Rm4v1-2 The meaning of 'but not before God' seems ambiguous in every translation I've looked at. Of course, the whole deal here is that we're not put right by works but by faith, & so we have no reason to boast at all. But the wording here seems to imply that even if we were put right by works, we still wouldn't be able to boast before God, even if we could before others - for the capacity to do works is itself a gift from God. Breathing, thinking, reasoning, responding - all grace. Grace all.
Rm4v3-4 For all I've done.. God owes me nothing. There is no cake-or-death, just death. Christianity is not a meritocracy of the moral, it is not a star chart for good behaviour. Religione is wage slavery as a total worldview, a striver's charter, an infinitely precarious sense of self built on imaginary entitlement. Everything I've ever done is tainted. All my doing is doodoo Ph3v8 Is64v4. So, deedless and undone, unwaged and bankrupt, I throw myself on God's gift economy, and that which he gives on account of who I am-in-Christ, despite everything I've done.
Rm4v5-6 I'm struggling with Paul today. I'm lagging behind because his turn of phrase is confusing and annoying me. I'm glad he quotes the psalter; that's all I've got today, and I can pray it with Paul, & with David, in truth. Thank God for Psalm 32: // v7 You, God, are my hiding place...v11 be glad & rejoice because of what the Lord has done.//
Rm4v7-8 "Blessed" is a construction in the passive-voice, a done-to state, the well-done-good-and-faithful-servant, ultimately, is more like a steak is well-done. You are blessed, you are well-done, because your sins are covered and your sins are not counted. "Covered", epikaluptó ~ used only here, it means covered, or even over-covered, epi-covered. Compare Mt10v26 'there is nothing kekaluptó that won't be apokaluptó' ..except for our epikaluptó sins. "Counted", logizomai ~ our sin problem, from a logistical nightmare to a logic gate scandal. Paul uses this accountancy principle, this counter argument, if you will, the same word, throughout Rm4: v3 counted as righteous, v9 not counted as gift, v8 not count sin, v9 v10 faith was counted, v22 v23 v24 count count count.. Like the memories in Inside Out, strung on an abacus, then emptied into a cosmic memory dump, into God's great forgettery. And you get Christ's credit.
Ah. The beauties of whatsapp. And Inside Out. And grace grace grace grace. Made me think of this... youtube.com/watch?v=af96ZiubQtE
Rm4v11-12 "Sign" ~ that is, a signifier of a signified. A sign is *about* something, it is a transparent artifact of language that casts the mind's eye beyond the item at hand, it is both-and the present and the potential, it is both-and the as-is and the as-if, circumcision's main substance is subjunctive in its symbolic function describing another reality ~ as opposed to circumcision being superstitiously in-itself valuable or in-itself virtuous. Christianity is full of such signs: baptism, communion, marriage,invaluable language assets speaking of a reality beyond themself and speaking that reality into being by being so spoken. "Seal" (Es8v8, Gn41v42 etc) ~ you brand that which you already own, you offer your signature when the detail of the deal is already done. "Father" ~ Signage is but the documenting, and sealing is only the ratifying, of Abraham's faith, and it is this faith which is the qualification for his fatherhood. Does understanding faithers as fathers, suggest Christianity positively as a faith-triarchy? Are some fathers more father than others? Does this help deepen an understanding of a savourable qualitative fathers-heart? How can I better be a spiritual father in this tradition, with this inheritance?
Rm4v13-14 Paul invites us to examine Gen15 - Abraham's faith as a pattern for our own. There are many striking things about A's conversation with God here: the way that he v8 asks questions while v9-10 responding with sacrifice, that he hears God v12-16 speaking terror, yet v18 covenanting in the midst of it. But the thing that strikes me most is that God's first command is 'do not be afraid', God's first promise here is to be Abraham's shield. Faith like Abe's knows first that it is safe in the world. That is the v6 trust that pleases God. Don't be afraid, do not be afraid.
Rm4v15-16 Paul doesn't mention 'law' (nomos) until Rm2. As if, in an approximately chronological argument, there are God's invisible qualities (aorata) Rm1v20, and God's righteous judgement (dikaiōma) Rm1v32, which give individuals a sense of conscience and consequence, but then, into the room God sends Mrs Law, a utopian herald of his radical Kingdom's future perfect community. She sets up a curious triangle out of any already fraught dyad, she is a know-it-all, backseat-driving gooseberry. Mrs Law is a Third, and as such presents herself for cooption in the staging of our competitive comparative structures ~ shame, pride, etc. Paul says, v16, "where there is no law there is no transgression" - which makes a different claim to the sin established in Rm1. Law is the descriptive roadmap of where we are going, an impossible social blueprint for God's new society.
