Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released

Started by RPG, November 22, 2017, 01:52:14 PM

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readselerttoo

#75
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:22:17 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 02:30:13 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 01:47:55 AM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 12:30:44 AM
ELCA social statements are descriptive and serve the purpose for opinion only.  I don't believe that they help or hurt.  Like opinions of the court they may or may not influence the final verdict.  God is not happy with opinio legis.  God wants perfect, thorough and constant justice NOW.  God does not stand our opinions and is waiting angrily for us to do right.  Preaching of Gods law says that we need to all repent now!  See Romans 1 and 3.  ELCA social statements continue to put off the job of calling each person individually and collectively to repentance.  These statements as descriptive purport to set readers at a distance so that they can be the judges rather than be placed under judgment which is a sinner's proper place to be.   A church needs to do that instead of churning out more fodder for human-to-human activity which is the Kantian project and not Gods project.

Apologies requested for bad punctuation...my editor went to bed! Lol


The Law as a call that we can't perfectly keep the law which leads us to repentance is one use of the Law. The Law as a call to improve our civil righteousness, which we can do to some extent is another use of the Law.

Nope.  The accusatory nature of the law remains valid under both uses.  From Romans 3:   "...with the law comes the knowledge of sin."

The law is not simply informative.


And curbing and guiding behaviors remains valid. The knowledge of sin is not the only thing God uses the law for.


Romans 3:21 says that the law and prophets bear witness to the righteousness of God. Romans 3:31 says: "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." (ESV)


Romans 13:8-10 (boldface added)


"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor, there love is the fulfilling of the law."


Paul expects believers to fulfill the law by loving one another. The difference is that we no longer seek to use the law to justify ourselves. We still use it to curb and guide our behaviors as we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves.


1 Timothy 1:8 states that "the law is good if one uses it lawfully." It then goes on to talk about how the law can curb the behaviors of sinners.

comments to the bold above:  You are taking Romans 3:21 out of context.  After St. Paul puts a nail in the coffin of the law's ability to gain righteousness (ie.  the law can only lead to the knowledge of sin), he says that APART FROM LAW a righteousness of God has appeared.  The Greek preposition for APART FROM has the nuance of a radical break from what came before (rightousness based on the law) to what is new and mutually exclusive righteousness.  This righteousness has no foundation on the type of righteousness which the law claims is based only upon itself.  The new type of righteousenss (although hinted at by the former law and prophets) is based on Christ's substitutionary death for sinners which is part of the unique New Testament Gospel.  It has no relation to the law except that it is assumed into Christ and taken away from us through his death on the cross.  It is a new righteousness not based on the law of love ala Leviticus.  As an exegete you need to practice on your interpretive skills by reading in context.

readselerttoo

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:48:14 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 11:48:42 AM
Preaching of God's law is more than setting forth descriptive or normative behaviors (civil righteousness as evident in ELCA social statements).  Preaching of the Law should be such that it kills the sinner and allows no wriggle room for self-justification.  To be set before God's righteousness is to acknowledge that one who is baptized into Christ is baptized into Christ's death, first.  It is to face one's lack of foresight into one's own tragic nature as a sinner who does not have a standing before God's face.  Descriptive or normative statements like pure science only set the sinner away from facing the truth of oneself under God's righteousness.  Descriptive statements like ELCA social justice documents presuppose the knowledge of God and proceed to tell the rest of us how to live (normative statements).  By describing and policing behavior, they only push folks into a dream-state in which one believes one is safely away from facing one's personal accountability before God in all things.  If folks realized their need for personal repentance constantly there wouldn't be time for making ELCA social statements.  As 1 Thess. 5 says: 

"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters,[a] you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, 'There is peace and security', then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!"


ELCA needs to quit placing us in a fantasy where we live in a neutral situation before God, quit following the rest of culture by self-medicating us, and do the real work of the church by doing the thankless job of exposing our situation as sinners so the real comfort of the Gospel can be heard!


