Paul understood God’s ways. God’s ways are “Covenant-shaped,” they concern transformation, and the glory always comes at the end. It is the result of God’s Word going out and coming back with something good, His own goodness multiplied.
God loves His architecture. The first chapter of the Bible is architecture. The books of Moses and the book of Revelation are filled with architecture, and the same floorplan underlies every book in between. Most Christians don’t understand the Bible’s architecture and modern Christians not only do not understand it, they do not care for it. But God loves His architecture. To love the Bible one must love its architecture. To understand the Bible, one must let the architecture inform one’s understanding.
“The Lord’s Table is for dangerous people.”
If you are going to baptize infants, it makes sense that you would also allow them to take Communion. Baptism brings one into the priesthood (through the Laver) to the court of God, and Communion is fellowship in the priestly kingdom. To unite the two is consistent—as consistent as the two pillars flanking the threshold of Solomon’s Temple.
A Debtor to the Law
“Any commentary that misses the fact that the first century isn’t about Jew versus Gentile, but about the Noahic nations of the old world versus the birth of the Christian nations of the new, is way off the mark.”
We continue with the Deuteronomy section of Galatians, which has seven cycles. Paul moves from a Division/Passover motif to an Ascension/Firstfruits motif. That is, Paul gets all Levitical. It’s all about sex and death.
I’m currently working hard on Bible Matrix III: The House of God. This third volume is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It really is. Being so engrossed in the shape and processes of the Bible (yes, even more than usual), it has struck me how foreign the various theological schools’ thinking and speech is to the actual text.
The debates about “Pauline Theology” are the perfect example, especially the focus on narrow (yet important) topics such as justification. An academic divides and redivides the text in the way an expert in any science overspecializes. He ends up knowing everything about nothing. After spending a few hours each day wandering and describing the halls of biblical architecture, I am more convinced than ever that the only way to fully understand Scripture is architecturally. This is because, for our glorious God, architecture is ethics, and ethics is architecture. Divorced from the biblical mud map, the Edenic grid, modern theologians are discussing less than a dim distorted reflection of the book God has given us. They are feeling their way around the house with their eyes shut. Continue reading
That day Moses charged the people, saying, “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. (Deuteronomy 27:11-13)
Paul now moves into the Deuteronomy section of his epistle to the Galatians, and it becomes clear that, structurally-speaking, Galatians gets no further than Moses. The epistle is fivefold in nature, a recapitulation of the Torah, and thus it ends on the wilderness side of the Jordan. Like Moses, Paul will not live to see the new order, except from afar.
“The Spirit consistently puts earthly Succession to death, dividing families, communities and entire countries, as we see today. To claim otherwise is to work against the Spirit in the world. My heredity, my household, my culture, is the target of my ministry, not its source.”
It’s time to get back into Galatians. To recap, the epistle follows the Covenant structure, but gives the central point, the Ethics, its own Covenant structure. If this thesis is correct, what we should expect in the next “cycle” (Gal. 3:26-4:7) is a discussion of Covenant Succession. Lo and behold, this is exactly what we find.
The Blessings of Abraham and the Curses of Moses
This is the fourth cycle within the “Numbers” section of Galatians. Since the next section concerns the Christians’ identity as sons of Abraham (Succession), this cycle seems to correspond to New Covenant Sanctions. I’ll take a risk and outline the epistle as I see it so far, so you can keep a handle on it. (The headings for the sections we have already covered are links to the relevant blog posts.)
“Leithart’s real problem is that one can tell the difference between a circumcised boy and an uncircumcised one, but a sprinkled baby looks no different to an unsprinkled one.”
Chapter 1 continued
See the Baptism links page for all articles in this series.
Sacraments Are Not Signs, Means Of Grace, Or Symbols
In the next section, Dr Leithart deals with three errors:
1) The tendency to treat signs rationalistically, as nothing more than a means of communicating ideas from one mind to another mind; and,
2) Talking about sacraments as “means” tend to mechanize them, turning the sacraments into machines that deliver grace rather than moments of personal encounter with the living God.
3) Symbolic exchanges (such as language) are not the “real relationship,” which is invisible and could occur just as well without them.
We are still in the Covenant Ethics section of Galatians. Not having looked too far ahead, I’m not yet certain of the overall structure of this section. So until this becomes clear we will stick with the secondary cycles. I have no doubt that the structure will become clear in hindsight, because it always does.