Poll

How do you interpret and apply Galatians 3:23--29?

The law can no longer condemn those who are in Christ.
24 (66.7%)
The law no longer applies to those who are in Christ, though we live by the New Testament law of love.
2 (5.6%)
No law of any kind applies to or restricts the Christian, who is free to do anything in Christ.
1 (2.8%)
I'm not sure how to interpret and apply Gal 3:23--29.
3 (8.3%)
I don't agree with any of the options and will add a post about my views.
6 (16.7%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Author Topic: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods  (Read 4283 times)

Edward Engelbrecht

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Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« on: August 28, 2010, 08:40:42 AM »
I believe a key interpretive issue for the new church bodies, such as the NALC, will be how they understand and apply Gal 3:23--29.

"23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 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. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (ESV)

The interpretation of this text is what got the ELCA into so much division and trouble. People argued that it meant that the Gospel freed Christians from the natural law, so that distinctions in creation and society no longer applied or mattered. This argument allowed first for the ordination of women but shortly also led to the ordination of homosexuals since men and women became more or less interchangeable.

Dr. Andrew Das is writing the upcoming Concordia Commentary on Galatians and he will most likely make conservative arguments. I wonder who the interpreters from the new synods are and what they are/will say about this text.

Team Hesse

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2010, 09:48:01 AM »
I believe a key interpretive issue for the new church bodies, such as the NALC, will be how they understand and apply Gal 3:23--29.

"23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 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. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (ESV)

The interpretation of this text is what got the ELCA into so much division and trouble. People argued that it meant that the Gospel freed Christians from the natural law, so that distinctions in creation and society no longer applied or mattered. This argument allowed first for the ordination of women but shortly also led to the ordination of homosexuals since men and women became more or less interchangeable.

Dr. Andrew Das is writing the upcoming Concordia Commentary on Galatians and he will most likely make conservative arguments. I wonder who the interpreters from the new synods are and what they are/will say about this text.


Actually the correct distinction of law and gospel is something that all Lutheran denominations, pastors, and lay members will be wrestling with until the parousia. At least that's my guess. Anyone who thinks they have this one completely figured out has probably fallen into the sin of pride. There have been really important books written on the subject - dontcha know!

Lou

Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2010, 03:21:01 PM »
I believe a key interpretive issue for the new church bodies, such as the NALC, will be how they understand and apply Gal 3:23--29.

"23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 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. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (ESV)

The interpretation of this text is what got the ELCA into so much division and trouble. People argued that it meant that the Gospel freed Christians from the natural law, so that distinctions in creation and society no longer applied or mattered. This argument allowed first for the ordination of women but shortly also led to the ordination of homosexuals since men and women became more or less interchangeable.

Dr. Andrew Das is writing the upcoming Concordia Commentary on Galatians and he will most likely make conservative arguments. I wonder who the interpreters from the new synods are and what they are/will say about this text.


Actually the correct distinction of law and gospel is something that all Lutheran denominations, pastors, and lay members will be wrestling with until the parousia. At least that's my guess. Anyone who thinks they have this one completely figured out has probably fallen into the sin of pride. There have been really important books written on the subject - dontcha know!

Lou

My question was what interpreters in the newer synods are saying about this text. I do expect that it will be an on-going concern.

Tom Eckstein

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2010, 10:33:16 PM »
     I agree that there is a direct connection between the interpretation of Galatians 3:23-29 in liberal Lutheran circles and the ordination of women to the pastoral office.  The same interpretation of Galatians 3:23-29 also lead to the affirmation of the ordianation of practiciing homosexuals.  I plan to deal with this issue of hermeneutics in a section of the book I'm working on re: ministry to those who struggle with homosexuality (which I should have completed in about a month).
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.

Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2010, 08:12:50 AM »
    I agree that there is a direct connection between the interpretation of Galatians 3:23-29 in liberal Lutheran circles and the ordination of women to the pastoral office.  The same interpretation of Galatians 3:23-29 also lead to the affirmation of the ordianation of practiciing homosexuals.  I plan to deal with this issue of hermeneutics in a section of the book I'm working on re: ministry to those who struggle with homosexuality (which I should have completed in about a month).