We are in the midst of hearing three parables that seem quite clear that there are expectations of God's servants during the time we are waiting for Christ to return. Some of those expectations are about the ways we are to treat other people. There is no mention of "faith" in Matthew 25:31-46. The "sheep" inherit eternal life because of the help they have given to the needy. The question is whether or not the "sheep" are meant to represent believers (who help the needy) or if they represent pagans who act lovingly towards needy believers (Christ's brothers).

I had bean and cheese tacos for supper this evening.   ???

readselerttoo

Regarding Romans 3:31...

The law is still effective for sinners who will not hear or believe this new righteousness from God in the Gospel.  The law is upheld because we also remain sinners in this life.  The tension between the two can never be smoothed out by trying to level out the discrepancy through language tricks (see Karl Barth) nor through jettisoning one from the other in terms of validity.

In our Christian preaching the Gospel always has the last word, though.

readselerttoo

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:42:37 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 24, 2017, 10:51:18 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 01:47:55 AM
The Law as a call that we can't perfectly keep the law which leads us to repentance is one use of the Law. The Law as a call to improve our civil righteousness, which we can do to some extent is another use of the Law.

Which should predominate in the Church, preaching that seeks to improve civil righteousness of preaching that points to the righteousness of faith?


Since the righteousness of faith was given to us in baptism and affirmed every week by God in Holy Communion, we might not have to say a lot about that in sermons. That gift of righteousness is already ours. A simple reminder each week along with receiving Christ's body and blood is probably sufficient. It's our relationship with other people that continues to be problematic.

I am not sure you truly understand the importance of Christian preaching.  You seem to see preaching as simply relaying information.  It is not.  Christian preaching is engaging in a war witnessed by the hearers.  The war is very real to those who are terrified by the situation they are in and because of the way people treat one another.  Simple dictums like "Love your neighbor" will not work.  To use exclusively descriptive and normative speech is to give Satan more power to overturn any gains made by the Gospel.  In fact Christian preaching should illustrate the killing of the sinner and the raising of the new person who is always connected to Christ in his passion, death and resurrection.  Jesus says:  "...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."  (from Mark 10).

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: DCharlton on November 24, 2017, 06:05:21 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:42:37 PM
Since the righteousness of faith was given to us in baptism and affirmed every week by God in Holy Communion, we might not have to say a lot about that in sermons. That gift of righteousness is already ours. A simple reminder each week along with receiving Christ's body and blood is probably sufficient. It's our relationship with other people that continues to be problematic.

Sometimes you outdo yourself. ???  If the righteousness of faith is such a given, then the office of Word and Sacrament is obsolete.  In fact the Church is obsolete.  The Church has to find something helpful to do to justify its existence. 

In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary.  We then frantically seek out a role that will justify the time and money dedicated to the organization and the salaries that depend on it.  Social services and political advocacy is now our raison d'etre.  I'm not even sure if this rises to the level of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.


Are you saying that the righteousness by faith is not a given - that God didn't do it all at our baptisms?


What do you suggest that we do to get more righteousness by faith?
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Richard Johnson on November 24, 2017, 07:59:27 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 24, 2017, 06:05:21 PM


In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary. 

Agree. A couple of years after I graduated from Yale Divinity School and begun parish ministry, I bumped into Prof. Paul Holmer at an event. "Well, how are you?" he asked, with the customary twinkle in his eye. "Are you preaching the gospel, or have you found something better?"


Exactly. There's absolutely nothing we can do to improve the righteousness God has given us by grace through faith. There's nothing better than to remind people of what God did at their baptisms and what God is doing for us in Holy Communion. There's a whole lot we can do to improve the ways we show love to our neighbors and self.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 08:31:20 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:22:17 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 02:30:13 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 01:47:55 AM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 12:30:44 AM
ELCA social statements are descriptive and serve the purpose for opinion only.  I don't believe that they help or hurt.  Like opinions of the court they may or may not influence the final verdict.  God is not happy with opinio legis.  God wants perfect, thorough and constant justice NOW.  God does not stand our opinions and is waiting angrily for us to do right.  Preaching of Gods law says that we need to all repent now!  See Romans 1 and 3.  ELCA social statements continue to put off the job of calling each person individually and collectively to repentance.  These statements as descriptive purport to set readers at a distance so that they can be the judges rather than be placed under judgment which is a sinner's proper place to be.   A church needs to do that instead of churning out more fodder for human-to-human activity which is the Kantian project and not Gods project.

