Friday, March 13, 2009

40FP(10): Galatians 3.26-28

More manifesto material:

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Why is this a favourite passage?
Well, the theme of 'children of God' is a major one for me, and will be reflected here in due course, but the key to this passage for me comes in two things: first, the identity of a Christian is found through their faith and baptism (leaving aside the link between those things for another day). Secondly, this identity supersedes all other identities; here, in particular, it is made explicit that this new identity overcomes previous divisions based upon gender, race and economic status. Christians are called to form a new community, based around our faith and baptism. To place a criterion of identity above that of baptism is, effectively, to excommunicate. This is just one of the reasons why I have great trouble with much of the homophobic criticism coming out of places like GAFCON - their entire activity is premised on a rejection of baptised brothers and sisters - they assume their conclusion before the intra-family dialogue can begin. Similarly, the rejection of mainstream baptismal practices by a small minority of churches (eg in favour of some sort of mental-assent theory of faith) destroys the foundation of Christian unity. It is also where my acceptance of just-war theory has undergone the biggest modification since I started writing this blog - I'm not sure it is ever legitimate (in Christian terms) for one Christian to kill another. The ramifications of that I'm still exploring!

For those who have faith in Christ, who have been baptised into the Body, their sense of identity as Christians trumps all other claims. This is radically important.

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