Good to learn about your reseach, Tom.

I'm excited to see the new synods step away from the interpretations that prevailed in the ELCA, which tended toward antinomianism against not just the Old Testament norms or the Law of Moses but even against natural law that was affirmed in New Testament teaching. While I'm excited for the new synods, I'm also concerned that this approach to interpretation might continue, which would leave the door open for the interpretations and practices that prevailed in the ELCA. I'm thinking that the matter of ordaining practicing homosexuals was only a symptom and I'm wondering whether they will address the root cause of antinomianism. What happens with Gal 3:23--29 is key.

James Gustafson

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2010, 09:57:29 AM »
As to the Galatians question only, I have no opinion of the new synods, yet, but I think the Galatians question can be edified by what Paul says in Romans.

Romans 6: 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness (ESV) and verse 18: having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Paul elaborated on our freedom in Christ by pointing out that we must choose to be slaves of obedience, or else we remain slaves of sin.  I like to simply refer to it as slaves of righteousness.  I think it's a costly omission to remember the freedom granted to us but then forget the responsibilities that come with that Freedom.  Something like a slave in a kingdom, perhaps the Moses scenario, once adopted into the royal family becomes a prince and heir, they would be mistaken to think that everything becomes available to them without expectation.  No, the King expects the newly adopted to become good stewards, to put the needs of the people before their own needs, they are no longer peasants under the Law but now they are slaves to the needs of the people and they are to exemplify for the kingdom the righteousness of their Father.  They don't get to redefine what is righteousness, righteousness is the standard established by God, the Father, for the peasants and the Princes.  In a way, the newly adopted sons could be held to a higher standard than slaves are. 

I think Galatians is forcefully trying to remind us that we are not under the law as slaves, and neither are we protected by it as our guardian (we don't have a Prince to watch over us anymore, we are directly accountable to our Lord ourselves), we become the guardian of righteousness (we become the Prince ourselves), it doesn't do away with righteousness and obedience, it promotes us up in the hierarchy of observing obedience and righteousness.

(I'm not positive my example is a good one, I'm open to corrective criticism).

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2010, 11:52:50 AM »
The questions don't apply. For Lutherans, the issues related to the Law centered on the proper uses of the Law. Theologically, the Law needs to condemn sinners, but only as a precursor to the Gospel which removes the condemnation through Christ by killing the sin, forgiving the sin, giving new life. Civilly, Christians need to live under the Law for the sake of good order in society. The Law curbs evil behaviors and promotes good behaviors.

Thus, I believe that we judge commands as to how well they help bring order to society and/or how well they expose our sins and our sinful nature.

It is a misuse of the Law to think that obedience makes us more moral or righteous or saintly people before God. In Paul's arguments, it's a misuse of the Law to compel or force or require a believer to be circumcised (2:3). Paul did not require Titus to be circumcised, (but he did have Timothy circumcised for the sake of Timothy's evangelical work among Jews -- Acts 16:3).

I think that in simple terms, Paul says that the Gospels removes the "have to's" from the Law. He is telling the Galatians that to say: "You have to be circumcised to be saved" is a false gospel. Does that then imply that we cannot require any "have to's" for our salvation? In other words, our reasons for doing something cannot come from a compulsion of the Law. Paul has Timothy circumcised not because the Law says that he has to. Paul had other reasons.

Luther takes that approach to Holy Communion in the Catechisms. He removes the legalistic "have to" aspect of it; but replaces it with: Look at all God gives us in the sacrament, who wouldn't want to receive what God gives.

For Paul, the relationship of Law and salvation is like asking, "What do you have to do to be a child of your parents?" It's a meaningless question because the parent/child relationship is based on (1) being born to the parents; or (2) being adopted by the parents (both images are used in Scriptures of the relationship God establishes with us. Neither of these center on what the child does -- but on what the parents do.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 12:10:41 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Mike Bennett

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2010, 12:01:03 PM »
The questions don't apply. For Lutherans, the issues related to the Law centered on the proper uses of the Law. Theologically, the Law needs to condemn sinners, but only as a precursor to the Gospel which removes the condemnation through Christ by killing the sin, forgiving the sin, giving new life. Civilly, Christians need to live under the Law for the sake of good order in society. The Law curbs evil behaviors and promotes good behaviors.

