Spirit, Church, Eschatology: The Third Article of the Creed as Hermeneutical Lens for Reading Romans

This paper will explore the theological consequences of reading Paul's Letter to the Romans through the hermeneutical lens of the Christian church's classical confessional tradition, as articulated in the Nicene Creed and Apostles' Creed. This is not a matter of superimposing foreign dogmatic concepts on a first-century document, but of exploring whether the theological judgments expressed in the creeds might serve to "correct our vision" by bringing into focus significant aspects of Romans that have been relatively neglected in subsequent interpretative traditions. Reformation traditions focused on reading Romans in light of "justification by faith" (not mentioned in the creeds). Recent historical criticism has focused on Paul's understanding of the Law and the relation between Jews and Gentiles (also not mentioned in the creeds). What happens if, instead, we allow the Trinitarian structure of the creeds to inform our interpretation? As a test case, the paper will focus on the third article of the creeds. I will propose that such a reading illuminates important theological motifs of Romans: the Holy Spirit, the church, and eschatological hope for resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.