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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cutting remarks

Sometimes, it all comes together. I heard a favorite speaker of mine on the wireless this AM, and he mentiomed "circumcision" in passing. (No, this was not Dr. Dean Edell ranting on the cruel mutilation of Western boydom). The issue was that of the Judaizing teachers who were troubling the Galatian gentile church by saying that to be a Christian, you first had to submit to the Law of Moses.This apparently started a Mosaic fan club, and folks wanted to join, with circumcision as the club entry fee. Paul writes:

Gal 5:1-4 Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don't ever become slaves of the Law again.
I, Paul, promise you that Christ won't do you any good if you get circumcised.
If you do, you must obey the whole Law.
And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his wonderful kindness.

This makes me worry a bit. Not doctrinally, but as regards communication. I have bleated about jackleg theologians and shadetree preachers in time past here , here , here , especially here. I frankly have problems with the seminary setup, but when I see the insanity that gets praught by the unlearned, well, maybe a bit of larnin' isn't so bad.

Y'see, it is frightfully easy to pull one verse out and beat it like a drum:

I, Paul, promise you that Christ won't do you any good if you get circumcised.

Preachers, and Christians who want to communicate their faith, can easily fall into a trap of assuming that others know what they are talking about, when actually they are speaking the club jargon. "Justification", "sanctification", "the", like that. I know that Paul is showing that the Abrahamic covenant promise was not replaced by the Mosaic covenant, and that we are made righteous by faith in Christ, rather than by obedience to the Law of Moses, which served to point out our sinfulness, and thus established our need for believing Jesus. (Wow, simple.) But the person hearing ONLY that "Christ won't do you any good if you get circumcised" -if he is one of those guys circumcised at birth for Western hygienic reasons - could get the idea that "Well, I guess I can't be saved.".
Rather like the people who worry that they have committed "the Unpardonable Sin" but have no clue as to what it is. The enemy is clever, and as the Bard prophetically wrote, can use Scripture to his own purpose.

When we teach someone the Gospel (and again, I pummel the moribund equine) we need to recognise that "a little dab'll do ya" is good for Brylcreem, but not so much for making disciples. Jesus immersed the Twelve in the Word of God for three full years of teaching and practicum . Three verses, a sermon, and a prayer does not cut it for discipleship. That is better for vaccinating a person from catching a case of faith.

When you share and teach, make certain that you know what you're talking about; make double -sure that they know what you're talking about.


MacLaren said...

Very, very true.

Now can I have my foreskin back?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to bet that for every one who says "I'm circumcised, I guess that means I can't be saved" there are 1000 who circumcise their sons "because it's in the Bible" "because we're Christians" "because Christ was circumcised" "because God commanded it" and so on.

How about you have a go at them too?

The Aardvark said...


Hugh7, who precisely was I "having a go" at?

Not anyone who is circumcised.
Not anyone who isn't circumcised.

Wait...I was tilting at people who know what THEY are talking about in a doctrinal sense, and foolishly assume everyone else is in on the gag.

I am not being pro-circumcision, nor anti. I use it as a symptom of an overarchimg problem with ANY group, that of using in-speak or jargon, or technical language, figuring that everyone else knows what's going on.

OTOH, the putative 1000 who circumcise "because it is in the Bible" are just doctrinally dumb. Sacrificing infants to Molech is "in the Bible" but it would be unwise to practice that.
Christ died to free us from our sin-guilt, and to FREE us from the requirements of the Mosaic covenant, including circumcision. Countless stupidities in the church have occurred because people do not read with comprehension .

MacLaren said...

"Sacrificing infants to Molech is 'in the Bible' but it would be unwise to practice that"

Man, Aardvark. You seriously come up with the BEST T-shirt slogans, even when it's unintentional.

The Aardvark said...

I am cursed with thinking in soundbites.
Maybe I should get into the bumper sticker biz, too.