Proclamatory Pragmatism: An Investigation into the Lutheran Logic of Law and Gospel

Yakimow, Scott, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ochs, Peter, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Jenkins, Willis, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Jones, Paul, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Contemporary American Lutheranism is experiencing a considerable number of long-term, intractable disputes, principally regarding biblical interpretation, that are resulting in an increasingly fractured denominational community. This dissertation seeks to provide the Lutheran community, and possibly others, with a set of tools that can be used to mediate such disputes regarding how Scripture should be interpreted. It does so by means of offering to Lutherans a pragmatic analysis of the logic behind the Lutheran praxis of distinguishing Law and Gospel, and it connects this praxis to the Apostle Paul’s own approach to reading Scripture. I develop this logical model, which I call “proclamatory pragmatism,” by means of an investigation of early Lutheran thought – primarily that of the Lutheran Confessions – and an analysis of Paul’s practice of reading Scripture as witnessed to in Galatians, 1 Corinthians, and Romans. It is highly indebted to and intended to be an extension of Peter Ochs’ “scriptural pragmatism” which is itself dependent upon the pragmatism developed by Charles Sanders Peirce. My primary thesis is that competing foundationalisms are present in contemporary Lutheran theology; that both claim roots in the early Lutherans and Paul; that both misunderstand the Lutheran and Pauline project in characteristically foundationalist ways (dogmatist and relativist); that the early Lutherans and Paul were primarily engaged in a reparative project; that charting the logic of both the early Lutherans’ and Paul’s reparative projects via pragmatic categories offers a normative logical structure for contemporary Lutherans that they might use to mediate the problem of competing foundationalisms; and that the model of “proclamatory pragmatism” is effective in doing so. I offer this logical model to Lutherans (and perhaps other Pauline Christians, though its extent is unknown) as a way forward out of the impasse which currently plagues so many theological discussions.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Pragmatism, Scripture, Paul, Lutheran, Law, Gospel, Romans, Galatians, Augsburg, Confession, Formula, Concord, Semiotics
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