The Central Message of the Epistle to the Galatians

I’ve been reading through some traditional evangelicals, hunting for their understanding of embodiment.  Along the way, I came across this gem from Andrew Murray:

That there is a glorying in Christ Jesus that is accompanied by much confidence in the flesh, all history and experience teach us. Among the Galatians it was so. The teachers whom Paul opposed so earnestly were all preachers of Christ and His cross. But they preached it not as men taught by the Spirit to know what the infinite and all-pervading influence of that cross must be, but as those who, having had the beginnings of God’s Spirit, had yet allowed their own wisdom and their own thoughts to say what that cross meant, and so had reconciled it with a religion which to a very large extent was legal and carnal. And the story of the Galatian Church is repeated to this day even in the Churches that are most confidently assured that they are free from the Galatian error. Just notice how often the doctrine of justification by faith is spoken of as if that were the chief teaching of the Epistle, and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling as received by faith, and our walking by the Spirit, is hardly mentioned.

There’s been a huge debate among Protestants the last decade over the nature and meaning of justification, a debate which has reached its apex in the clash between N.T. Wright and John Piper.

Somehow, I doubt either side would be much satisfied with this.

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  • http://twitter.com/craigadams49 craigadams49

    The Central Message of the Epistle to the Galatians | Mere Orthodoxy http://shar.es/mr99D

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  • http://web.me.com/craigadams1/ Craig L. Adams

    What a great quote! Thanks.

  • http://pithlessthoughts.blogspot.com/ s-p

    Recovering from Holy Week and catching up on old posts.
    I love Andrew Murray, this is a great quote. The “disembodied gospel” is indeed a problem. Salvation is the uniting of human beings to God, not just “the soul” and not just a change of attitude of either God or man. The Holy Spirit dwells in US, our bodies. The notion of the body as a “cannister for the soul” is gnosticism, heresy. The resurrection of our full humanity in flesh is the gospel, if it were not important Jesus would have no need to be incarnate and the bodily resurrection would have no point or purpose. In all of St. Paul’s epistles the dogma of justification and faith end up in a discussion of the fleshly life, which is the real point of the gospel of the Incarnation and Resurrection of the body.

  • http://michaeldebusk.com Michael DeBusk

    Great quotation. That turn at the beginning of chapter 3 is so crucial to understanding Paul’s purpose.

    MJD