a very first thing I looked at. And no in that fragment of Bart's dogmatic he's got this lengthy discussion of baptism and the Holy Spirit, in which he develops his whole Christology along that line, and talks about what he picks up this phrase from Oskar Kuhlman called general baptism. And what he means by that is that there's a sense in which one could look at the entire, you know, Ordo salutis, in this framework of baptism in the spirit. And it just, it just occurred to me early on this, this has got to have ecumenical significance.
It really does. Because,
you know, for example, the Joint Declaration on the doctrine of justification that was signed in 1999 in Article 15, it does mention that justification Is Trinitarian you know, implying also, you know, christological ending methodological, but it doesn't really say anything in terms of, you know, how this is economically significant or how this will help us come together. And Spirit baptism seemed to me to be a great place to do that. Because for one thing, Spirit baptism is it has to do with Christian initiation, right? I mean it. It has to do with our incorporation into Christ, by faith and by way of the Spirit. It has to do with the diverse body that comes together in him that covenants together that accepts one another in him that partakes of one another as we partake of him, that I think is very palatable to a Protestant dogmatic because Protestants are not opposed to connecting justification to things like baptism did things like it. Cooperation into Christ to things like participation in Christ will heart pan and Baird finish Lutherans, they're all on board with that stuff. So I thought, you know, Spirit baptism becomes a handy metaphor for getting many Protestants on board and Catholics to I mean, they're very concerned Catholics as well, on how issues like incorporation, participation play a role in the doctrine of justification, and seeing justification as a profoundly transformative reality and not just some kind of legal fiction. Okay, yeah, there are still differences. I mean, I still think the Catholics will want to pull that Canvas further in the mythological we would as Protestants. But nevertheless, I think we could really come together in the area of Spirit baptism. more strongly, I think, than even the Joint Declaration suggests, although I think it hints in This direction, it doesn't come up. I mean, aside from article 15, it really doesn't exploit this as much as I think it should.
so remarkable set of observations. Thank you for that.
Dr. McKee. In your analysis you show that the Pentecostal view of salvation is neither purely the traditional Roman Catholic view nor the traditional Protestant view. Should Pentecostalism be classified as an expression of Protestantism or Roman Catholicism or something else? And,
yeah, good question. I recall when I gave my presidential address at the Society for Pentecostal studies, I think it was back in 1999. I can't remember now, but shortly after the Joint Declaration was published, and I recall saying that, you know, when I was in the Pentecostal Church in which I was raised, we never heard of the doctrine of justification by faith. I never heard of it. I mean, I it was never preached I don't recall one sermon on it. Growing up in my hometown Pentecostal church, I first learned about it from a Bible college professor. My introduction to theology in which he gave this rousing lecture on Lutheran doctrine of justification. I remember sitting there thinking, Why hadn't I ever heard this? Why hasn't anybody exposed me to this? And so, you know, right. Then I started thinking, Wait a minute, is this really, you know, part of my tradition? And then I stated in my address that years later, when I was a graduate student, and I was reading, you know, historical theology and read Trent and so on. I said that I came across the section in Trent where justification is discussed, and I said that my heart was strangely warmed. You got me despite all These Aristotelian categories. I mean, it still was talking about justification in a way that had profoundly to do with Christian conversion. Which, you know, warm this pious art.
Yeah, very much, because we're all about conversion. I mean, we're all about
that place where we actually are brought, it transformed mentally into Christ, you know. And so I found myself, you know, as a kind of, you know, somewhere in between these traditions, you know, sort of appreciating them both for what they were reaching for, and yet not entirely belonging to either one, kind of like the way many Western spill. And so, I thought, you know, maybe I can, you know, just kind of bring up this metaphor of Spirit baptism that's been so neglected that James Dunn has taught me has been neglected to our own You know, disadvantage. And let's highlight this and let's develop it. Let's just think out loud about what justification the doctor might look like if we develop it within this framework.
Now, I know that
I'm doing something with Spirit baptism that the majority of Pentecostals have not, you know, done in the past. I mean, I'm fully aware of the fact that the majority of Pentecostals have tended to see Spirit baptism as a kind of post conversion, empowerment for witness evidenced by charismatic gifts and signs and speaking in tongues. But in my reading of a lot of the early material, I found that a number of Pentecostals and I as I and I point this out in my book, song Spirit baptism as foundationally salvific soteriological. And and expansively soteriological insignificance. And so I thought, well, why not just kind of exploit that and highlight it and draw it out? Because if the Pentecostal emphasis on Spirit baptism is to have any ecumenical significance, we can't define it so narrowly, that should be referring to some, you know, post conversion experience. I mean, that doesn't do justice to the richness of the New Testament metaphor anyway. But I don't think it's, it represents the potential richness of the movement of the kind of Casa movement in terms of some of the diverse ways that can was talked about in their literature. I am Yeah, I am kind of pushing at the boundaries of the tradition here. and expanding on a metaphor more broadly than, you know, my forefathers and foremothers would prompt you You So yeah, I am I'm changing the Pentecostal doctrine somewhat I'm expanding it somewhat in my effort to make it economically relevant and and and at the same time to be more biblical about it, I think.
Well, we have with us the past president of the Society for Pentecostal studies and also the author of baptized in the spirit of global Pentecostal theology, which was a very well received theology for for Pentecostals. May I ask you, is there a theological definition of Pentecostalism? Can the movement be defined dogmatically?
