The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
By CORY MINDERHOUT,
Published: May 9 2012
If Romans 7 had been left out of the Bible, Dr. Rob Wall might sigh a bit of relief.
“The longer I live with Romans 7, the more I want God’s permission to skip it,” said Dr. Wall, professor of Scripture and Wesleyan studies at Seattle Pacific May 2.
Wall spoke on Romans 7 last week at the 17th annual Walls lecture. The lecture is given each year in honor of Paul T. Walls, an SPU Board of Trustees member who died in 1983.
About 75 people listened to Dr. Wall’s lecture in the First Free Methodist Church gym. A few students dotted the mature audience.
Romans 7 is about wanting to do good but often doing evil instead.
Dr. Wall said, in Romans 7, Paul isn’t talking about himself. Instead, Paul is using a rhetorical device to show how it’s impossible to live out the moral demands of the Bible without the help of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Wall said.
Dr. Wall argued for this interpretation of the passage because Christians are given freedom from sin, but Romans 7 doesn’t describe that kind of life.
“The faith that saves is faith that’s hard as nails,” Dr. Wall said. “Our old self is toast. We don’t get to sin; we get to sin no more,” he said.
But Scripture, without the help of the Holy Spirit, cannot produce holiness in a Christian’s life, Dr. Wall said.
“We are never without grace, and therefore, never without God’s spirit,” Dr. Wall said.
He also touched on John Wesley and Martin Luther’s views on salvation, or liberation from sin. Dr. Wall sided with Wesley and said that salvation requires a response and is not God’s act alone.
“Grace is powerful but not coercive,” Dr. Wall said. “There is no moment along the way of salvation where grace does not require a response.”
Dr. Wall tied Romans 7 to a song by the Black Keys called “Sinister Kid.”
He said the song about a troubled boy who’s constantly chased by the devil is similar to what Paul talked about in chapter 7.
“We no longer live in sin but in the effects of Jesus’ death and resurrection,” Dr. Wall said.
Senior Allyson Schlonegger said she appreciated hearing an interpretation of Roman’s 7 that was different from the one she grew up with.
“It’s important to consider alternate readings,” Schlonegger said. “His reading exhibits a powerful spirit to save.”
Schlonegger said she attended the lecture because she’s taken three classes with Dr. Wall as a theology minor.
“With the alternate reading, that safety net that says we can always sin is taken away,” she said.
Freshman Josh Johanson said he’s still deciding how to interpret Romans 7, but appreciated hearing a Wesleyan interpretation of the passage.
“It was very interesting,” he said. “It opened my eyes to a new perspective.”
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