Dear Inspiration Seekers,
I am, once again, running behind my father’s Sunday School lessons by a couple of weeks. Other events have taken precedence for the last few weeks. I chose to address those timely issues, and to delay this series of inspirations on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. I initially wondered what more I could write about the concept of grace and the law, as Paul covered these extensively in the letter to the Romans. If anything, Galatians is Romans abridged. But, I like a challenge. Check me, if I repeat myself. On the other hand, part of why we reiterate themes in books, commentaries, opinion pieces and blogs is that we often do not get the message the first, second, or third time. Otherwise, all sermons would be variations on past themes… Well, maybe that is the relevance to that process.
Paul dives right into Galatians asserting his authority for writing, preaching, and guiding the new churches: he was not sent from men nor by man. He is not representing some governing board, theological congress, or legal body. His authority come from Christ and God. His phrasing also brings up the image of his conversion, not by the witness of Christians by the revelation of Christ confronting him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). As men did not bring Paul (then Saul) to Christ, neither does Paul write to the Galatians by human authority, but by divine revelation. As discussed in Romans, God acts not by the law, but by grace.
Yet, Paul establishes his motivation for writing and dilemma that the Galatian church faces after the brief introduction. How quickly some of the leaders of the church have discarded the gospel of grace and reverted back to adherence to the law. I have reservations about both following people who claim authority by revelation or by established rules, without scrutiny of both.
In our not-so-distance history in the USA, various ministers and movements have claimed revelational authority. The 18th century Great Awakening and 19th century 2nd Great Awakening, Joseph Smith’s communications with the angle Moroni, Mary Baker Eddy’s attempts to make Christianity science, the Pentacostal churches, and various recent Evangelical leaders such as Jerry Farwell and Pat Buchanan all claim their direct connection to God. At the same time, many of these movements call upon the authority of some text, ancient or new, which they claim we must obey. These quickly add up to a law library of rules, proposed as the correct way to govern behavior.
Lost between sketchy claims of divine revelation and rigid rules is the gospel of grace to restore our relationship with the divine and with each other.
Until next time, Inspiration Seekers