Not everyone knows that Paul became so frustrated with his Christian brothers who were bickering about circumcision that he finally wished the Foreskin-Fundies would cut their penises off.
Yeah, he threw his hands up in exasperation and said, “Just casterate yourselves!”
At first he tried explaining that circumcision was an outward symbol of an INTERNAL covenant with God. He insisted over and over that “Circumcision of the heart” matters most.
But many of the disciples were hung-up on the places where The Law seemed to indicate that all men of God needed to be circumsized, even the foreigners who came to live in Israel. In their culture, the physical ritual had become synonymous with “belonging to God.”
So, as non-Jewish men became interested in receiving Christ’s gift of salvation, it’s understandable that the Old Covenant Jews thought it should be business as usual:
“Let’s have a ceremony!” they probably said.
“Let’s wash in a sacred bowl and burn some doves, maybe?” another one might have suggested.
“Well, at THE VERY LEAST, we expect our new brothers to put the Mark of God on their privates!” many agreed.
“Scripture is clear in that regard!” they would assure each other.
Put Paul kept trying to help them through a paradigm shift.
He said: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love… Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?”
I can picture the Galatians reading that part and scratching their heads like, “What is Paul talking about? WE ARE obeying the truth! We’re following what THE SCRIPTURE CLEARLY SAYS…”
“This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come… Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.” –Genesis 17
How was God unclear that EVERY MALE AMONG YOU shall be circumcised?
What part of “EVERYLASTING” was vague?
This interpretation of The Law was drilled into the minds of God’s Children for hundreds of years–so Paul was fighting a difficult battle to move them to a new understanding of the purpose behind their tradition.
On the one hand, I sympathize with the Jewish early-Christians who viewed Paul as the heretic for twisting God’s holy word.
But I also sympathize with anyone, like Paul, trying to introduce a new concept to a rigid Fundy…
Paul believes that we should be patient and full of grace with our “weaker brothers” whose consciences are determined.
However, we must speak up if those “weaker brothers” begin trying to impose their Legalism on new converts and causing stumbling blocks to OTHER weaker brothers.
(Side note: Weaker brothers are constantly tripping over each other. I tend to refer to it at the “Clash of the Fundamentalists.” But I digress.)
Paul’s frustration with the “GOD REQUIRES CIRCUMCISION” crowd is very similar to my annoyance with certain individuals who insist that GOD REQUIRES BELIEF IN A YOUNG EARTH.
I wrote about the hoops which (some) Young Earth Creationists expect everyone to jump through here.
I believe Christians should be free to explore the topic of origins and to conclude whatever makes the most sense to them about how and when The Creator brought forth life. But please don’t pretend that God’s word is “clear” about something that is pretty obviously confusing.
And please–please, please–stop telling Atheists and Weaker Brothers that they must believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old or they will compromise the entire Christian faith.
Oh–I understand WHY a person would think God cares about the creation timeline. And I also understand that some beloved Christians struggle with respecting figurative or symbolic Covenants because it’s hard to see those intangible ideas as being equally REAL and TRUE and DIVINE as a literal piece of cut flesh.
But, a person who believes in a stylized Genesis account does NOT have to believe the sacrifice of Jesus was also figurative. That’s called a Non Sequitur. Even if Moses used parables, it’s possible to believe that Jesus was a real, historic person.
Therefore, representing a YEC worldview as if the whole of Christianity depends on a 6-day understanding of Creation is JUST AS WRONG as asking new converts to LITERALLY cut their bodies and prove their allegiance.
If you weren’t so over-the-top dogmatic, I would go with the flow. But if you’re going to set up obstacles for would-be converts and other brothers/sisters, I have to call you out.
Like the Circumcision Gang, you fully, honestly believe you’re carrying a message straight from God’s mouth, while those who disagree (like Paul and Matt Walsh) are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Your perspective makes sense, and I respect your willingness to stand up for what you (incorrectly, but understandbly) feel is indesputably fact.
I only mean to confess that I agree with Paul–your agitating must stop.
I won’t wish that anybody would cut off their body parts, because I think only Paul can get away with that. 🙂
But I will issue this challenge instead: if an individual is so completely sure that God SAID 24-hours and he MEANS 24-hours, why don’t we insist that all Bible translations replace the word “day” with the words “24 hours” in Genesis 1?
Again, if it’s so clear, and there’s not a bit of doubt about what GOD’S WORD intends to convey, then why not help eliminate all confusion for future generations of readers by having Genesis spell out the truth:
“…and there was evening, and there was morning, the first 24 hours.” ?
Are the Agitators willing to go the whole way?
In Christian Love,
-Paul and Amanda