Saturday, September 19, 2009
Blogging Through Romans 2: 25-29
Romans 2: 25-29
In this section Paul is confronting outward appearance verses inward conviction and personal commitment. This may seem like a silly argument, left in the dusty pages of a 2000 year old document. But male circumcision was a BIG deal in the early church. Whether male gentile converts to Christians needed to be circumcised was THE most controversial issue of the time. Even more controversial than the debates over homosexuality is in our ELCIC.
Paul is hinging the argument of his whole letter on this little passage. For Paul, the debate all comes down to HOW or IF gentile converts to Christianity needed to observe Jewish Law. And Jewish Law specifically and clearly said that men needed to be circumcised as a sign of their covenant to God (ouch!).
For Paul, it didn’t make sense for people to go through the motions of religion yet lack faith and commitment. And that’s how he saw some of the Jewish Christians. As those who put meaningless demands on those who came to faith in Jesus as saviour.
What demands do WE put on people? What do WE make people conform to in order for them to be part of our community? What things do WE love more than the people God loves?
It’s a hard question if you think about it. Just as Jewish Law and practice defined what Judaism is and was, we Lutheran Christians have our doctrine to define us. We have our non-negotiables in our tradition - those things that make us who we are.
But what happens when those things become stumbling blocks to people? At what point do our traditions need to die in order that people may live?
I think that’s the question Paul was asking in this passage.