Thus, I believe that we judge commands as to how well they help bring order to society and/or how well they expose our sins and our sinful nature.

It is a misuse of the Law to think that obedience makes us more moral or righteous or saintly people before God.


1. Another example of how denial of the Third Use leads to trouble.  With no Third Use, evidently, your view is that the questions being asked are useless.

2. Nobody here has suggested that obedience does any of the things you've listed as misuse of the Law.  Obedience to the One Who is the source of everything I have, including my very survival from now until lunch time, requires no ulterior motives.

But we've been over this ground countless times.

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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2010, 12:15:25 PM »
1. Another example of how denial of the Third Use leads to trouble.  With no Third Use, evidently, your view is that the questions being asked are useless.

To repeat again, it is not a denial of the Third Use. The Third Use means that the Law is used by God to convict Christians of their sins and sinfulness; and it is used by God to curb sinful actions of Christians and to encourage good behaviors for the sake of peace and harmony and righteousness in society.

Quote
Obedience to the One Who is the source of everything I have, including my very survival from now until lunch time, requires no ulterior motives.

Your assumption that we can obey runs counter to the theological use of the Law. Perhaps that's why a majority, at this point, see the Law as not condemning those who are in Christ. That's an antinomian position. That's rejecting the Third Use (as I was taught it).
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 12:17:04 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dan Fienen

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2010, 12:29:02 PM »

Thus, I believe that we judge commands as to how well they help bring order to society and/or how well they expose our sins and our sinful nature.

It is a misuse of the Law to think that obedience makes us more moral or righteous or saintly people before God.


So, the Ten Commandments really have become the Ten Suggestions.  They are moral principles written long ago by people in other societies that may be useful to us for exposing our sinfulness or they might help bring order to society but we need to judge how well they fit us and our society today.  Meanwhile in our enlightened state of being sophisitcated 21st Century people we might know better than our prejudiced forfathers in the faith.  We certainly have opportunities and structures in our society that they never imagnined that need understandings they never dreamed of, like PALMS relationships.

Seriously, you seem to make the applicability of all the moral statements of the Bible dependent on whether or not we decide that they are useful for us.  And once we have recognized our sinfulness, we only have to concern ourselves with keeping order in society the best way we know how other than that God has little or no concern with how we act or what we do.  We are sinners who are forgiven, end of story, go and do what you think best.

Can we make ourselves more acceptable to God by obeying His commands?  No.  On our own efforts we will never be acceptable to God and Jesus did the whole work of making us acceptable/forgiven without anything to be added from us.  However, being adopted as God's children does it please Him when we try, however feeble our efforts, to obey Him and do what He wants.  It becomes our gift of obedience to Him - gift not payment - gift of love not act coerced by threat of punishment.

It also represents our trust that what God commands in the Law is not simply arbitrary commands but actually what is good for us.  We may not always see it, but we trust that God knows a few things about humanity that we may not know ourselves.  It is also a trust that He actually caused these things to be written for our learning rather than just dropping by once in a while using the scribblings of mere men to speak to us by suggesting meanings that may or may not have been originally intended and may or may not serve as Word of God for someone else.

Dan
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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2010, 12:30:22 PM »
That's rejecting the Third Use (as I was taught it).

Or at least how you learned it.
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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2010, 12:53:14 PM »
Can we make ourselves more acceptable to God by obeying His commands?  No.  On our own efforts we will never be acceptable to God and Jesus did the whole work of making us acceptable/forgiven without anything to be added from us.  However, being adopted as God's children does it please Him when we try, however feeble our efforts, to obey Him and do what He wants.  It becomes our gift of obedience to Him - gift not payment - gift of love not act coerced by threat of punishment.

