Sunday, July 25, 2010
Vincent Smiles on the gospel in Galatians
Vincent Smiles writes:
In Galatians the gospel is the invasive and invincible power of God, which is presently at work in the world to complete God's plan of salvation. It is God's "call" (Gal 1:6, 15; 5:7), to which Paul and every human authority or sacred tradition are subject. The gospel is for the whole world, and its subject all humans to itself on the same terms. That is why the negative judgment on law, as on all human wisdom and philosophy (cf. 1 Cor 1:20-25), also lies at the heart of the gospel, particularly in the context of Galatians. This negative edge to the gospel is an aspect of the gospel as grace, for it is only when humanity is revealed in its utter nakedness before God that God's grace can truly be known as grace. The gospel, so to speak, clears the ground for itself; it sheds the light that simultaneously exposes and dispels the darkness of the human condition. It is the gospel, which is simultaneously judgment and grace, that enables Paul so freely to interpret the law and so radically set it aside.
Vincent M. Smiles, The Gospel and the Law in Galatia: Paul's Response to Jewish-Christian Separatism and the Threat of Galatian Apostasy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1998), 28.