02 August 2008

Schlatter: Joy

One of the ways Adolf Schlatter has helped me is in seeing the centrality of joy in New Testament ethics. In the opening chapters of The History of the Christ, he writes that “it is joy for the community to give up its collective, godless will. It is happiness to do away with its evil.” (56). And at the end of The Theology of the Apostles, amid a discussion of love as foundational to Christ-centered community, Schlatter says:

Luke says regarding the early church that it cherished great joy, and this joy finds expression everywhere in the epistles. Peter expects the church of Asia Minor to be a rejoicing group; John instructs his congregation with a view to completing their joy, and Paul is able to describe his ministry by claiming that he is the one who facilitates the community’s joy (Acts 2:46-47; 13:52; 20:24; 2 Cor. 1:24; 13:11; Rom. 15:13; Phil. 1:25; 4:4; 1 Pet. 1:8; 1 John 1:4). That the community consisted of those who exercised repentance and persevered in continual resistance against all evil did not inject into it a lugubrious mood, because it did not transform repentance into a meditation over ethical wretchedness. Liberation from evil remained what it was in Jesus’ proclamation: a joyful work, for it was grounded in the fact that God’s grace is given to man. (399)

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