Apologies requested for bad punctuation...my editor went to bed! Lol


The Law as a call that we can't perfectly keep the law which leads us to repentance is one use of the Law. The Law as a call to improve our civil righteousness, which we can do to some extent is another use of the Law.

Nope.  The accusatory nature of the law remains valid under both uses.  From Romans 3:   "...with the law comes the knowledge of sin."

The law is not simply informative.


And curbing and guiding behaviors remains valid. The knowledge of sin is not the only thing God uses the law for.


Romans 3:21 says that the law and prophets bear witness to the righteousness of God. Romans 3:31 says: "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." (ESV)


Romans 13:8-10 (boldface added)


"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor, there love is the fulfilling of the law."


Paul expects believers to fulfill the law by loving one another. The difference is that we no longer seek to use the law to justify ourselves. We still use it to curb and guide our behaviors as we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves.


1 Timothy 1:8 states that "the law is good if one uses it lawfully." It then goes on to talk about how the law can curb the behaviors of sinners.

comments to the bold above:  You are taking Romans 3:21 out of context.  After St. Paul puts a nail in the coffin of the law's ability to gain righteousness (ie.  the law can only lead to the knowledge of sin), he says that APART FROM LAW a righteousness of God has appeared.  The Greek preposition for APART FROM has the nuance of a radical break from what came before (rightousness based on the law) to what is new and mutually exclusive righteousness.  This righteousness has no foundation on the type of righteousness which the law claims is based only upon itself.  The new type of righteousenss (although hinted at by the former law and prophets) is based on Christ's substitutionary death for sinners which is part of the unique New Testament Gospel.  It has no relation to the law except that it is assumed into Christ and taken away from us through his death on the cross.  It is a new righteousness not based on the law of love ala Leviticus.  As an exegete you need to practice on your interpretive skills by reading in context.


You've changed the topic from "the law" to "righteousness". I'm talking about uses of the Law (and making us righteous is not one of the uses).


χωρὶς νόμου raises all kinds of questions. What νόμος? Is Paul limiting it to the Torah? Is he making a statement about all laws? E.g., we don't become righteous before God by driving the speed limit.


What does χωρὶς νόμου modify? Is it to be connected to δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ; that there is a righteousness of God with law and now a righteousness of God apart from law? Does it modify πεφανέρωται? The righteousness of God had been revealed by the law; but not it is revealed apart from the law (perhaps referring to the righteousness of God seen in Jesus)?

The the "now" event undo the earlier event or is it in addition to?

There are some scholars who believe that there continues to be a righteousness of God that comes through the Law for the Jews. That was God's promise to them and God can't go back on his word. In addition to that, there is a righteousness of God separated from the law for Gentiles. Others believe that the righteousness of God in Jesus nullifies the earlier promises.

Or, using the other approach, the righteousness of God (=what God deems is right) had been revealed on Mount Sinai. but now the righteousness of God has been revealed in Jesus without the law. Is the revelation through Jesus in addition to the revelation on Sinai or does it nullify and replace God's Word on the tablets?

If the only righteousness that counts is the one God gives us, why should we bother to try and live moral lives before others? Why strive for civil righteousness if it just doesn't matter to God? Has God abandoned the civil use of the law?
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 09:00:44 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:42:37 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 24, 2017, 10:51:18 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 01:47:55 AM
The Law as a call that we can't perfectly keep the law which leads us to repentance is one use of the Law. The Law as a call to improve our civil righteousness, which we can do to some extent is another use of the Law.

Which should predominate in the Church, preaching that seeks to improve civil righteousness of preaching that points to the righteousness of faith?


