Richard Hays on the Word Reconciliation
One gift of our recent summer institute was a morning devotion by the new Dean of Duke Divinity School, Richard Hays. Richard is one of the reasons I came to study at Duke in 2000. Donna and I were headed to Boston at the time, until a mentor said, “You need to go to Duke. I have friends who will take care of you.” Richard Hays was one of those friends. He and his wife Judy lived in an intentional Christian community who affirmed his call to the academy. His book Moral Vision of the New Testament is a gem.
Richard’s devotion is a powerful exposition of 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2, Paul’s passage on new creation and the ministry of reconciliation. Hays notes the significance of the word “reconciliation” in spite of being used only a couple times in the New Testament; that it is not a religious, but political term; and that Paul’s exhortation is “we don’t just announce it. We embody it.”
Here’s one excerpt:
“Despite some older translations (KJV), Paul certainly does not write, ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature.’ Rather, he blurts out, in a burst of wonder, ‘If anyone is in Christ . . . New Creation!’ The background of this text is Isaiah 65:17, where Israel’s God declares: ‘For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.’ So Paul is proclaiming the transformation of the world, and summoning us to see all things made new in light of that transformation. Note: ‘God was reconciling the world to himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:19). Not just individuals. The frame of reference is cosmic and corporate. Paul is not just saying, ‘’Look at me, my sins have been forgiven, and so I’m now a new creature.’He is saying that the whole world is being made new by the cross and resurrection and that all our relationships have to be re-evaluated in light of that transformation.”
About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.
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