Living Under the Law
By: Bob Brinsmead
“In Galatians 3 and 4 Torah is Scripture and Scripture is Torah – the words are used interchangeably. Not being under the Law means not being under the Scripture which in that context was the OT. F.F. Bruce also knew these things, but dared not do more than hint at it.
This is where I made my break from the traditional use of Scripture as final authority. The Scripture is not, strictly speaking, the Word of God (Gospel of John), and the NT is not a written document (2 Corinthians 3) – it is a witness to the Word of God – thus my rejection of Bibliolatry. Thus began my reading of any Scripture without wearing my special glasses that colored everything with a religious authority. Anyone who lives under any kind of written code/document/confession is under the Law. “If we are led by the spirit, we are not under the law (nomos,graphe/gramma).”
“The Word is made flesh.” “God is manifest in the flesh.” “You are God’s epistle, God’s NT, to be seen and read of all men.” I accept Jesus as the revelation of God, the light of the world.” I accept also what Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.”
“God expresses God’s self (himself) in the arena of human existence. God is love – and wherever love is manifested there is God. Whoever loves lives in God and God lives in him/her. Wherever ordinary humans live ordinary lives, caring for and sharing with one another, there God is revealed – in Jesus of Nazareth, of course, but in a Gandhi, a mother Teresa or a Mandela and in very ordinary people doing the truly human thing of caring for the wellbeing of others, especially enemies or differing others.
“So the concept of God confining revelation to a book is a very impoverished view of things – God reveals the Mystery of Truth, the way of being truly human in many and all peoples on the face of the earth. The idea of God speaking only or granting special revelation to just one little tribe or cult on earth is a terrible elitism and arrogance – God reveals the mystery of Life and Light everywhere people reveal the image of God simply by being truly human. So too, the claim that only the written religious tradition of one tribe of earth is the authoritative Word of God is the same kind of arrogance – God revealed Truth through the philosophy of the Greeks and the insights of Zoroastrianism, as much as God spoke through the best of the Buddhist and the Hindu traditions. Of course there are crudities and inhuman material in all those sources. But surely we can’t deny there are crudities and very inhuman things, and so contradictory things, in the Bible too. Wherever the human race has made advancements to improve the human outlook and to improve the human condition, whether in religion, in ethics, in philosophy, in science or in medicine, there God has been at work in and through humanity everywhere.
My future and the meaning of my existence on the amazing teaching of the Jesus of the original Q – whose basic teaching is found in about ten verses in Matthew 5:38-48 and a parallel passage in Luke 6 (which is probably a bit more reflective of the original) – if I may summarize the gist of it: Love unconditionally because our Creator Father does, love our enemies ( and all the differing others) because the supreme Good One does, and never never retaliate, pay back, get even, demand atonement for wrongs against us – because the Abba of Jesus does not – despite what Paul says in Romans 12,”Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” There is an issue here of Jesus versus Paul – a gospel about never retaliating on the one hand, and on the other hand, Paul and the Christian Church’s grand narrative of retaliation against the mythical fall of the human race, against a Man who hung on a cross to pay for human sin, and against most of the human family who will suffer vengeance for not believing such a sadistic and inhuman narrative.”