Musing on Corinthians, Galatians and the American church

I preached today at a local congregation. I was given the topic, “This is my story, This is my song.” I liked the topic and immediately went to the autobiographical statement of Paul in which he claims the cross as his own story. His opponents, at least 2 Corinthians, are so-called “Super Apostles.” Paul is concerned that their influence is leading the Corinthians astray into different preaching about Jesus, a different Spirit, and a different gospel. Their influence is corrosive of Paul’s authority. So, Paul calls them back to the gospel he proclaimed to them. If you are committed to that gospel, you’ll recognize Paul as a legitimate apostle.

Paul is also jealous for the gospel he proclaimed among the Galatians. Here, the enemies of his gospel are apparently Judaizers. The issues relate to Gentile Christians and their relationship to matters of the Mosaic law, namely diet and circumcision. Very different than Corinth where Paul’s opponents are not Judiazers, but more likely triumphalists. Their gospel dismisses Paul as not being impressive (read spiritual) enough. It can’t account for weakness as a sign of God’s presence.

Now, I don’t think today was the best sermon I ever preached. But it dawned on me that Galatians is red-meat for most of us. For most of us, the enemies to the gospel are legalists. That’s a different gospel, we will readily admit. But for a variety of reasons, we’re less sensitized to triumphalism as a different gospel. And its a little offensive to our American sensibilities, which are very triumphalistic. Paul’s gospel is both a little too fleshy and oriented to suffering, not spiritual or glory-oriented enough. We like Jesus glorified, not necessarily crucified (except as a penalty for our pesky sins).

Anyway, just an observation.

About Mark Love

I am the Director of the Resource Center for Missional Leadership at Rochester College. Part of my job includes directing a master's degree in missional leadership, a situated learning degree. I am married to Donna and have a son, Josh Love, who lives in Portland, OR. With Donna, I have also inherited three great daughters and three amazing granddaughters.
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2 Responses to Musing on Corinthians, Galatians and the American church

  1. Laura Oldenburg says:

    I just read your blog from July and I have a question. I agree about us being very comfortable with triumphalists and whatever makes us seem more spiritual. How do I deepen my walk with God without being superficial if I am not really suffering for God. Just asking

    • Mark Love says:

      I don’t know. I imagine if your heart breaks for what breaks God’s, there will be suffering. And I don’t know how you grow spiritually apart from that.

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