Yeah, that's another good question. This is a question that has that has been in it's still being debated among Pentecostal scholars, and I'm going to sort of tip my hand as to where I stand on this. I mean, I think the debate was originally fought between Don Dayton and Walter Holliday. I think Walter Hollen vaguer was the first one to Make a proposal on the area. Back in the 60s and 70s. Holland Baker proposed that Pentecostalism globally is just way too diverse. To define document, it was no single doctrinal distinctive that you can put on it that kind of everybody will agree on with the movement is the movement is just too diverse. So Holland Baker said, all that we all that binds Pentecostals together as an experience this there's this robust experience of the Holy Spirit. That kind of, you know, drives us drives the church drives the mission, you know, produces lots of extraordinary things. And that this is what binds us all together. And that's different Picasso groups will then within their own given context, develop their own doctrinal distinctives. But, but nobody does this in the same way. And so there's really Pentecostalism. No Pentecostalism, okay, it's just an experience that binds us together. And Don Donald Dayton in his university of chicago PhD dissertation that got published in 88. But which came out in various articles before that took issue with that. And what Donald Dayton wanted to say was no, there is a theological, doctrinal Gestalt or structure that ties all Pentecostal groups together, and it's the fourfold Gospel, Jesus Christ as the Savior, the spirit baptizer, the healer and the coming King. At these four points, sort of represent the broad framework in which the Pentecostal messages develop. That's the Apostolic Faith. That's the full gospel. All Pentecostal groups hold to that. It's crystal center gets robustly dermatological It's concerned with healing and salvation and second coming and so on. And that's sort of where the debate kind of went on. So you had those following on Baker, kind of just doing research on very different Pentecostal movements in the world, different costal isms, nothing holding them together. And then you got the people following Dayton, who are working more according to doctrinal distinctives working within the fourfold framework, elaborating on the fourfold in terms of its ecumenical slash, theological significance, and so on. And so Pentecostal scholarship has kind of moved according to these two strains. And I sympathize greatly with Holland Baker, but I have to say I sort of side with me on this. I do think that there is a kind of common doctrinal core. The only place I would differ with Dayton is I think, in the fourfold Think the crown jewel is Spirit baptism. That's the idea that generates all the energy, all the literature, you read Pentecostal literature, like, just in the first 25 years of the movement, read Pentecostal literature and you'll find it the vast majority of the articles are about that topic. And they're fascinated with it. They just they can't talk about it enough. And so I just look at that. And I just said, Okay, what can we do with this? This is the crown jewel doctrine of the Pentecostal movement. It's the one that's highlighted the most. What do we do with this? And so what I did with it was I said, well, let's just say that it itself ethic.
It's charismatic. It just kind of logical.
It's all these things that you can understand the entire fourfold from this point. And so that's my tweaking of the fourfold I It represents the Pentecostal interest, the best.
Thank you so much for that reflection. Dr. makia, if I can close with one final question, it's a question that we've been asking all of the guests on this program and that is this. What would it mean for the church to be united today? How would we recognize this unity? And what is it that we can do as Christians to pursue real Christian unity?
Yeah, you know, I, I've been very committed to the Ecumenical Movement. I spent years on the faith and order commission of the National Council of Churches, and I've been on a few different bilateral dialogues. Over the years. I'm not quite as active anymore as I used to be, and sort of cooling my engines a bit.
But there was a time when I was pretty active. And,
as a Pentecostal, I would want to answer that in a couple of ways. First of all, you can't help but celebrate our spiritual Unity. It's real. I forget who it was who said that?
Thank God, our divisions don't reach to heaven.
They're Earth based.
But there is a guy, a real God who binds us together in Christ and in the spirit. And so there is unity.
We may not like it all the time.
Whether we like it or not, but sort of stuck with each other. There's only one Father, there's only one Lord. And there's only one spirit and we share these things together. So we are sort of stuck with each other, we might as well enjoy it. So that's, that's on one level, but the spiritual and of course has authentic I mean, Pentecostals celebrate that all the time and it's all about the Holy Spirit. The fact that the Holy Spirit crosses boundaries and spills over, binds people together and brings them together and allows us to worship and pray together. I mean, that's all Pentecostal. Talk about. And so as a podcast that warms my heart and I celebrate that, and quite rightly, but I realized what I've learned from the Ecumenical Movement is that that's not enough. I mean, as rich and deep as that is, it's not enough. And it's not enough because Jesus prayed in john 17, that we be one, so that the world would believe. That means that the Unity has got to be visible. It's got to be something that people can see. And so it can't just be this invisible spiritual reality that we celebrate, and, and otherwise, quite content with our divisions. Now diversity, that's good, but the toxic side of division, that's bad. And so how do we overcome that as a people in the spirit, people who belong to Christ in a way that the world can detect that the world can really see it dead. I'm not talking about a world church, but I am talking about some way of making our unity visible to the world. So that they really can see we're one and unless we can manage to do that
our witness is going to be damaged.
So, baptism in the Holy Spirit has to do with our common incorporation into Christ and all of our diversity. It has to be shared spirit that we drink of from Christ. It has to do with our empowered witness before the world. And if all of that is not ecumenical, I don't know. I mean, or what is I mean, it's, it's profoundly so and so. You know, there's no easy solutions, but I really do think that Christians need to be passionate about this need to pursue it in every avenue they can, whether it be formal economical conversations or informal conversations or opportunities for Joint worship opportunity for joint witness seeking every possible means of enjoying our unity in the spirit in a way that is visible to the world. And I have a tremendous passion for that. So there's no easy answers. But, and I and I see positive signs in this direction. Already I mean, there have been some great breakthroughs. In terms of Christians coming together. I just keep praying that we can see greater movement in this direction.
It's better delight today to be speaking with Professor Frank makia, professor of theology at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, and also author of the texts we've been discussing today, justified in the spirit creation redemption in the triune. God available from Urban's Thank you so much, Professor makia for joining us.
Thank you. This was a delightful conversation. I always enjoy talking to the ology. Great questions and I'm glad you enjoyed