It also represents our trust that what God commands in the Law is not simply arbitrary commands but actually what is good for us.  We may not always see it, but we trust that God knows a few things about humanity that we may not know ourselves.  It is also a trust that He actually caused these things to be written for our learning rather than just dropping by once in a while using the scribblings of mere men to speak to us by suggesting meanings that may or may not have been originally intended and may or may not serve as Word of God for someone else.

Dan

I think of the Third Use as a gift request from a loved one.  I do not enjoy shopping, and I am not very creative at selecting gifts.  As a result, I very much appreciate specific requests from my wife.  I do not fear that failing to provide a "good" gift will cost me her love.  I do not fear that society will fall apart if I don't get a "good" gift for her.  If I were a better listener and spent more time thinking about her needs, I might not need such a list.  But I'm not always a great listener, and I spend a lot of my time thinking about myself.  So her list of potential gifts gives me a way of knowing what would please her, and saves me from wasting time and money on "that which does not satisfy."  Her gift of direction enables me to provide a gift which I could not have provided by relying on my own creativity or skill.  Not so that I can earn her love, not because our household could not function without it, but because people who love each other want to do good to each other.

Jon

Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2010, 01:25:46 PM »
My sense is that the Law mentioned in Galatians 3:23--29 is the Law of Moses and does not include the natural law, which continues to apply also to believers.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2010, 03:14:30 PM »

Thus, I believe that we judge commands as to how well they help bring order to society and/or how well they expose our sins and our sinful nature.

It is a misuse of the Law to think that obedience makes us more moral or righteous or saintly people before God.


So, the Ten Commandments really have become the Ten Suggestions.

Nope, never said that.


Quote
They are moral principles written long ago by people in other societies that may be useful to us for exposing our sinfulness or they might help bring order to society but we need to judge how well they fit us and our society today.

They are specifically addressed to "the house of Jacob" and "the people of Israel" (Ex 20:3) -- the people whom God brought out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery (Ex 20:2). God certainly uses the today to expose our sinfulness; and to help us live together in a peaceful and orderly society.


Quote
Seriously, you seem to make the applicability of all the moral statements of the Bible dependent on whether or not we decide that they are useful for us.  And once we have recognized our sinfulness, we only have to concern ourselves with keeping order in society the best way we know how other than that God has little or no concern with how we act or what we do.  We are sinners who are forgiven, end of story, go and do what you think best.

Repeatedly I have talked about how God uses the Law. It's now about how we decide to use them, but what God does with them. We are sinners who are forgiven. We are free to do whatever we want, but not everything is helpful or builds up others. We are free to love God with our whole lives; and free to love our neighbors as ourselves and as Christ has loved us. If we kept those commands, we wouldn't need the Ten.

Quote
Can we make ourselves more acceptable to God by obeying His commands?  No.  On our own efforts we will never be acceptable to God and Jesus did the whole work of making us acceptable/forgiven without anything to be added from us.  However, being adopted as God's children does it please Him when we try, however feeble our efforts, to obey Him and do what He wants.  It becomes our gift of obedience to Him - gift not payment - gift of love not act coerced by threat of punishment.

I agree with that.

Quote
It also represents our trust that what God commands in the Law is not simply arbitrary commands but actually what is good for us.  We may not always see it, but we trust that God knows a few things about humanity that we may not know ourselves.  It is also a trust that He actually caused these things to be written for our learning rather than just dropping by once in a while using the scribblings of mere men to speak to us by suggesting meanings that may or may not have been originally intended and may or may not serve as Word of God for someone else.

I disagree. There are OT commands that I do not believe are good for us. There are commands about slavery and having two wives. There are commands about killing off every man, woman, child, and animal in a foreign city. God's command about what to do with a rapist (he has to marry his victim and he cannot divorce her) are not good.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Galatians 3:23--29 and the Emergent Lutheran Synods
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2010, 03:15:17 PM »
That's rejecting the Third Use (as I was taught it).

Or at least how you learned it.

Others from that seminary learned the same thing as I did. Wengert, from a different seminary, in his writing about the Third Use in the Formula, says the same things that I was taught. It is not just me against the rest of the Lutheran world.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 03:16:56 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]