Since the righteousness of faith was given to us in baptism and affirmed every week by God in Holy Communion, we might not have to say a lot about that in sermons. That gift of righteousness is already ours. A simple reminder each week along with receiving Christ's body and blood is probably sufficient. It's our relationship with other people that continues to be problematic.

I am not sure you truly understand the importance of Christian preaching.  You seem to see preaching as simply relaying information. 


Huh? That's certainly news to me. I've repeatedly talked about the "inspiration" of God's Word to refer to their power as our Confession of Faith states: "Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world."   


I've occasionally talked the thinking of oral communicators who stress what the words "do" to hearers rather than what they "say" to them.


Quote
The war is very real to those who are terrified by the situation they are in and because of the way people treat one another.  Simple dictums like "Love your neighbor" will not work.


Telling the people that they've done bad, but God forgives them in Jesus Christ doesn't work either. People need to learn to treat one another better. We can improve in the ways we love our neighbors. Just declaring, "You're dead in your sins, but God raises you to a new life" doesn't change anything in the world. What should that new life look like in the midst of the sinful world? We are called "saints" - "holy people" - and that implies that we are to be different than ordinary, common people. God has filled us with the Holy Spirit. God has made us holy people. That is to change the way we live our lives.


Jesus says:  "...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."  (from Mark 10).



1. We aren't Jesus. What he did, we can't do. We cannot save the world. Our deaths would not bring redemption.


2. Before Jesus said this about himself, he talked about the disciples (us): "You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. But that's not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servants. Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all." (CEB) Are you going to criticize Jesus because he told them to serve one another and to slaves to all people? That they are not to live like the ordinary rulers of the world? No gospel there.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 08:45:41 PM
Regarding Romans 3:31...

The law is still effective for sinners who will not hear or believe this new righteousness from God in the Gospel.  The law is upheld because we also remain sinners in this life.  The tension between the two can never be smoothed out by trying to level out the discrepancy through language tricks (see Karl Barth) nor through jettisoning one from the other in terms of validity.

In our Christian preaching the Gospel always has the last word, though.


I agree. The Gospel always has the last word. It is only the Gospel that brings salvation. Without it there is no new life for our hearers. However, this doesn't mean that the Word of God doesn't also come to us as Law. There is a place for preaching the Law (and the proper uses of it). It isn't the last word. It isn't the saving word. It may be the Word of God.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Team Hesse

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 11:34:34 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 08:45:41 PM
Regarding Romans 3:31...

The law is still effective for sinners who will not hear or believe this new righteousness from God in the Gospel.  The law is upheld because we also remain sinners in this life.  The tension between the two can never be smoothed out by trying to level out the discrepancy through language tricks (see Karl Barth) nor through jettisoning one from the other in terms of validity.

In our Christian preaching the Gospel always has the last word, though.





I agree. The Gospel always has the last word. It is only the Gospel that brings salvation. Without it there is no new life for our hearers. However, this doesn't mean that the Word of God doesn't also come to us as Law. There is a place for preaching the Law (and the proper uses of it). It isn't the last word. It isn't the saving word. It may be the Word of God.


May???? :o


Lou

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Team Hesse on November 25, 2017, 09:13:29 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 11:34:34 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 08:45:41 PM
Regarding Romans 3:31...

The law is still effective for sinners who will not hear or believe this new righteousness from God in the Gospel.  The law is upheld because we also remain sinners in this life.  The tension between the two can never be smoothed out by trying to level out the discrepancy through language tricks (see Karl Barth) nor through jettisoning one from the other in terms of validity.

In our Christian preaching the Gospel always has the last word, though.





I agree. The Gospel always has the last word. It is only the Gospel that brings salvation. Without it there is no new life for our hearers. However, this doesn't mean that the Word of God doesn't also come to us as Law. There is a place for preaching the Law (and the proper uses of it). It isn't the last word. It isn't the saving word. It may be the Word of God.


