Skip to main content

Galatians: One Big Application

Now that Galatians is in the books, I feel that I must ask what I've learned. What made the study fruitful? One thing that became crystal clear to me was the source and importance of unity.

There is a lot of discussion in the parts of the Evangelical world today about gospel unity. In short it seeks to ground unity in the gospel, meaning that we are united to one another by virtue of having a similar confession and we can work for the kingdom with anyone who agrees with us on key doctrinal issues and a particular formulation of the gospel. I want to rain on this well attended parade. I don't find this to be a helpful way to ground our unity. Galatians (and Paul generally) presents a different source, and to be very provocative I fear that this approach runs far too close to that of the false teachers who had infiltrated Galatia (though I certainly would not call them false brothers).

Orthodoxy isn't the source of our unity. The Holy Spirit is. Full stop.

What is the problem in Galatia? It's exclusion from fellowship. Why? Because of a doctrinal disagreement. Full stop.

The Teachers excluded the Gentile Galatians because they had not been circumcised, saying that they had not become full members of the people of God. Their understanding of what it meant to be part of the people of God caused them to insist upon Torah as the defining mark. Paul says, 'Nein!' You are part of the people of God if you have received the Spirit. The Spirit is what defines Christian community and is the source of our unity. Thus to impose the necessity of Torah or particular stances on the atonement (or more secondary matters like inerrancy or evolution) as a litmus test for association is dead wrong. It's opposed to the gospel. The true measure is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Do these Christ-confessing communities demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If they do, then they're your brothers and sisters in Christ, whether Calvinist or Arminian; Evangelical or Mainline; Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Doctor Who: Rose Tyler - Traitor?

The end of season four was very, very controversial. When I first saw it, I felt cheated. I was angry. The more I think about it, the more I think I see what Russell Davies was doing. He is too good of a writer and the show is too carefully crafted for him to screw up Rose's character and the end of a four season storyline. So while the ending isn't strictly part of our series, it is tangentially related, and I've agonized over that scene in Bad Wolf Bay so much that I have to write about it. :)

To briefly set things up, near the end of the final episode of season four, there is a meta-crisis, that results in a part human. part Time Lord Doctor being generated. He has all of the Doctor's memories, and thinks and acts like the Doctor. However, importantly, he only has one heart and cannot regenerate. He only has one life to live. The meta-crisis Doctor brought full resolution to the battle fought against the Daleks, and in the process, wiped them out. Thus, the real Doc…