03 February 2008

C.J.: Galatians 3

Just an excellent message on the opening verses of Galatians 3 by C.J. Mahaney.

I am thankful for the many things I have learned from the New Perspective(s), but this message, in my opinion, goes far deeper, is more faithful to the mind and heart of the apostle, and is vastly more helpful, than anything I have yet read by advocates of the New Perspective on Galatians 3.

Our problem is not, fundamentally, exclusivism. That is a symptom of something far deeper and more hideous. I'm becoming more and more convinced of this.


Eric said...

Dane - Thanks for the great post. I don't have time to listen to the message . . . but your comments intrigue me. Can you unfold your thinking a bit more for me? What do you think the real problem is, and how is Paul addressing it?

Dane Ortlund said...

C.J. talks about the innate human propensity to earn rather than receive God's favor and the deeply counterintuitive nature of the gospel which deconstructs the heart and which must be reflected on every morning as we begin another day. He talks about how blind we are to "the legalist within" all of us.

The 'real problem' is moral independence. Wanting to contribute and thereby taking some glory for ourselves. Not wanting favors. Moral self-effort. Again and again I read NT scholarship sidelining this problem and attempting to locate Paul's deepest concern elsewhere. I believe it is anthropologically naive and deeply unfaithful to the message of both OT and NT. By this I do not mean "works of the law" = moral self-effort; law here is Torah, not doing in general. Nor do I follow Bultmann that even the attempt to do the law is itself sinful (it is doing the law "as of works" rather than "as of faith" that is the prob). But Rom 4:1-5 and 9:30-10:3 and Phil 3:3-9 and other places show us that there is a deeper problem Paul is alluding to, namely, establishing one's own rightness before God, at least in part, rather than receiving the whole and utter grace of God apart from our contribution. And that is PRIDE. I am getting exercised about this because many of the NT writers I am reading are saying things which, if they manage to convince pastors they are right, will ultimately derail and discourage many Christians who trust their pastors to open letters like Rom and Gal faithfully to them. Our main problem is not favoritism, racism, exclusivism. Our main problem is pride. Solve the latter and the former disappears.

What was the source of the Holocaust? Arrogance or exclusivism? Both: in that order.

Ethnic exclusivism is a horrid evil, just horrid, and it is all over the place today, and completely against the gospel and Paul's mind in every way. But it is not the root. It is a fruit of a deeper problem. In Rom and Gal, THE fruit, but merely a fruit nonetheless. And I think it is possible to basically manage ethnic exclusivism without truly uprooting human pride. If we deal with the pride, though, the racial problems will dissolve as a necessary consequence.

It's a problem that I see in myself. I tend to look down on other cultures. But that's only sympomatic of the more profound rebellion--namely, self-worship.

Eric said...

Thanks, Dane, that's extremely helpful, and I deeply agree with you.

I'm struck by how modern Western societies make self-worship an idol which will keep us all safe and happy - just accept, tolerate everyone as individuals, no matter what sort of individuals they happen to be (as long as they don't hurt anyone), and we'll keep things like the Holocaust from happening again. But, as you say, the problem is much deeper and the solution much more radical.

I'm so heartened to see the pastoral edge to your doctoral studies. Having that edge will save you from many errors and keep you from being unfruitful like nothing else. Don't lose it! It's precious and far too few scholars have it.