Romans 4:9-12 Disputes About Who Is More Spiritual

Dear Friends,
God unites people through faith. In the days of Paul, the author of Romans, one way people were divided was by their acceptance or rejection of the Jewish practice of circumcision. In the arena of the newly budding Christian church this led to disputes between those coming from a Jewish faith who were proud of their circumcision and believers from other cultural groups.

Paul refers both groups back to Abraham. He points out from the book of Genesis that Abraham was uncircumcised when God first called him. He was still in that state when God credited his faith as righteousness. Thus, God is the God of the uncircumcised. He then pointed out that Abraham, however, was also the one through whom God originated circumcision. Thus Abraham was the father of both the uncircumcised and those who were. It seems like a silly battle to today’s sensibilities, but at the time some believers passionately felt full obedience to God required circumcision and Paul had to set them right to end the quarrel.

I wonder how many of our current disputes within Christianity will look as silly in a few centuries, much less a couple of millennia? Which of our internal contests over who is more spiritual or more authentic will turn out to be meaningless chattering distracting us from actually reaching people for Jesus? Which theological sacred cows will fold under the application of scholarship and study? I don’t pretend to know the answer, but I think it is a question worth asking before we look down on people trying to follow Jesus.

Without Wax,
Dr. Dwight

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