See here for part 1 of the interview.
4) You got a bit of pushback at SBL in DC (2006) about co-crucifixion as being synergistic. What do you say to that response? Did you adjust your arguments based on that interchange?
The phrase that pushed people’s buttons was and is “justification by co-crucifixion.” My response, as I recall, was twofold. First, I argued that typical notions of faith, especially in Protestant circles, are impoverished vis-a-vis Paul’s; they are simply not “thick” enough, robust enough, demanding enough. I cited Bonhoeffer as the counterpoint to this impoverished understanding of faith in Paul. (I have many pages devoted to this in Cruciformity, by the way.) Second, I reminded the critics that I have repeatedly made the point that co-crucifixion, cruciformity, theosis, etc. is the work of the Spirit, a work of grace. To be sure, humans (or at least believers) must respond and even, yes, cooperate with the Spirit, but my theme verse on this subject is “Work out, or actualize, your communal salvation because it is God who is at work in your community.”
I have actually taken great pains to make it clear that grace and the Spirit—as expressed in those passive verbs—are the source of our co-crucifixion and transformation. After the pushback, I certainly checked my language and sharpened it a bit, but my basic position remained, and remains, unchanged.
5) Based on Richard Hays’ blurb of your book (Gorman deftly integrates the results of recent debates about Pauline theology into a powerful constructive account that overcomes unfruitful dichotomies and transcends recent controversies between the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ and its traditionalist critics.), how do you see your work transcending the Old/New perspective debates?
I think it transcends the dichotomy in several ways. First, I want to maintain both the “vertical” and the “horizontal” (social) dimensions and demands of justification, whereas the Old and New perspectives often (even despite cries to the contrary from the New folks) stress one or the other. I think they are not only both present, but inseparably so. Second, and this is related to the first point, I see participation as central to Paul, not as an alternative to justification, but as the very essence of justification. I think that both the Old and the New perspectives have generally missed this connection and actually have common (mis-)understandings of justification as a verdict, as a judicial metaphor. They simply disagree on what the verdict is. Third, I think that justification as participation means that both human effort/pride (Old) and cultural elitism, to use Matera’s phrase (New), are ruled out as the basis for justification—anything but the cross as the objective and subjective basis of justification. Finally (at least for now), I think that the Old and the New perspectives both treat the cross as a formal, but not a material, ground for justification. In my read of Paul, the cross embodies the covenant faithfulness and love of God and of Christ, which means that what it is, is intimately connected to what it effects (justification, salvation).