I am in the final stages of editing Volume 4, ‘Lifeline’, which will be a digging somewhat deeper into the Pauline Gospel. Here is a little extract from the Preface. I write about Paul’s confrontation with Peter in the Galatian context. [And of course I do not need to remind anyone that Volumes 1 and 2 can be bought now, volume 3 in the next few weeks. No need to remind you hence placing this in brackets!!]
Beginning of short extract:
Paul’s response was not very diplomatic as he did not allow for any middle ground. Those teachers were proclaiming ‘a different gospel’ and he invited a curse from heaven to come on them:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Gal. 1:6-9).
Paul’s understanding of the Gospel was such that he gave no value to that of fulfilling the Jewish rite of circumcision. The only value he held to was that of ‘new creation’:
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation (Gal. 6:15).
This is the same language (kaine ktisis: new creation) as in 2 Corinthians 5:17 where in that context he writes that for those who are in Christ how they see others has been totally altered. No one can be viewed according to any former value system, for ‘if anyone is in Christ [there is] new creation’. Through Christ’s death on the cross there is a new social order. Perhaps the best summary of the effect of the Gospel, the birth of this new social order is the classic summary text in Galatians 3:28, 29:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
End of extract…
Paul pushes a lot of buttons. Sight, for him, seems to be a measure as to whether we are ‘in Christ’ or not. I have no idea if he would buy into the forensic argument related to justification without corresponding action (or here sight). Sight needs to mark us out. When we talk about ‘our people’ and ‘them’ and the context is political (as I have seen recently on a Christian video) I cannot square such language with Paul’s indication of what it means to be in Christ. (Even Joshua had to find out that God was not into the ‘us’ or ‘our enemy’ language. No help coming from God to us…. and the ever present danger of the Judas’ gift of being wedded to our view of the kingdom…)
It is a sad day when we are able to label people by ideology. Paul was pretty up tight when he saw the effect of division that came about through the interpretation of Scripture regarding faith. He (in his own wonderful ‘objectionable’ way) called it ‘another’ Gospel. What would he say when we make divides over other issues?