27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Time to take my own advice. I’ve asked Russell for positive assertions to balance his skepticism and he’s provided several excellent ones – – the love for his family and the love for the beauty of science. What do I love and where can I explain how I build my life? I too love my family and my work. That is such a blessing and I realize that all can’t rejoice with it. My hope for each of our readers is that you have a family to love and treasure. My hope is that work is a joy and not a toil – – no matter what you do. Why has scripture led me Christ? Romans is a major reason. I chose Romans because its authorship is not disputed by atheist New Testament experts. That is not the non sequitur it seems. On many issues of history, I prefer to consult the least biased experts I can find or at least those with different biases than mine. Serious scholars of the Christian New Testament attest that Paul wrote Romans in the first century CE. I last addressed Romans 3:21-26 here, saying that humility required confidence. What does this next passage say?
Here we find that least controversial of words – – faith. Paul contrasts the Jewish law and prophets with a different kind of law – – faith. I find our recent discussions of what faith is and is not to be useful background as I revisit Romans. To simplify, faith is belief based on acceptable evidence or is the evidence when empirical evidence is not available. Faith is my belief that there was a man named Jesus who was God incarnate and that he made me right before himself by the free gift of forgiveness. This faith is specific and does differentiate following Christ from other religious faiths. For me to believe this there are several prerequisites. I have to believe that a supernatural is possible and probable. That is empirically untestable. I have to believe that Jesus and Paul existed and that Paul’s letter is an early and faithful communication of what he believed. Thomas Paine, in The Age of Reason, would cede the first three points but argue that a revelation to one is just that – – a revelation to one. He felt that Paul mythologized the Christian faith based on his familiarity with Roman myth.
As a follower of Christ, I do believe that God came to men and dwelt among them. I do believe that he willingingly gave his life to rescue mine and to reconcile me to God. Then what of the myriad book of rules that Paul contrasts here? Then what of the law of works? Why did the Jews have so many rules, some of them so strange to our modern ears? The Jews, people of the book, were set apart. In my opinion, they still are. They were, are, a minority. The law and physical male circumcision were two marks that set them apart. But I was not born a Jew. I was born a Gentile (non-Jew) just like >98% of humanity. If I did grow up with the law, prophets and traditions of God’s chosen people, then how could I be special before him too?
By the law of faith. Paul is saying that faith in Christ brings Gentiles into God’s fold. As a Gentile writing 2000 years after him that brings me comfort. I was not raised with Torah. I was not circumcised for religious purposes. I have always identified with the Romans more than I have the Jews. And yet, there is a way for me. The law set apart God’s people the Jews. In antiquity, they were strange. The law of faith sets apart the people of God today. I feel strange too. It is interesting that Paul feels faith is not a replacement for law but a fulfillment. The purpose of the law was to lead the Jews to and constantly remind the Jews of God. This purpose is now fulfilled by faith – – leading me to and constantly reminding me of God.
What of my sincere friends who do not believe in either a supernatural, or the historicity or fidelity of scripture? Here I find comfort and instruction in the reminder that the God of three natures is one. He is God of Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). <2% + >98% = everyone. Who am I to disrespect those whom God calls his own? Mine is to love and to gently reason and to be thankful for the law of faith which brings me to God and offers the same for all humans.
Pascal – – 1:16