Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ecclesiological and Sociological Dimensions of the Gospel

When Paul rebuked Peter and company for not behaving according to the truth of the Gospel, two central principles are brought to fore. First, the truth of the Gospel is not only a matter of belief, or believing the right doctrine, but more importantly right behaviour arising from understanding the Gospel aright - the truth of the Gospel. But in this blogpost I want to focus on the second truth, equally important that is the truth of the Gospel has ecclesiological and sociological dimensions.
If we believe in the Gospel, there is no more discrimination against other races or favouritism towards one's own ethnic group. Even though the Jews were the chosen people and the elect of God, but now at the coming of Christ the Gospel is open to all that all might come in on the same basis, namely faith in Jesus Christ and not by the works of the law. What Peter failed to realize perhaps at a moment of weakness (no leader is right all the time, no leader is exempt from weakness and compromise) is that his action of withdrawing from the table of the Gentiles goes directly against the core of the Gospel which is to unite one people in Christ from the Jews and the Gentiles. Peter's action tantamounts to denial of ecclesiological fellowship between Jews and Gentiles on an equal footing. The church or ekklesia will be divided and not brought under one fold if discrimination and favouritism are still practiced. Sociologically, the church is not only a religious organization where members are united by the worship of one God through Jesus Christ, but the church is also a new man, a new humanity, a new social group bound by Christ's ethics exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount of loving one anotter and loving one's enemies. This new social entity which by the second century is called a third race, can only come about when all races whatever their social backgrounds, free or slave, rich or poor sit together as one people of God worshipping Him in unison and harmony without discord.

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