First Corinthians 10:13: A Rejoinder To Steven Cowan -- By: Paul Himes

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 55:4 (Dec 2012)
Article: First Corinthians 10:13: A Rejoinder To Steven Cowan
Author: Paul Himes


First Corinthians 10:13:
A Rejoinder To Steven Cowan

Paul Himes

Paul Himes is a Ph.D. student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 120 S. Wingate Street, Wake Forest, NC 27587.

I am grateful for the opportunity to interact with Steven Cowan on the issue of the will in 1 Corinthians 10:13. In my original article, I argued that 1 Cor 10:13 seems to necessitate a libertarian form of free will in order to make sense and that consequently every time a believer sins, he or she could have done otherwise. Cowan has responded, “God makes a way of escape for the Christian by encouraging and helping him in the progressive development of a virtuous character.”1 Cowan develops the following lines of argument: (1) the broader context of 1 Corinthians 9-10 argues for a compatibilistic sense in 1 Cor 10:13; (2) key texts from elsewhere in Scripture (Rom 7:14-25, Phil 2:12-13, and 1 Tim 4:7) support a compatibilistic interpretation of 1 Cor 10:13; and (3) my view of 1 Cor 10:13 would have a seriously negative effect on the doctrine of sanctification. I will respond to each of these points.

I. Response

First, however, I must acknowledge that my original article may have been overly anthropocentric. The focus of 1 Cor 10:13 is, first and foremost, on God as the gracious provider for the escape route. Indeed, the structure of the verse itself points to this: God is the faithful one (πιστός) who stands juxtaposed with all the frailty of mankind. If I have neglected the theocentric nature of this passage, I hope to rectify that by stressing it in this paragraph. The central character of 1 Cor 10:13 is God himself, and anyone who preaches this passage should focus on the graciousness of God more than the ability of humans.2

Nevertheless, I believe my overall thesis, that a Christian can always resist the temptation to sin (at any particular point in time), still stands. In response to Cowan, I would like to begin by pointing the reader to a significant difference in how he and I view the relationship of self-discipline to resisting temptation. For Cowan,...

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