May? ??? :o


Lou


If obeying the law is preached as a means of salvation it is not the word of God.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Donald_Kirchner

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 10:36:09 PM
Quote from: Richard Johnson on November 24, 2017, 07:59:27 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 24, 2017, 06:05:21 PM


In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary. 

Agree. A couple of years after I graduated from Yale Divinity School and begun parish ministry, I bumped into Prof. Paul Holmer at an event. "Well, how are you?" he asked, with the customary twinkle in his eye. "Are you preaching the gospel, or have you found something better?"

Exactly. There's absolutely nothing we can do to improve the righteousness God has given us by grace through faith. There's nothing better than to remind people of what God did at their baptisms and what God is doing for us in Holy Communion. There's a whole lot we can do to improve the ways we show love to our neighbors and self.

How interesting, putting the best construction on things, to see Brian promoting the 3rd use of the law.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

readselerttoo

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 10:33:37 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 24, 2017, 06:05:21 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:42:37 PM
Since the righteousness of faith was given to us in baptism and affirmed every week by God in Holy Communion, we might not have to say a lot about that in sermons. That gift of righteousness is already ours. A simple reminder each week along with receiving Christ's body and blood is probably sufficient. It's our relationship with other people that continues to be problematic.

Sometimes you outdo yourself. ???  If the righteousness of faith is such a given, then the office of Word and Sacrament is obsolete.  In fact the Church is obsolete.  The Church has to find something helpful to do to justify its existence. 

In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary.  We then frantically seek out a role that will justify the time and money dedicated to the organization and the salaries that depend on it.  Social services and political advocacy is now our raison d'etre.  I'm not even sure if this rises to the level of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.


Are you saying that the righteousness by faith is not a given - that God didn't do it all at our baptisms?


What do you suggest that we do to get more righteousness by faith?


The preaching is also a public matter calling people of all types into faith.  There are others who are not so confident in their righteousness as you.  We need to hear what God has done in Christ to help us gain the confidence in Jesus.

DCharlton

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 10:33:37 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 24, 2017, 06:05:21 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:42:37 PM
Since the righteousness of faith was given to us in baptism and affirmed every week by God in Holy Communion, we might not have to say a lot about that in sermons. That gift of righteousness is already ours. A simple reminder each week along with receiving Christ's body and blood is probably sufficient. It's our relationship with other people that continues to be problematic.

Sometimes you outdo yourself. ???  If the righteousness of faith is such a given, then the office of Word and Sacrament is obsolete.  In fact the Church is obsolete.  The Church has to find something helpful to do to justify its existence. 

In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary.  We then frantically seek out a role that will justify the time and money dedicated to the organization and the salaries that depend on it.  Social services and political advocacy is now our raison d'etre.  I'm not even sure if this rises to the level of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Are you saying that the righteousness by faith is not a given - that God didn't do it all at our baptisms?

What do you suggest that we do to get more righteousness by faith?

Article V seems to say that the righteousness of faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, given where and when it pleases God, through the Word and the Sacraments.  The righteousness of faith is not a given.  In fact, apart from the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament, the righteousness of faith would not be given at all. 

Only when Article V is forgotten or ignored is it possible for a church claiming the title Lutheran to think that preaching political righteousness is its primary mission.
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

readselerttoo

#89
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 11:16:18 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 08:31:20 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:22:17 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 02:30:13 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 01:47:55 AM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 12:30:44 AM
ELCA social statements are descriptive and serve the purpose for opinion only.  I don't believe that they help or hurt.  Like opinions of the court they may or may not influence the final verdict.  God is not happy with opinio legis.  God wants perfect, thorough and constant justice NOW.  God does not stand our opinions and is waiting angrily for us to do right.  Preaching of Gods law says that we need to all repent now!  See Romans 1 and 3.  ELCA social statements continue to put off the job of calling each person individually and collectively to repentance.  These statements as descriptive purport to set readers at a distance so that they can be the judges rather than be placed under judgment which is a sinner's proper place to be.   A church needs to do that instead of churning out more fodder for human-to-human activity which is the Kantian project and not Gods project.

