Returning to the Lord: An Interview with Mark Boda on Repentance
The new issue of Credo Magazine has arrived: Holiness. The following is an excerpt from Returning to the Lord: An Interview with Mark Boda on Repentance. In this interview, we talk with Mark Boda the nature of repentance, and how it is set forward in both testaments. Mark Boda is Professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College. He has authored 12 books, edited 19 volumes of collected essays, and written over 100 articles on various topics related to the Old Testament and Christian Theology. Two of his books include The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Credal Expressions and a commentary on Zechariah in the NICOT series.
How is it that repentance is the key mark of restoration and covenant renewal?
Since repentance is fundamentally relational, a turning to a person in relationship, it is thus essential to covenant renewal, as the people of God turn away from those objects (whether gods or selfish acts) that captured their affections and turn to their God. The climactic depiction of covenant renewal in Old Testament redemptive history is the restoration of the people to and in the land after the fall of Jerusalem. It is this covenant renewal that sets the stage for the New Testament drama, a covenant renewal heralded by John the Baptist, accomplished through the acts of Jesus Christ, and essential to the birth of the Church at Pentecost. The climactic depiction of covenant renewal in Old Testament redemptive history is the restoration of the people to and in the land after the fall of Jerusalem. Click To Tweet
Was Martin Luther right when he said that “the entire life of the believer must be one of repentance”?
We often think of repentance as somehow connected to “works” and I have tried to show that while change in behavior is a key dimension of repentance in the Bible repentance is foundationally an inner shift of the affections in relationship that is displayed in both word and deed. In this way, it is closely related to “faith,” highlighting the passive (trust) and active (faithfulness) character of faith that is found throughout the biblical witness. This is not to be confined to the initial stage of the life of faith, a fact that I develop in the final section of my book, showing how penitential passages in the New Testament focus on both the stage of conversion as well as the subsequent stages of sanctification. Luther, drawing on the Lord’s prayer, highlights the importance of the penitential cry for forgiveness throughout one’s Christian life (this is found in Luther’s Explanations of the Ninety-five Theses, produced by him in the period following 1517; see Luther’s Works: Career of the Reformer: 1, Volume 31, Edited by Harold J. Grimm. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1957).
How does the fulfillment of the new covenant by Christ affect one’s understanding of repentance and holiness?
Since repentance is not diminished in the presentation of the gospel in the New Testament, appearing on the lips of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostolic witness in the Book of Acts, we know that repentance endures as a key response exemplifying the people of God under the new covenant. An important aspect of the climactic era of the new covenant, however, is signaled by the sending of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. It is this divine enablement through the indwelling Holy Spirit that grants Christians the opportunity to fulfill the prophetic calls to repentance seen throughout the Old Testament.
Read Mark Boda’s entire interview in the new issue of Credo Magazine.