Thursday, May 8, 2008

Diminished Distinctions, Diminished Glory?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.--Galatians 3:28

It's amazing how easily confused this verse can be.

The Replacement Theologian claims the Jew/Gentile distinction no longer exists.

The egalitarian will claim the male/female distinction no longer exists.

But if you asked a slave in the first century, he would tell you that hermeneutic didn't work for him. And Paul would say likewise.

Clearly the distinctions exist but they do not keep one from coming to Christ. [I am quite thankful--after coming to Christ--that my wife remained female, and I male.] Paul is stating that these differences remain but do not translate into rank or availability of life in Christ.

We've seen that God's glory is visible in distinctions. We've also seen that He has always desired His gospel to reach the nations. Clearly, we should seek to proclaim His name to all peoples. Suppose I travel to Indonesia to reach the Minangkabau, should I turn away the Madura? Would I not be missing the point of the mission if I turned someone away because they aren't my "target group?" In fact, what if the Minangkabau and Madura peoples do not usually relate peaceably (I do not know if they do). Would it not be glorious if they fellowship in the same assembly?

So, what about here in the states? Are we not making the same error when we "target" a certain class, age, affinity, education or social group at the expense of another?

But if we build our ministry on the message of Christ, we may find our ministries looking a lot like the people around us...but some of the glory will be in those who do not naturally "fit in" with us.

God forgive us when we see these differences as obstacles to growth, instead of opportunities to make His glory most seen.

8 comments:

Brad said...

The only person I've ever heard say that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile is Paul, but I've never heard of a replacement theologian who understands this to mean that the Jew/Gentile distinction has been destroyed in any absolute sense. If I ever meet one who says that, however, I'll let him know you have a good argument for him :)

danny2 said...

of course you don't believe in the absolute sense. (even a homosexual--claiming this verse as their justification--will acknowledge they still see a difference between men/women, for they prefer their same sex.)

however, you do work pretty hard to diminish the distinctions.

even the good willed person who claims "i don't even think of you as a black man" (in their attempt toward racial harmony) betrays their very case. by making that statement, they acknowledge that they actually do notice color.

absolute abolishment of distinction is actually impossible. but ignoring it, or diminishing the distinction happens all the time.

Keith said...

Hi guys . . .

Seems like we've had this discussion before! So, I repeat myself when I suggest that the necessary distinction is not between Jew and Gentile, but between Israel and the Church (consisting of both Jew and Gentile in one body) as presently distinct but eventually unified (in the future, but with some overlap now) programs of God. The danger of replacement theology is that it attempts to replace the promises of God to Israel that are yet to be fulfilled with a reduced, mysticized version of the promises fulfilled in the experience of the Church.

danny2 said...

good distinction keith.

thank you

Brad said...

I have, no doubt, worked very hard to diminish one particular distinction between Jew and Gentile, namely that which makes the one an heir of all God's covenant promises in Christ and the other an heir of only some. It's a labor I hope to continue.

Will no one tell me how to include links in comments!? I feel so inept.

Keith said...

For example, certainly the Church (consisting of Jew and Gentile) today has not received the fulfillment of the covenant promise of the land between the Euphrates and the Nile rivers (Genesis 15:18). That is a promise that is yet to be fulfilled, must come to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph who are also spiritually regenerated, and of which the Church will be a participant/beneficiary by virtue of its grafting in to Israel's patriarchal covenant promises.

Darby Livingston said...

"For example, certainly the Church (consisting of Jew and Gentile) today has not received the fulfillment of the covenant promise of the land between the Euphrates and the Nile rivers (Genesis 15:18)."

All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole Scripture is Gospel-centered - not chronologically, in that other events came before it - but in logical priority. All the promises of God (Old and New Testament) find their 'yes' in Christ. I would recommend a great blog entitled "The Vossed World" by our friend Chad Bresson from Clearcreek Chapel for a load of thinking on this issue.

Keith said...

"The whole Scripture is Gospel-centered." - Yes and Amen!!

"All the promises of God (Old and New Testament) find their 'yes' in Christ." - Yes and Amen!!

"All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ" should be revised to "have been, are, or will be fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."