an interesting article by Arthur Just reflecting on the implications of Richard Hays' book, The Faith of Christ
, for Lutheran theology:
For Paul there are other themes in his theology, such as union with Christ or participation in Christ-the very title of a section of Hays's introduction: "Participation in Christ as the Key to Pauline Soteriology." Here again is Luke Timothy Johnson's assessment of the significance of this accent in Hays:
“He proposes that his position helps solve the long-standing debate between Pauline scholars over the question whether ‘justification by faith’ or ‘participation in Christ’ is more central to the Apostle's thinking. Hays says that it is a false opposition. If one grasps that the faith that makes righteous is Jesus' own faith and that his story is one in which, by Baptism, Christians have been incorporated, the two sides of the debate can best be seen as moments in the same narrative process.”
. . .
For Lutherans, there is much to reflect on here, challenging not only the way we think of Paul, but how we ourselves do theology. For both justification by grace through faith and participation in Christ are keys to our theology. Perhaps we have accented justification at the expense of participation in Christ which may explain why our sacramental theology has, until recently, seemed a secondary construct to our Christology and ecclesiology.
. . .
Richard Hays has opened up for us a window into Paul's theology through The Faith of Jesus Christ that places the atonement at the heart of Paul's gospel. The challenge for Lutherans is to maintain a sacramental theology that embraces both the apocalyptic aspect of the narrative substructure of Paul and his participatory soteriology. Hays did not engage in any formal development of this in his book, but he lays the foundation upon which such a theology could be formed. Who better to do this than a Lutheran, for who better could demonstrate through Paul's theology that the search for the historical Jesus ends at the Eucharist.
(Arthur A. Just Jr., The Faith of Christ: A Lutheran Appropriation of Richard Hays's Proposal, Concordia Theological Quarterly
, Vol 70.1, January 2006, pp 14-15.)