Apologies requested for bad punctuation...my editor went to bed! Lol


The Law as a call that we can't perfectly keep the law which leads us to repentance is one use of the Law. The Law as a call to improve our civil righteousness, which we can do to some extent is another use of the Law.

Nope.  The accusatory nature of the law remains valid under both uses.  From Romans 3:   "...with the law comes the knowledge of sin."

The law is not simply informative.


And curbing and guiding behaviors remains valid. The knowledge of sin is not the only thing God uses the law for.


Romans 3:21 says that the law and prophets bear witness to the righteousness of God. Romans 3:31 says: "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." (ESV)


Romans 13:8-10 (boldface added)


"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor, there love is the fulfilling of the law."


Paul expects believers to fulfill the law by loving one another. The difference is that we no longer seek to use the law to justify ourselves. We still use it to curb and guide our behaviors as we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves.


1 Timothy 1:8 states that "the law is good if one uses it lawfully." It then goes on to talk about how the law can curb the behaviors of sinners.

comments to the bold above:  You are taking Romans 3:21 out of context.  After St. Paul puts a nail in the coffin of the law's ability to gain righteousness (ie.  the law can only lead to the knowledge of sin), he says that APART FROM LAW a righteousness of God has appeared.  The Greek preposition for APART FROM has the nuance of a radical break from what came before (rightousness based on the law) to what is new and mutually exclusive righteousness.  This righteousness has no foundation on the type of righteousness which the law claims is based only upon itself.  The new type of righteousenss (although hinted at by the former law and prophets) is based on Christ's substitutionary death for sinners which is part of the unique New Testament Gospel.  It has no relation to the law except that it is assumed into Christ and taken away from us through his death on the cross.  It is a new righteousness not based on the law of love ala Leviticus.  As an exegete you need to practice on your interpretive skills by reading in context.


You've changed the topic from "the law" to "righteousness". I'm talking about uses of the Law (and making us righteous is not one of the uses).


χωρὶς νόμου raises all kinds of questions. What νόμος? Is Paul limiting it to the Torah? Is he making a statement about all laws? E.g., we don't become righteous before God by driving the speed limit.


What does χωρὶς νόμου modify? Is it to be connected to δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ; that there is a righteousness of God with law and now a righteousness of God apart from law? Does it modify πεφανέρωται? The righteousness of God had been revealed by the law; but not it is revealed apart from the law (perhaps referring to the righteousness of God seen in Jesus)?

The the "now" event undo the earlier event or is it in addition to?

There are some scholars who believe that there continues to be a righteousness of God that comes through the Law for the Jews. That was God's promise to them and God can't go back on his word. In addition to that, there is a righteousness of God separated from the law for Gentiles. Others believe that the righteousness of God in Jesus nullifies the earlier promises.

Or, using the other approach, the righteousness of God (=what God deems is right) had been revealed on Mount Sinai. but now the righteousness of God has been revealed in Jesus without the law. Is the revelation through Jesus in addition to the revelation on Sinai or does it nullify and replace God's Word on the tablets?

If the only righteousness that counts is the one God gives us, why should we bother to try and live moral lives before others? Why strive for civil righteousness if it just doesn't matter to God? Has God abandoned the civil use of the law?

There is so much to respond to regarding this I only have time for the bold-face above.  And so I'll comment on that:

Righteousness before God comes to all of us in one way:  the righteousness of God through the law.  It terrifies sinners because God demands so much and God wants this done thoroughly and constantly.  Otherwise there is wrath against sin and sinners (Romans 1).
For those who have been baptized into Christ and in their faith, God has trumped this righteousness and replaced it with God's righteousness which is exclusively in Christ who is for us and not against us.  Living before the face of the Living God either through his law or through his Gospel is a matter of living before the face of a living Person who is in relationship with us.  Yes, we should be moral people but our futile attempts at morality (see Kant vs. his critic Nietzsche) lead toward self-justification rather than living-for-others. 

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