Consider cannabis (by way of happily extra-biblical analogy not an argument for ethics of legalisation) Consider the way the drug's relative legality changes your heart, and your sense of righteousness, and how Law's peculiar lawness creates a world of triangular meta-transgressions: ~ To the extent that you pharisee believe Mrs Law is on your prohibitionist side, law itself increases self-righteousness, which self-reinforces self-justifying self-understanding. ~ To the extent that you pothead understand yourself to have fallen foul of Mrs Law's grand plan, then law increases shame/despair: you are outnumbered by the pharisee and Mrs Law, and so despair's learnt helplessness gives rise to a vindictive nothing-to-lose rebelliousness. In both cases sin increases Rm5v20. But.
Rm4v17 Thinking about inheritance today with Løgstrup's emphasis on life as gift, thankful for biological & spiritual parents stretching back to Abraham as part of the gift. Various attempts to secularise 'life as gift' here, & I'm struck by how this is maybe just about possible for the creation & sustainance of life...but not resurrection. Life can't resurrect itself, only God can give life to the dead.
Rm4v18 Hope against hope, what a strange phrase. I've had various conversations about hope in the last week or so, in the midst of various chaos. Hope against hope = true hope against false hope, where false hope is escapist denial or vague optimism, both of which are simply the other side of the coin of despair. True hope, via ruin, emerges from the ashes of false hope. Hk3v16-19.
Rm4v19-20 Hope. 1Pt3v15: Do you have an answer for the Hope that you have? Can you explain and describe Hope? Hb11v1: Do you have assurance of things hoped for? Can you defend and advocate Hope?
- Hope speaks to us, that still small voice, that voice of one calling in the wilderness, that sheep-whisperer's tone.
- We speak to Hope, we go into our room and close the door and pray, we bellow full throated lament from the mountains, we dialogue with the Almighty.
- We speak of Hope, that hypothesis, that Kingdom Come, that but-if-not, we go out to the highways and hedges inviting all to Hope.
And Faith? Faith is participation in Hope.
- Faith is living a future reality within the present, placing breakable objects within our realm of the seen onto a table in the realm of the unseen.
- Faith is a visible praxis of pointing to God, it is a risk-taking exercise in active anticipation, a Doing of a life in the light of new information.
- Faith is infectiously imaginative culture-making, bringing the art of the possible urgently into the actual, bringing the impossible into the realm of the very real, catalysing an apetite for ludricous things.
Abraham grew in faith. Such do I want for you: increasingly more more-than in your sense of today.
Rm4v21-22 Being fully persuaded. Hard verses for us doubt-filled. This is the only place this plērophero is used. It's easy to read as one-dimensional: belief as binary, as on or off - on means a pass, off means a fail. But a short meditation on the word itself brings out more nuance. Definition: 'to bring full measure, to carry out fully, to discharge completely, to be fully established in a matter of certainty, to be fully convinced, assured.' There is something active & ongoing in this word, it doesn't start from certainty but moves towards it. It can be a prayer - persuade me oh God, assure me fully, that I might understand righteousness.
Rm4v23-24 Death, so magnificent, so completely awesome, just so full, and man so small. Perennially, I am swept up in death's cult, enamoured at the sheer sublime totality of death's figure, a muscular stallion shimmering in the blackest black, there is a harrowing thrill in being reverberated by death's deafening tornado, there is comfort in the clutch of the dragon's infinitely vice-like grip. This is the most authentic submission to the most powerful and finally ultimate force in the universe. All other objects of devotion, all other artifacts of culture, all other points of reference, are shallow diversions, escapist candyfloss veils over ultimate reality. Those who peddle lives less than this, fritter frothy poodle pop parades floating down anaesthetic rivers of glibly translucent mediocrity. Come, be towards death, come bow before it and relish the raw intensity and screaming certainty of the melancholic totality. Death, for being the ultimate experience, for having the last word, is the basis for authentic living. Unless there is something more ultimate. Unless another word has the last say.
Rm4v25 'FOR our sins...FOR our justification' (NIV)? Prepositions and theology. The meanings of these 'for's blurs into confusion. The GNB is more precise here: BECAUSE of our sins...IN ORDER TO put us right with God.' The clarity helps remind us that it is actually not Christ's death alone that puts us right with God, but his resurrection. The resurrection is not an add-on to atonement, it is its substance. In death Christ comes into the human order of things, & in his resurrection we are brought into the Christ order of things. Because...in order to: from death to life.