"In a word, Paul employs the ancient equation of the world's elements with archaic pairs of opposites to interpret the religious impact of Christ's advent. Following the baptismal formula, he applies that tradition not to the sensible elements, but rather to the elements of religious distinction. These are the cosmic elements that have found their termination in Christ. Specifically, the cosmos that was crucified on the cross is the cosmos that was founded on the distinction between Jew and Gentile, between sacred and profane, between the Law and the Not-Law. What we contemplate the identity of this crucified cosmos, it is not difficult to see how its departure could lead a Pharisee to speak of his own death (Gal. 6:14)" (405-406).As Martyn notes just a page earlier, the old cosmos that was founded on the "creational pair of male and female" is also crucified in the cross (404). The reason that this is the essential good news of the Gospel is that these competing elements (Jew and Gentile, sacred and profane, male and female, Law and Not-Law) only lead to enslavement. But in Christ, these distinctions are put to death so that God has truly acted in Jesus Christ to liberate all humanity from such enslavement. This liberation is precisely what has been accomplished in Christ. And this is particularly important and revolutionary for me because I have personally felt the continual enslavement of such ever-present distinctions maintained and defended not only in the world but also in the Church, not least of which being the distinction between male and female. With the pervasiveness of complimentarianism in evangelicalism that violently surfaces every now and again through happenings like John Piper's assertions about a supposed "masculine Christianity", I am reminded of the need for the Church to hear again and again the freedom of the Gospel that Paul proclaims so fiercely all throughout the book of Galatians. To return to the distinctions listed above including those between men and women, one not only forfeits the liberation won for humanity in Christ, but one becomes enslaved once again to the dualities that separate humanity. My prayer is that the Church can hear anew Paul's radical call to recognize the death of such distinctions that completely and finally find their termination in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Liberation of the Gospel.
After a really amazing Barth seminar today due in no small part to David Congdon's fantastic presentation, I was inspired to continue reading J. Louis Martyn's Galatians commentary over dinner this evening. I simply wanted to note that I never cease to be amazed at Martyn's analysis of Galatians 3:28 where Paul declares that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Martyn helps to illuminate the radicality of the Gospel's liberation from these very categorical distinctions in Jesus Christ in the following excerpt with exceptional lucidity: